As is often the case in Italy’s Capital, the 2022-2023 season has been topsy-turvy for the Giallorossi. There have been some big ups like beating Juventus at the Olimpico and coming up clutch in the Europa League quarterfinals against Feyenoord. And conversely, as indicated by Roma’s sixth position in the league table, there have been plenty of downs like losing to Cremonese and dropping twelve of their last fifteen points in the league to fall out of the top-four race.
However, the overall assessment of the campaign will likely hinge on what Roma does in the Europa League. Finish outside the top four and crash out against Leverkusen today and the season likely feels like a failure. But, even finishing outside the top four will be forgiven if the Giallorossi can lift another European trophy and return to the Champions League via the tournament route.
That makes today’s match in Germany decisive. Roma enters with a 1-0 aggregate lead thanks to Edoardo Bove and some solid defense in the first leg. Mourinho received a big boost with the returns from injury of Chris Smalling, Paulo Dybala, Gini Wijnaldum, and Stephan El Shaarawy. None will start, but all will provide quality off the bench if called upon to play a part.