Let’s face it: there have been several matches through the years that have made it a little embarrassing to be a Romanista. Whether it was Manchester United’s drubbing of Roma and 2007 Francesco Totti, Liverpool’s 5-2 first leg whooping of Roma in the 2018 Champions League semifinals, or even Juventus’ 4-3 defeat of the Giallorossi this season, there have been no shortage of moments where Romanisti felt pain.
None of those losses stung in the same way that Roma’s 6-1 UECL group stage loss to Bodø/Glimt stung, though. Liverpool, Juventus, Manchester United: they’re all respectable sides, huge clubs that in many ways represent what Roma wants to become. Meanwhile, I’d never heard of Bodø/Glimt before Roma’s first match against them this season; losing that badly to a side who you’d expect to destroy is a whole different kind of embarrassing.
Just when we all thought Roma had Glimted its last Bodø, the ping pong balls decided to play a joke on Romanisti everywhere and have the Giallorossi face their Norwegian foe yet again in the UECL Quarterfinals. Roma’s investigation of the Bodø pitch and the 6-1 drubbing they received after their denigrating comments about just why they had to play in the Norwegian winter will remain tattooed on my brain until the end of time; I can only imagine how people who actually played in that match feel about it. Suffice to say that even though Bodø is one of the least glamorous sides Roma will play as the season winds down, they are without a doubt the side that Roma most wants to send home in a body bag.
#ASRoma defender Gianluca Mancini blames ‘the s***** last season’ as the Giallorossi are welcomed by a blizzard in Norway ahead of the match against #BodoGlimt in the #ConferenceLeague. 'It's our own fault'.https://t.co/rbLEfpxdWI #UECL #Giallorossi #BodoRoma— footballitalia (@footballitalia) October 21, 2021
This match is about more than just payback, though. Excellent form is like fine china; one fall and it could shatter into a million pieces, and a draw or loss to Bodø right now could have untold effects on Roma’s recent climb up the table into fifth place. Simply put, this is a must-win match for a million reasons; we just have to hope that the Giallorossi players don’t only know that to be true, but feel that to be true.
November 4, 2020: Roma 2, Bodø/Glimt 2
Thankfully the last match Roma played against Bodø/Glimt wasn’t the 6-1 drubbing; if it was, I wouldn’t have felt inclined to write much in this section. When the Giallorossi faced Bodø at home, things went slightly better for Mourinho’s men; an 84th-minute goal from Roger Ibañez made sure that both sides came away with points, though by this time in the group stage the match was about little more than bragging rights for either side, as nobody truly expected CSKA Sofia or Zorya Luhansk to advance. The other goals in the match were from Stephan El Shaarawy, Ola Solbakken (more about him later), and Erik Botheim (who has since moved on to Russian side Krasnodar). Here’s what we had to say post-match:
Well, on the one hand, Roma managed to avoid a complete disaster, but the mere fact that we’re celebrating a moral victory against such a small club speaks volumes. But, let’s give credit where it’s due, Bodø never—not for a single second in either match—shrunk from the moment; they played with purpose and belief and deserve to be group leaders.
Given how quickly he ducked out, chances are Mourinho was none too pleased with his club’s performance today, so we’ll wait with bated breath for his post-match comments, to say nothing of what, if any, changes he’ll make this weekend.
Let’s just hope that Mourinho isn’t ducking out of Aspmyra Stadium quickly this time around, right?
What To Watch For
Will Cooler Heads Prevail?
There’s no other way to slice it: Roma has a more talented side than Bodø/Glimt. Several players from the Norwegian side’s 6-1 drubbing of the Giallorossi have already moved to other clubs, including Patrick Berg and Erik Botheim, but even without those moves out, I’m sorry, there’s no way the Giallorossi aren’t more talented than Bodø/Glimt. If Roma don’t win this match, it won’t be because Bodø/Glimt is more talented; it will be because the Giallorossi let the Norwegians get under their skin.
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.
Are We Watching A Soon-To-Be-Roma Player?
Bodø/Glimt’s success this season has meant that several of their key players have transferred to bigger and better clubs. As previously mentioned, both Patrick Berg and Erik Botheim have moved to (quite literally) greener pastures, and if transfer rumors are to be believed, 23-year-old Norwegian striker Ola Solbakken might be leaving the Bodø Municipality soon, too. Where might he be moving? Try the Stadio Olimpico; Il Tempo is reporting that Tiago Pinto has already met with an intermediary to facilitate Solbakken’s move to Rome, and with the striker’s contract expiring in December, this moves screams “low risk, high reward.”
I’ve been impressed by Solbakken both times Roma have played Bodø/Glimt, but conversely, it hasn’t been that hard to be impressed by just about anyone at Bodø/Glimt when they’ve played Roma this season. Playing in the Tippeligaen is obviously a completely different experience from playing in Serie A, but be sure to keep an eye for Solbakken tomorrow. Considering how poorly the Eldor Shomurodov Experiment has gone this season, it isn’t out of the question for the Giallorossi to move on from the Uzbek international this summer and bring some Scandinavian energy to Rome.