At the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday, Roma and Real Betis continue their Europa League campaigns. These two teams are considered the favorites to win Group C.
The visitors, who have a perfect record thus far, are three points ahead of their hosts going into the Eternal City in the standings, and both teams are doing well at home.
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Roma lost to the Bulgarian champions Ludogorets on the first day of the Europa League group stage, but came back with a win over HJK Helsinki the following match.
As a result of the Finnish team’s captain Miro Tenho being sent off after just 14 minutes, Jose Mourinho’s team easily defeated their opponents 3-0 at home by putting 29 shots on goal.
Roma, an ambitious team, went all the way in the inaugural Europa Conference League last season and won the trophy in Tirana. They are eager to repeat that success in Europe’s second-tier competition.
But a lot depends on what happens over the next three days to determine their fate. The Giallorossi cannot afford to falter, especially given that Ludogorets may very well take maximum points from their doubleheader with HJK.
The Giallorossi are set to face Real Betis twice in quick succession, with the return match in Seville scheduled a week after Thursday’s encounter at the Olimpico.
Roma has gone undefeated in their last 20 home games in Europe, winning 14 of them. They are now hosting their Spanish opponents for the first time ever in a competitive game.
The previous time they hosted in Serie A, they actually lost to Atalanta by a score of 1-0, but Mourinho went on to lead his team to an increasingly rare road victory over fellow top-six candidates.
The victory over his former team Inter at San Siro over the weekend, which he witnessed from the club bus due to a touchline suspension, will have reinforced Roma’s progress under his management and increased team spirit.
Less than 24 hours after Roma grabbed three points on Saturday thanks to goals from the unstoppable Paulo Dybala and defensive rock Chris Smalling, Real Betis lost for just the second time this season.
Los Verdiblancos lost to Celta Vigo after having former Lazio defender Luiz Felipe sent off early in the game when they were already down one goal, dropping them to fourth in La Liga.
Nevertheless, they have won seven of their nine games thus far in the 2022–23 season, with their lone loss coming on the road to the reigning champions Real Madrid, a team that their veteran coach Manuel Pellegrini previously coached.
Betis defeated Ludogorets their most recent time out, prevailing 3-2 at Benito Villamarin after defeating HJK in their opening Europa League match. They therefore have the position of Group C’s leadership and, should they prevail in their conflicts with the Roma, can exert a stranglehold on it.
Lifting the Copa del Rey in April produced a similar feeling of satisfaction as their Conference League champion rivals, and as both teams continue their pursuit of additional hardware, a compelling contest will be waged in the coming days.
Roma, who are stronger at home, can hold their Group C opponents to a score draw this week, setting up a fascinating rematch in Seville. Although both sides present a strong danger going forward, Mourinho and Pellegrini’s tactical conflict may result in a draw.