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Holding Leicester City to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of this UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) semi-final has boosted Roma’s chances of reaching their first UEFA competition final since the 1990/91 UEFA Cup. Sunday’s home clash against Bologna wasn’t the ideal preparation for this meeting though after manager José Mourinho was forced to call upon rested regular starters (including Tammy Abraham and Rick Karsdorp) to help his side try and secure a crucial victory - but that was something they ultimately failed to do (0-0).
That result may end up damaging their Europa League prospects for next season, placing further pressure on Roma to qualify via winning the UECL. It was also the fourth competitive fixture since the beginning of February that Roma failed to win at home (W4, D4), but with away goals no longer coming into play, their impressive unbeaten home record across their last two seasons of continental football (W9, D4) should be a well of confidence to draw from.
Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers stated he and his players have “no fear” as they head to the Stadio Olimpico in pursuit of the club’s first-ever UEFA final, and it was clear where his priorities lay after resting several starters in their recent Premier League defeat at Tottenham (3-1). Rodgers lost five of his first seven clashes with “The Special One”, but he can now boast going two games undefeated against Mourinho after a 2-0 win away to Mourinho’s Tottenham side last season which preceded last week’s 1-1 draw.
The Foxes’ path to this semi-final saw them follow up a home draw with a dramatic come-from-behind 2-1 win at PSV, their second away victory from three attempts in the knockout stage of this tournament. How they handle the step up to Roma could be a different story, especially when you take into account Leicester have lost all six UEFA trips they’ve played against clubs in Europe’s top-five leagues throughout their history, most recently in the Round of 16 vs French side Rennes (L 2-1).
Players to watch: Lorenzo Pellegrini has scored for Roma in two UECL knockout fixtures so far. Kelechi Iheanacho was Leicester’s only goalscorer at the weekend and also found the net in their Round of 16 triumph.
Hot stat: Since the beginning of the UECL’s Round of 16, 73% of the matches have seen both teams score.
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