Since 2018 Roma has reached the semifinals of three different UEFA competitions: the Champions League, the Europa League, and the Europa Conference League. And of course, we all know they won one of those: the famous Conference League from last season. This season the Giallorossi are once again on track to reach another European semifinal.
Not bad for a club not named Real Madrid, Bayern, or Liverpool, right?
In fact, if we’re talking strictly about appearances and forget about the whole ‘toughness’ of each competition, with three European semifinals (and one European trophy) since 2018 under its belt, Roma has fared better than illustrious clubs like Barcelona and Manchester United. By that measure, they've also been the most consistent Italian club in continental competitions.
That's not to say Roma has been perfect in Europe. There were some ugly Roma Happened moments along the way: The 6-1 Bodo Disaster, the 2-1 Ludogorets Loss, the 6-2 Manchester Mayhem, or the 4-1 Barcelona Beating, for example.
But thankfully, Roma recovered from those hard punches and can actually brag about a nice European record in the past five years. A record with which only teams like Real, Bayern, Liverpool, Chelsea, or Arsenal could compete.
Ironically Roma has done better in Europe than in its own domestic league. After a third-place finish in 2017-2018, Roma has finished fifth, sixth, or seventh in Serie A every year since. And never reached a Coppa Italia final or even semifinal, for that matter. But in Europe, they’re a different beast, especially under Mourinho. After all, he’s a master of the knockout rounds; he knows the importance of tournament play, the do or die, the mano a mano.
Perhaps the fans are a bit too focused on Italy and the disappointing results in Serie A recently. They’re obsessed with reaching the Champions League every time while forgetting the amazing European nights like last season in Tirana, the 3-0 Barcelona win, or winning five consecutive Europa League knockout games in 2020-2021.
Okay, so here’s the catch. I know the Europa League is not really comparable to the Champions League. And a CL quarterfinal is probably a bigger achievement than winning the Conference League. Vitesse is no Liverpool, and Braga is not Bayern. But as I said, if we just look at the stats/numbers/appearances, then Roma is up there with the best.
Also, you play with the cards you’re dealt. Roma doesn’t have the same budget as PSG, City, or Real so why would they feel bad about winning a Conference League? Can’t they be proud of reaching a Europa League semifinal? Isn’t it tougher to reach an EL semifinal with the likes of Pau Lopez, Peres, Cristante, Villar, and Veretout than winning the CL with Benzema, Modric, Courtois, and Kroos?
Roma has no Mbappe, Lewandowski, De Bruyne or Salah. They’re not part of the ‘elite.’ That’s just the way it is. Always has been. But that doesn’t mean we must underestimate their importance to Italy’s coefficient. And they did A LOT since 2018.
Finishing in the top four in Serie A this season is a must, of course. It’s been too long since the CL hymn sounded in the Olimpico (also: show me the moneeeeey). But it would be a shame to focus solely on Serie A when Roma has done so well in Europe recently. It’s almost like they have something to prove, an unofficial title to defend.
Things are looking good in the second leg vs. Sociedad and with a favorable draw in the quarters.
Who knows. Roma might just add another European semifinal to its list.