Let’s be honest: I don’t have to sell this match to you. This match is all that anyone’s been talking about in the Romaverse ever since the draw for the Quarterfinals was announced, and it’s all that anyone’s been talking about in the wide world of football since the first leg of the tie ended with a reported fight between Roma’s goalkeeping coach Nuno Santos and Bodø/Glimt manager Kjetil Knutsen. I don’t have the time or the inclination to share all the digs and all the press releases that have come out since that match last week; suffice to say that in an astonishingly short amount of time, the Giallorossi and Bodø/Glimt have turned into enemies.
The Giallorossi are down 2-1 heading into this second part of the tie, but as Nicola Zalewski said in the post-game hubbub in Norway, this past week has felt more like a halftime for a 180-minute match than anything else.
April 7, 2022: Bodø/Glimt 2, Roma 1
If you really want to watch the first ninety minutes of this match we’re about to continue, I won’t stop you, but it was a hard enough watch for me live that I’m not inclined to look at extended highlights any time soon. A 43rd-minute goal from Lorenzo Pellegrini gave the Giallorossi a key away goal, but deflected shots from Ulrik Saltnes and Hugo Vetlsen got past Rui Patricio and gave the Norwegian side the advantage heading into the second part of this tie.
Unfortunately, this highlight reel doesn’t include high-quality footage of the fight between Nuno Santos and Kjetil Knutsen. Shoot us a DM if you have that readily available; I’m sure SB Nation will pay you handsomely for it.
What To Watch For
Will Cooler Heads Prevail?
Even before the Knutsen-Santos fight at the end of last week’s match, I noted that the Giallorossi needed to make sure that they played their game simply and without anger:
Certainly, the Giallorossi have several players who are more inclined towards picking up cards during a match, Gianluca Mancini, Roger Ibañez, and Nicoló Zaniolo chief among them. Zaniolo won’t be playing in Norway to protect his legs from the artificial turf, but for every player that does touch the turf, it will be critical for them to play calmly but with the expertise that helped this side to major victories against Atalanta and Lazio. Stupid or brash cards early in the match could change the tone of the tie permanently, and if there’s anything Roma should have learned from its first two matches against Bodø/Glimt, it’s that you shouldn’t give them the smallest chance to win.
Those words have only become more true in the past week; it’s clear that every single member of both squads is quite annoyed at their opponent, and for Roma to win, they need to harness that energy positively in tandem with the support from yet another sold-out crowd at the Stadio Olimpico.
Will the Derby Della Capitale Lineup Get Results Again?
Reports out of Italy are suggesting that the Giallorossi will roll with the starting lineup they used to great success against Lazio in the Derby Della Capitale, with Lorenzo Pellegrini and Henrikh Mkhitaryan slotting in behind Tammy Abraham in the attack. That trio of attackers has undoubtedly been the cream of Roma’s attacking crop this season, so it makes sense that Mourinho will put them on the pitch from minute one with a trip to the semifinals on the line.
Some might note that running with this lineup sends Nicolò Zaniolo to the bench again and worry that it’s an indicator The Kid will move to greener pastures sooner rather than later. I’ll push back against that: if I were Mourinho, I wouldn’t put Roma’s most talented (yet most fragile) younger player out against a Norwegian side with nothing to lose from minute one. Accuse me of looking down on Bodø/Glimt, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see them play dirty tomorrow, and another injury for Zaniolo could be disastrous to his ability to rediscover his world-class form for club and country (even if the injury wasn’t as bad as an ACL tear). The Abraham/Pellegrini/Mkhitaryan attacking trio has found a lot of success this season, but it’s also a trio that hasn’t struggled with injury in the way Zaniolo has, and against a team that might not play cleanly, that’s important too.
The way that both the Giallorossi and Mourinho have approached Zaniolo’s return from injury this season has been filled with caution and an eye towards the long-term. Just as that mentality makes me confident that Tiago Pinto won’t ditch Zaniolo for spare parts in the summer, it makes me confident that making sure some Bodø/Glimt defender doesn’t take a chunk out of Nicolo’s knee in the fifth minute of the match is the right decision.