As It Happened.. Champions League Round Of 16 2nd leg Roma vs Porto Talking Points #494


Coming off the Derby loss Roma faced Porto in Champions League round of 16-second leg in what was a do-or-die to make their second consecutive quarter-final. Roma went into the game with a 2-1 Advantage after winning the first leg in Rome. Conceding a crucial away goal at the Stadio Olimpico gave Porto hope. With everything that has gone on with the club this season their struggles and inconsistencies advancement would have been great for Roma. However, a desirable performance was not in the cards it was an opportunity to play their best match of the season something they were unable to do. Porto had control throughout dominated possession and created more scoring opportunities. Porto found a way in front scoring a first-half goal that would give them the advantage of taking them out to a 1-0 lead. However, Roma found a way back into the game. Roma was given a penalty as a Daniele de Rossi stepped up. As the Roma Captain converted from 12 yards out. It would put Roma back in front making it 1-1 after the first half. Everything was there for them a goal would have most likely killed off the game but it just did not happen. A second-half strike from Moosa Maraga gave Porto the 2-1 lead. It would ultimately force extra time as Roma tried it to get back into the game a little bit. Just minutes from the end of the game Porto has given a penalty a soft penalty ultimately the right decision. Alex Telles delivered the final blow giving Porto the lead in extra-time. However, a bit of late controversy occurred at the stroke of death. Patrik Schick was clipped in the Box a clear penalty that was completely ignored by the referee. After using the VAR on the penalty just four minutes earlier he decided that is not worth reviewing causing absolute outrage. Porto played with tremendous courage as they eliminated Roma from the Champions League’s but given the circumstances at the end of the game has a bitter taste and defeat.






VAR Controversy



Porto did deserve to win this game they were the better team and the rightful winner of the match the controversy at the end does need to be mentioned. The VAR victimizers Roma once again while I am well aware Roma failed to deliver when it counted at the most those variables are all true. However with that being said the controversy at the end of the match speaks volumes on how this game was officiated. VAR was just recently instituted into the Champions League after receiving criticism last season. During last season campaign in the historic comeback against Barcelona during the first leg a stone wall Edin Dzeko penalty was denied. Then in the semi-finals against Liverpool in the first leg Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino goals we’re off side. Meaning the score of the first leg would have been 3-2 rather than 5-2 big difference right? Then in the second leg against Liverpool there were two Stonewall penalties one that was completely obvious to everyone. Over the two legs Liverpool were the better team and deserve to be in the Champions League final but the circumstances were a gut punch. This season VAR is in operation during the Champions League yet we’re having the same issue. I am not going to deny Porto’s penalty without question it was a penalty that’s not my issue. Patrik Schick was clipped in the box in the closing moments of this game and it is ignored. My issue is this you cannot have a different protocol for two different penalties. It’s almost like the referee decided they didn’t want Roma winning the game. I’m not completely blaming the but I find it extremely odd that it was not looked at. Porto’s penalty went through the VAR and video replay system before ultimately being given. Roma had a similar situation and the same logic was not used. That is the issue I have Roma by no stretch deserve to win this game they didn’t play well enough that is just the facts of the situation. However in the end of the game we’re talking the 120th minute you can and not miss. At the very least you go back and look at the potential penalty. Honestly it was a penalty and had a Roma scored they would be in the quarter-finals a call of that magnitude cannot be blown at the end. Roma once again is victim of this VAR this is a beautiful thing if it is constructed with integrity last night in Portugal that certainly was not the case.







Wrong Approach Leads to the End of Di Francesco  


While everyone is going to look at the missed penalty call at the end. Roma created their own demise by their approach to the game. Roma went into this game with an advantage all Roma needed to do is get at least one away goal. Ironically speaking they got it because of an earlier penalty but the approach and the way they went at Porto was really unencouraging. The first half performance was uncomfortable they didn’t display anything that even signified that this was a must-win game. I’m not saying they did not give effort because I certainly did especially at the end but their way I approach the game held them back. The formation change I thought was completely unnecessary. If DiFrancesco was going to make a change in formation they should have gone to the 4-2-3-1 because of the success it has given Roma at times this season. Going to a very risky 3 at the back and the 3-4-3 was an unbelievable risk that was not worth taking. I also thought the lineup choices where a bit strange even though Lorenzo Pellegrini eventually entered the game he was the Kingpin to creating offense and he started the game on the bench. I thought various ways and how this team lined up was an encouraging and a little nerve-racking to look at. Roma is not a team that can play defensive because of how poor they have been in that area. In the goalkeeper and in the back line. This is NOT like Jose Mourinho Inter Milan team who could suffocate you with their defense. Roma has conceded a lot of goals this season this is not a stone wall backline. Roma should have attacked early getting that away goal and trying to build momentum. The approach was completely wrong and I think in the long run it largely impacted the result of the match. They were already in hostile territory in a place where it’s very difficult to play the way they played did not help their situation. They sat back for far too long created next to nothing for the first 90 minutes didn’t really get in first gear until extra time. The penalty is unfortunate and could have changed the results but that does not excuse the way they performed. Even if Roma had this game they would not have looked at the performance as positive. Diego Perotti did really well I was really impressed and his performance but outside of that it seems like no one else was really trying to create anything. Partly you have to blame the players but DiFrancesco does take some blame because of the way he lined up his team. In games like this, it proves why Roma are coming up short. A different approach if they were aggressive they could have killed this game off and they would be sitting in the quarterfinals rather than watching a comeback. They may be done not deserve the way everything unveiled but their fate was deserved. it has appeared to be the last straw although I do not believe DiFrancesco is fully at fault following the exit from the Champions League he was sacked this morning. I would personally like to thank him for everything he has done for the club he truly has been one of my favorites but I respect the club to make this decision.


