Roma hold firm in Spain as Roma through into the Last Eight #1725

Roma 0 Real Sociedad 0FT (Roma win 2–0 On AGG)

Eliot Ben-Ner
The Football Hub
Published in
8 min readMar 17


Following an Italian football weekend riddled with controversy in Roma’s 4–3 defeat to Sassuolo, the Romans return to Europa League action against Real Sociedad. Roma heading to Spain as they look to finish the job against the La Liga side. Roma currently holds 2–0 advantage as they took care of business in the first leg in Rome. Jose Mourinho’s in a fantastic position to clinch their spot into the quarterfinals. As long as they hold firm, there should be no problem with them getting it across the line. Meanwhile, on the other side of things, Real Sociedad in need of quite a performance in order to turn things around. However, crazy things have happened on European nights. The second leg of the round is 16 would take off as kickoff approached in Spain. It’s now or never for real Sociedad as Roma look to hold firm and clinch their position into the last eight as Roma’s European adventure continues.

The seats filled at real segos stadium in Sociedad for a critical Europa League round of 16 clash the second leg; it’s now or never for the Spaniards as the Italians vow to hold firm. It was expected to be an incredibly defensive approach from Roma. They let their La Liga counterparts have the majority of the ball, and we’re set up to keep them at a distance. The mentality of this Roma side tonight was to stop them while they would take chances when they came. This was purposely designed to shut them down. However, despite the manner in which the match unraveled, it was Roma who provided the game’s first chance. In the third minute, Gini tries capitalizing of a corner kick, but the Dutchman’s ambitious touch doesn’t test the opposition. Real Sociedad went at the Romans a huge gulp in possession, heavily favoring the La Liga side. In the 11th minute, Robin Le Normand collected the ball from Mendes before striking from distance as his strike from distance hooks to the right. It didn’t feel like this was a match that was going to accumulate a large number of chances. However, Dybala, and the 15th minute try to squeeze one in as he strikes from distance after Lorenzo Pellegrini provides him, but no can do it as the defense blocks it. The Spaniards continued to have possession and try to infiltrate the Roma defense, but they constantly got knocked back. Real Sociedad needed a hot start, and they were finding things very difficult against his Roma defense. Romans defense is one of the best in Europe. Now occasionally, they can put forward a stinker, but overall it is one of Roma’s best qualities despite not having high-profile defenders. The Spaniards, however, did win themselves a corner in the 23rd minute. Diego Rico took a swipe from distance but couldn’t land it. A little while after, Real Sociedad throws Roma into action. In the 29th minute, Mendes took a swipe from the left of the box as Rui Patricio called into action but managed to make the save. 2 minutes later, he was there again. In the 31st minute, Mikel Merino looks from distance, but once again, Rui Patricio makes the important save as Roma keep everything intact. The game plan worked to their advantage. In the 39th minute, the Spaniards tried once again from distance, but the strike could not get through the aroma defense as, once again they were in the way of it. In the 41st minute, Roma was forced to make a change as Diego Rico and Rick Karsdrop have a brutal exchange in the box, with the elbow of Rico hitting the face of the Dutchman. He was on the ground for several minutes. It was a very concerning moment as initially, he did not seem mobile, appearing to have the wind knocked out of him. Blood came from his nose and face after the exchange. However, the Dutchman managed to get up but did have to be removed for safety measures as Nicola Zalewski comes to his aid. In the 45th minute, it did look like Roma had found the back of the net as Chris Smalling got a touch to a Dybala corner into the back of the net; however, video review showed that he made contact with his hand as he was scoring as the goal was correctly disallowed. This will end the first half in a stalemate in the second leg of the Europa League round of 16 between Roma and Real Sociedad.

