The Royal Society wants to resurface in Rome

The Basques have only won one of their last seven duels, so they crave a European joy against a lively rival


Real Sociedad visits Roma this Thursday (6:45 p.m.) in the first leg of the Europa League round of 16, in a duel in which the Basques will seek to resurface and abandon the crisis they have been going through in recent weeks, with joy continental against an Italian team that raises its level as a local and that arrives encouraged by its last domestic victory, which will be the first duel between both teams.

Imanol Alguacil’s pupils are not going through their best moment of the course. After a first half of the season always at very high levels, which allowed them to rise to Champions League positions and advance as top of their Europa League group, the team is immersed in a downturn that started with their elimination from the European Cup. King at the end of January in the hands of FC Barcelona (1-0).

Since then, also heavily burdened by the loss of key players such as David Silva or Mikel Merino, he has added just one win (2-3, against Espanyol), with 6 of a possible 18 points in LaLiga Santander. The last setback, which leaves them fourth in the League, was against a Cádiz team that managed to scratch a 0-0 draw at the Reale Arena, further slowing down the already slow inertia of the Basques since February.

For this reason, the Europa League comes at the right time to swerve and change the course, taking advantage of a competition in which their performance has been outstanding. They were first in their group, ahead of Manchester United, with five wins and only one defeat, in addition to only conceding two goals. His productivity away from San Sebastián was also to frame, winning his three duels without conceding a single goal.

In addition, the ‘txuri-urdin’ team will travel to Rome with a historic incentive, since at the Olympic they could lead to their first quarterfinal in a continental competition in the last 34 years -in 1988-89 they reached the semifinals of UEFA in his best season at European level-. For this and without victories on Italian soil, Real needs its best offensive version, its pending issue away from home, without scoring in three of its last four games as a visitor.

As already happened against Cádiz, Sheriff will have 24 footballers -with David Silva, Momo Cho, Mikel Merino, Gorosabel and Guevara already recovered- available, so he will be able to line up his ‘gala eleven’. Without Elustondo or Sadiq, Alex Sorloth would return to the title after being a substitute against the Andalusians. The Canarian midfielder would take Kubo, Oyarzabal or Brais Méndez to the bench, while the coach must decide if Aihen and Sola replace Gorosabel and Diego Rico on the rails.


José Mourinho’s men, an old acquaintance of LaLiga Santander from his time as coach of Real Madrid, welcome Real Sociedad with the joy of their last 1-0 victory over Juventus last Sunday. The victory lifted Roma to fourth place in Serie A, leaving behind the painful defeat against Cremonese and reinforcing their morale ahead of the continental duel in a competition in which they had to play the ‘playoff’ for these eighths.

Paulo Dybala and Andrea Belotti’s Roma eliminated Salzburg in that previous tie, turning the 1-0 defeat against the first leg, clinging to a fruitful and almost impregnable Olympic Stadium. ‘La Loba’ has seven wins in their last eight home games, while in continental competitions they have only lost 2 of their last 33 home games (24 wins, 7 draws).

Those two losses were against LaLiga Santander teams, so in their first official matchup against Real Sociedad, they will try to turn around a poor record of just one win in their last 10 games against Spanish teams. The ‘giallorossi’, current champions of the Conference League, will receive the Basques with no notable casualties, and with former Real Madrid player Diego Llorente in their ranks.



ROME: Rui Patricio; Diego Llorente, Smalling, Mancini; Zalewski, Cristante, Wijnaldum, Spinazzola; Pellegrini, Dybala and Abraham.

ROYAL SOCIETY: Remiro; Gorosabel, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Diego Rico; Brais Mendez, Zubimendi, Merino, Silva; Kubo and Sorloth.

–REFEREE: Sandro Schärer (SUI).

–STADIUM: Olympic Stadium.

–TIME: 18.45/Cuatro and Movistar Champions League.

By Lay

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