AS Roma's Daniele De Rossi embraces Europa League semifinal challenge vs. Bayer Leverkusen


AS Roma will face Bayer Leverkusen on Thursday for the first leg of the Europa League semifinals at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome and the Giallorossi manager Daniele De Rossi has the most difficult task to beat the only side in the top five European leagues that still hasn’t lost this season. Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen are, in fact, still unbeaten and it definitely won’t be easy for the Italian side to win against them across two legs. However, AS Roma have a chance to do it. Let’s see how. 

It’s still uncertain if Roma will have to play the first leg without a key player such as Romelu Lukaku, who is not at his best and probably won’t start on Thursday, but he can probably make an impact during the game. Despite that, De Rossi will count on both Paulo Dybala and Stephan El Sharaawy to support striker Tammy Abraham, players that were able to bring the club back to Champions League qualification contention under De Rossi. 

How to watch and odds

  • Date: Thursday, May 2 | Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: Stadio Olimpico — Rome, Italy
  • Live stream: Paramount+
  • Odds: AS Roma +250; Draw +155; Bayer Leverkusen +125

Since the former Roma captain was appointed as new coach of the Italian side to replace Jose Mourinho last January, AS Roma completely changed the path of their season and are now fighting for a Champions League spot in the Italian Serie A, while they are also in the semifinals of the Europa League after beating Italian giants AC Milan in quarterfinals. Winning Europa is a huge chance for De Rossi and the club to continue in their European tradition, after winning the Conference League in 2022 and reaching the final of the same Europa League last season to only lose against Sevilla. 

Bayer Leverkusen, on the other side, are flying this season and are still unbeaten in all competitions. After officially winning the 2023-24 Bundesliga and reaching the final of the DFB Pokal (will face Kaiserslautern in the final on May 25) the side coached by the former football legend Xabi Alonso has the chance to win its first European trophy in the history of the club and the next step is to avoid another loss against the same team that knocked them out last year in the same stage of the competition. 

Roma will need to count on their defensive skills and avoid the counterattacks and the ball possession that made Leverkusen one of the best teams around Europe. 

“We must remember that Bayer can be dangerous when they attack but we also have to attack ourselves,” De Rossi said during the pre-match press conference. 

“The tie is played over two games. Now we must focus on the first one and then we’ll worry about the second one. But without looking too much at last year because everything has changed since then. It’s the same two clubs but two different teams and two different moments. They have more self-belief because they’re the German champions. They’re more aware of what a great team they are and the fact they could win a European trophy.”

Apart from Romelu Lukaku, who is likely to be involved during the game, Rick Karsdorp is ahead of Rasmus Kristensen to replace suspended Zeki Celik, who was sent off in last month’s quarterfinal against AC Milan. AS Roma have a huge chance, but it won’t be easy at all to repeat the success of last year, especially against this team that seems unbeatable. If De Rossi gets it done, it’s easy to imagine that his rising stock will only skyrocket in pursuit of glory at the club he most adores.

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