Porto’s Courage


Porto hit Roma in the mouth last night and deserve a tremendous amount of credit and respect for the way they have performed. The outrage due to the Penalty call is not aimed at their club is aimed at the referee and the decision making. However Porto really truly have been an underdog story this season and after many people speculated that they were dead in the water but came back and now they are in quarterfinals. It was a little hard to understand what their approach was going to be in this game the Portuguese side completely went for it. They showed their aggressiveness and attacked that was an approach I don’t think Roma was expecting. Porto just needed one chance to go through in this game after accumulating the away goal. They risked Everything to try and win the game. Even when Roma got their away goal Porto never lost confidence they attacked Roma on a constant basis. They’re finishing ability in front of goal certainly was an issue at times during this game. However, they continuously attacked they controlled possession and try to dictate the game. They did take advantage of some defensive mistakes from Roma but despite that being said they were able to play the game through the entire 120 Minutes. You can say whatever you want about the refereeing decisions at the end there’s no question about it that Porto did deserve to win this game they were the much better teams they play with courage and ambition. They had one thing in mind to beat Roma it never was about trying to strategically hold off the Roma attack it was about trying to make them suffer. Porto came at them with no fear. Are completely deserving of what they’ve accomplished. I really respected the way they went about their game plans they had a plan in place and they executed that is why they find themselves in the final 8.





Core Of the Problem 


Let’s not let the circumstances of last night get us away from the core of the problem. It is quite clear what the problem has been over the last few seasons I don’t think anyone can actually be denied it is that set in stone. Why is Juventus so successful? They have run this league for almost 10 years. The reason for their success as a hold on to key players and if they lose them they’re able to replace them. They’re not perfect they’ve been two Champions League finals they have kept their core throughout this entire run and it’s not like there haven’t been offers for their players. Roma over the last several years have sold Gervinho who is killing it at Parma, Pjanic who might just be the most complete midfielder in Europe, Mohamed Salah one of the five best players in the world, Alisson Becker arguably the best keeper in the world, Antonio Rudiger Chelsea’s most consistent player and I could go on and on. I understand the financial part of this game it is pretty essential at many points. Sometimes you’re in a situation when you need to sell players to keep your head above water. You cannot tell me Roma needed to sell every single season Roma stay together they’re winning the Scudetto. Monchi came in here with the reputation of creating greatness in Europe even though some of his signings have been pretty good he’s not doing his job enough. Honestly, it appears he’s leaving this summer. A lot of people blame James Pallotta I’m honestly not going to do that because Monchi is the one who brings in the players and decides to send them out. He is struck gold with a few prospects Nicolo Zaniolo & Lorenzo Pellegrini as well A few others. The problem is the rest of it. Justin Kluivert is a talented player there’s no denying that but signing him it to be one of your Premier signings isn’t good enough. You sell Allison for 75 million and you sign his replacement for 8.5 million. Honestly, I like Robin Olson but he is not good enough for Roma I think he’s a tremendous goalkeeper and at times has saved Roma from some sticky situations but these are the types of things it has created this. if you sell your best players and don’t replace them with better ones you’re not going to get anywhere Roma are going to continue to be who they are. Which is a top 5 team Roma are not a top-three team anymore when Roma had their core intact they finished second the core of the problem lies in management and the transfer market. You cannot build a championship team with that sort of process and mentality I’m not saying they swung and missed on everyone but building this team and selling pieces every season it’s only going to take this team further back.



Porto Makes historic Quterfinals 



Porto makes a history-making the quarterfinals for the first time since 1986 A True Underdog Story in the making. Porto managed to win their group which may not have been the strongest but wasn’t the weakest with strong teams like Schalke and Galatasaray. Porto went through the entire length of the group stage without losing a game. Helping them get a favorable draw. Every team in Europe that was in the round of 16 hoped-for Porto they seemingly looked like the most winnable team out of everyone. Roma even probably hopped for Porto given what their Alternatives would have been. They pull off the upset coming back from a 2-1 deficit in the first leg to find a way through. The away goal they scored in Rome proved to be incredibly important this team has displayed courage and has creative ideas on their approach to the game. It will all depend on who they draw but I feel like this team have the potential to challenge anyone. Once again every team in Europe will hope they get Porto to them I would say be careful what you wish for. This team may not have Superstars but collectively together they play in such a way together that they may not need one. I am honestly pulling for them and hoping a keeps just Cinderella run going. Last season Roma was the Dark Horse team that surprised everyone and I think this season that that team is Porto. Much like Roma they lost the first leg to the one on the road and was managed to crawl it back. I would be surprised if we see a historical Barcelona type come back from this team but with all those variables I think this team has a great chance to go on a Deep Run. They will be underestimated continuously and maybe that’s just what they want a quarterfinal for a team like Porto is unbelievable. They’ve deserved to be in the quarter-finals if you underestimate them they will surprise you.

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