The Giallorossi have a 100% record through two matches with José Mourinho, and although most wouldn’t place much importance in the UEFA Conference League, it’s still one more chance for Roma to go deep in a competition this season. Considering the sheer amount of forward depth Mourinho is playing with after the signings of Eldor Shomurodov and Tammy Abraham, don’t be surprised if The Special One uses this third competition as a chance for players deeper in Roma’s bench to shine.
Last Time Around: Trabzonspor 1 - Roma 2
Congratulations if you were able to find a consistent stream for the first leg of this play-in match against Trabzonspor; personally, I had to use a Turkish soap opera channel’s website to watch it, despite having a brand-new Paramount+ subscription ready to go. The main highlight of this first match of Mourinho’s reign was undoubtedly Eldor Shomurodov’s first goal with the club, although a goal from Lorenzo Pellegrini was the difference between a 1-1 draw and a 2-1 win for the club. Long-time Roma supporters got to see a lot of Serie A old boys in action during this first leg, including Gervinho, Bruno Peres, and Cornelius. Odds are all of those players will start again for Trabzonspor, but nevertheless, it should be relatively easy for the Giallorossi to advance past the play-in stage of the ECL.
What To Watch For
If you manage to find a way to watch this match, one of the key storylines will certainly be how Nicolò Zaniolo reacts to his red in the first Serie A match of the season. Before the match against Fiorentina, it was largely expected that Zaniolo would sit out the second leg of the Trabzonspor tie to protect his fitness, but that fifty-second minute red means that there won’t be any weekend football for him until a week and a half from now. Given that, expect Zaniolo to start from the first minute against Trabzonspor, and hope he can put in a class performance.
Roma vs Trabzonspor: August 26th. 19:00 CET/1:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
The Kid looked a little flustered last time out, which is understandable given it was his first significant match since his second ACL tear and the match was against the club that cut him loose back in 2017. For Zaniolo to have a season on par with the expectations for him, he’ll have to start by stringing together good performances where he can. If he’s able to score his first goal of the season against Trabzonspor, it would bode well for his ability to stay on the pitch and make a big difference.
Shomu on the Left?
Eldor Shomurodov has certainly turned heads so far in his limited appearances for Roma. The former Genoa man has a goal and an assist in two matches to date, and even though he was a substitute against Fiorentina, he was arguably one of the most impactful players of the game for Roma. The open question after these performances is how he will fit long-term with Roma’s other forward signing of the summer, Tammy Abraham.
Following the match, José Mourinho said that he saw Shomurodov as a left-winger as well as a striker; although it’s not necessarily his 100% natural position, he did find success with Genoa in many forward roles, and it would certainly help the Giallorossi if Shomurodov could be a Uzbek Army Knife of an attacker. If Eldor is going to be tried out in various positions on the forward line, giving those tweaks a first serious go against Trabzonspor makes sense due to the lower stakes at hand. If it works, keep rolling with it, if not, don’t mess with the good thing Roma has going with Shomurodov.
These early ECL matches are best thought of as ways to see how this Roma squad is growing with José Mourinho, as petri dishes for tactical experiments, and as opportunities for players to shine after a rough performance or time on the bench. If you manage to find a way to watch this match, come in with that kind of expectation; anything beyond, including as enjoyable a match as Roma’s victory over Fiorentina, will be gravy.