Bayer Leverkusen will hope to overturn a slender 1-0 defeat to AS Roma in the Europa League semi-final when both sides reconvene at BayArena for the second-leg encounter on Thursday night.
Die Werkself were undone by a second-half strike from Edoardo Bove in the reverse fixture at Stadio Olimpico, but they remain in contention to secure a place in the final.
After the defeat to Roma, Leverkusen were held to a 1-1 draw by relegation-threatened VfB Stuttgart in their last outing, which leaves their chances of European qualification hanging in the balance.
However, Xabi Alonso’s side will need to put last weekend’s setback in the rear-view mirror as they hope to thwart Roma in the all-important tie decider.
Jose Mourinho’s heavily rotated Roma side were also held to a goalless draw by mid-table Bologna last weekend, leaving them sixth in the Serie A table, six points adrift of the top four.
Whatever hopes they harbour of featuring in the Champions League next season hinges on success in the Europa League, but they will fancy their chances of reaching the final despite only holding a slender lead.
Leverkusen have failed to win any of their last four games (D2, L2), but Alonso will hope his side can end that unwanted run at home to the Italian giants.
However, Die Werkself have failed to beat Thursday’s opponents in their last four meetings (D2, L2) since the first European clash between both sides in October 2004.
Leverkusen have only progressed from one of their last 11 knockout ties in major European competitions after losing the first leg, having overcome AS Monaco in the Europa League play-offs earlier this season.
The Germans have been different gravy under Alonso’s stewardship, and the Spanish manager will hope his side can muster an inspired performance and rally to victory in front of the home faithful.
Roma are not exactly on a peachy run of form themselves, having won just one of their last six games in all competitions (D3, L2) – although that victory came in the first leg of this tie.
They have won just two of their previous 15 matches in Europe away to German opponents (D1, L12), failing to win any of the last five (D1, L4), which puts a dent in their chances of victory in Leverkusen.
However, Roma have progressed from 23 of their last 25 knockout ties in major European competitions after winning the first leg, and Mourinho will be keen to continue that trend with a potential successive European finals on the horizon.
They have won just one of their last eight away games in Europe (D3, L4) while failing to score in the previous three but halting that record will not be a priority for the Italians as a draw will be enough to go through to the final.
Bayer Leverkusen vs AS Roma Potential Line-ups
Bayer Leverkusen (3-4-3): Lukas Hradecky; Edmond Tapsoba, Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie; Jeremie Frimpong, Kerem Demirbay, Exequiel Palacios, Mitchel Bakker; Moussa Diaby, Amine Adli, Florian Wirtz.
AS Roma (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Gianluca Mancini, Bryan Cristante, Roger Ibanez; Zeki Celik, Nemanja Matic, Edoardo Bove, Leonardo Spinazzola; Lorenzo Pellegrini, Georginio Wijnaldum; Tammy Abraham.
We Say: Bayer Leverkusen 1-1 AS Roma (Agg 1-2)
Jose Mourinho is an expert when it comes to knockout football especially approaching the latter stages, so the Portuguese tactician and his Giallorossi side should see out the challenge from the German and seal a place in the final with an aggregate victory.
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