Sevilla v Roma preview: Europa League returns with Round of 16 showdown

Roma get their Europa League campaign back underway on Thursday night, as they face Sevilla in a one-off Round of 16 match.

The game was initially supposed to take place over two legs back in March, but was postponed due to coronavirus. With the tournament now back underway, Roma will finally meet their Spanish opponents in Duisburg, Germany.

With just one leg to determine the winner, there could be extra time if things are level after 90 minutes. Whichever team has the lead at full-time, though, will progress to face either Wolves or Olympiacos in the quarter-finals.

Roma go into the game on the back of an eight-game unbeaten run at the end of the Serie A season. Sevilla also found form in recent months, and did not lose after the re-start of La Liga. However, with their league season having ended two weeks earlier, Roma may be better placed to continue their momentum.

To do so, they will have to navigate the tie without two key players in Chris Smalling and Jordan Veretout. The former has not been allowed to compete in the remainder of the competition after his loan spell from Manchester United expired. Roger Ibanez will replace him in the back three.

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As for who will replace Veretout, who is suspended, it could be either Bryan Cristante or Lorenzo Pellegrini. The latter did not play in the last two games of Serie A due to a broken nose, but has since returned to training with a protective mask.

Spaniard Gonzalo Villar could be another option to partner Amadou Diawara, after impressing against Juventus in the season finale. However, Paulo Fonseca seems more likely to choose between Cristante or Pellegrini.

Fonseca was willing to confirm another starter, however. Nicolo Zaniolo will play from the first minute for the second game in a row.

Signing the Italian starlet was one of the brighter spots of Monchi’s time at Roma. The sporting director returned to Sevilla last year, but now comes face to face with his former employers again.

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Monchi will not be the only familiar face among the opposing ranks. On the pitch, Sevilla have the likes of Suso, Franco Vazquez and Ever Banega to call on. All three have had experience playing in Serie A before.

The main man to watch, though, will be someone else with a past in Italy – Lucas Ocampos. The wide man has enjoyed the joint-most prolific season of his career to date, with 16 goals in 40 games across all competitions.

None of those goals have come in Europe, but he remains the danger man for Sevilla.

Leonardo Spinazzola is likely to face him in a direct battle, with Aleksandar Kolarov sitting behind him in Roma’s back three. Bruno Peres will almost certainly occupy the other flank for Fonseca’s side.

It’s bound to be a fascinating tie for the first ever competitive meeting between the two clubs. Roma have had mixed fortunes against Spanish sides in recent years – double losses to Real Madrid last season spring to mind, but so does a 4-0 triumph against Villarreal in 2017, in which Edin Dzeko scored a hat-trick, and of course the unforgettable comeback against Barcelona.

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Dzeko will lead the line tonight five years to the day since he landed in Rome. Coincidentally, the first goals he scored for the club were in a friendly against Sevilla.

There’s much more at stake for this game, though, so Roma will be ready to put on a performance.

The game kicks off at 5:55pm UK time and will be broadcast live on BT Sport 3. If Roma win, they will then be keeping an eye on the clash between Wolves and Olympiacos, either of whom they would face next. That game kicks off at 8pm and, if interested, fans can watch it live on BT Sport 1.

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