Roma v Leicester City preview: Last hurdle to Europa Conference League final

The inaugural Europa Conference League finalists will be decided on Thursday and Roma will hope to beat Leicester City to become one of them.

Roma are one step away from reaching the first ever final of UEFA’s new tertiary tournament. After drawing 1-1 with Leicester in the first leg of their semi-final, the return fixture at Stadio Olimpico will be decisive.

Last week at the King Power Stadium, Lorenzo Pellegrini’s first-half opener was cancelled out by a Gianluca Mancini own goal. It is all to play for back in Rome, where a sell-out crowd will be supporting Jose Mourinho’s men.

After rotating his lineup in Serie A at the weekend, the head coach is likely to stick with the same starting XI from the first leg seven days ago, except for the unavailable Henrikh Mkhitaryan. It will be between Sergio Oliveira and Jordan Veretout to replace him.

In goal, Rui Patricio is likely to reach the landmark of 50 appearances for the club in his debut season. At the opposite end of the pitch, Tammy Abraham is still searching for a first goal against the Foxes.

Leicester also made plenty of changes for their intervening Premier League fixture – a 3-1 loss to Tottenham – but could be calling upon a similar selection to last week’s. Jamie Vardy, James Maddison and Kiernan Dewsbury-Hall have all shaken off fitness doubts to be available again.

If the first leg is anything to go by, it could be another close affair. The home advantage should help Roma; in fact, the last 10 times they have hosted an English opponent, they have earned seven wins, one draw and two defeats.

Most recently, they won the second leg of a European semi-final last season, 3-2 against Manchester United. That wasn’t enough to overturn an aggregate deficit and reach the Europa League final, but this time any win will do.

The winners will then face Marseille or Feyenoord (the latter leading 3-2 at present) in the final on May 25th.

But neither Roma nor any of the other three semi-finalists can get ahead of themselves yet. There are at least 90 minutes still to play in a closely poised tie.

The semi-finals both kick off at 8pm UK time and Roma’s will be live on BT Sport 3.


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