Roma finds themselves 45 minutes away from the quarterfinals. Thus far, the game plan has worked perfectly. While Roma has offered next to nothing going forward, the team’s defensive structure was essential as they still have seemed to keep the La Liga side at arm’s length. However, it is only expected that the second half Real Sociedad would amp it up. In the 47th minute, Sorloth came dangerously close as he followed through on a header coming from a cross by Mendez. He had a good connection and was directing it in the right way, but it goes a little wide. Roma briefly tries to hit back in the 49th minute as Zalewski attempted to swipe from distance and ended up deflected by the defense. The minutes came on as Real Sociedad held the ball in and around the Roma box. However, the Spaniards still found difficulty breaking them down. In the 54th minute, Mendez looked to have a clean look on goal only to be deflected as the Roma defense came out of nowhere to get in front of it. They suffered the same fate again. There’s a few minutes later, in the 56th minute, Merino gets his strike blocked from close range. It was just continued pressure being put forth from real Sociedad, but Roma was unfazed and continued and continued to stay on top of it, in the 68th minute. However, Sociedad nearly broke through. Oyarzabal was denied by Rui Patricio following a cross from Mendez. He then hits the bar a moment later. Perhaps a goal that could have given them a little bit more life. Minuscule margins keep Roma in a position to qualify. In the 74th minute, Kubo phased the wrath of the Roma defense as another attempted swipe-on-goal deal was dealt with. Then in, a minute later, in the 75th minute, Mendez drives the ball into Zubeldia as he connects on the header but ranges to the right. Roma brought in El Shaarawy and Tammy Abraham. In the 77th minute, Kubo comes close this time from distance but still can’t get there. It became a defensive clinic almost all the way through. In the 86 minute, Kubo sends a cross into Carla Fernandez. His header ranging on target but the Roma defense in the way of it once again. A pair of strikes from outside the box dealt with again by the aroma defense in the 90th minute. Been in the closing moments in the 94th minute Robin Le Normad sees a shot blocked then. Carlos Fernandez header on the final play hooks to the left as he falls to the ground. Chris Smalling comes over to him and taunts him after the play as Carlos Fernandez pushes his back and earns himself a second yellow card as he was sent off on the final play. It is a goalless draw in Spain as Roma’s 2–0 lead in Rome sees Roma hold on as they qualify for the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

On Sunday, Roma went through a roller coaster of emotions. Considering the controversy at the weekend, it could even be described as emotional disgust. However, they came here in Spain tonight knowing they had a job to do. There was this sense. It was going to be very difficult. I may not rate La Liga that highly in comparison to past years. However, real Sociedad had so many special qualities in their side and can be quite dangerous, especially at home, where they seem to take it into another gear. They are well coached and handball the materials to make every game at their ground extremely tough. As Roma approached this situation, what we were going to see from Roma was very predictable. This was a defensive master class; they allowed their La Liga counterparts to dominate possession. They welcomed the challenge of them, attacking them in the box and trying to make them flinch. They presented quite a difficulty, especially when they came forward. The Spaniards looked extremely dangerous. However, even though mistakes were made on the weekend defensively. With Mourinho back on the bench, this was a chess match. With the two-goal advantage coming into this, they handled themselves brilliantly. They provided very little in the attacking phase, but as expected, with the two-goal lead Roma was going to shut it down. Defensively not allowing the opposition to get there. Real Sociedad Hit the post and caused the defense and Rui Patricio to come up with big moments. Roma, ultimately, in the end, managed to hold them off. It was a true battle, a very physical affair between the two sides. One of which trying to hold its lead while the other trying to overturn the deficit. It turned out to be incredibly tough and intense from all angles, even with us sending off in the end. Along with Rick Karsdrop getting bloodied up. In the end, Romans defensive approach held firm in Spain as they followed through into the quarterfinals. It is only going to get more difficult from here. However, Roma still shows that they should be one of the favorites for the Europa League. While they were well aware of the attacking potential they have with Dybala, they showed that conceding against Roma is extremely dangerous because they can shut it down, and in most cases, there’s nothing that can be done about it. This is just the type of momentum they need to take them into the derby this weekend. Roma does need to build on this and get themselves back in the frame of things as it comes to Champions League qualification this season, with everything very tight in the picture. A big win against Lazio this weekend on top of tonight’s performance will do wonders for their season.