The second day of Champions League knockout action is about to start, with the Ukrainian side sitting tops of their league (having won it last season) while Roma have been smacked around of late, dropping to 8th position a full thirteen points off the lead in the Serie A.
What’s the problem at Rome? There are a few injuries that are causing concern: Striker Marco Borriello has a nagging thigh injury keeping him on the bench, and preferred midfielder David Pizzaro is feeling pain from a recurring knee injury. Of some serious concern is the injury to first choice keeper Julio Sergio, who will be replaced by former first choice Doni. The Italian side should be excited to have their talisman Francesco Totti back in action, though rust may play a part in his finding space amongst the quick midfield of the Girnyky.
The ex-soviet side come into the match having bested Arsenal at home to claim top spot in their group stage. But, speaking of rust, they’re on an extended winter break and haven’t played in roughly two months now. They traveled early, hoping to become accustomed to the 60 degree change in temps (and had a chance to tour the Vatican, how lovely!). What’s most interesting perhaps is the number of samba boys on the side: Adriano (a currently effective version, not the one who may come on for 5 minutes at the end for Roma), Eduardo (Croatian…technically), William, Jádson, Costa, Teixeira, and Fernandinho (out today, unfortunately). Pretty much the entire midfield was born in South America, plus the little spark plug up top.
Roma have historically held firm against the Ukrainian side at home, though they haven’t played in a number of years now and are in the middle of a three-game slump. What’s most concerning is the lack of faith in the gaffer, with Ranieri reportedly having lost the support of his dressing room and the boardroom as well. The well-traveled manager insists nothing is wrong, though concerning the security of his job he has opined, “The coach is like the husband, he’s the last to find out about certain things.”