AS Roma – a Sleeping Giant on the Road to Recovery4 min read
There can be no arguing Roma’s role in this season’s Champions League semi-finals. In Bayern Munich and Real Madrid, there are the heavyweights. Between them, the two clubs have won the competition 17 times and they have the pedigree to make it 18 times this season. In Liverpool, there’s the resurgent force. They too have European pedigree, but haven’t been a factor on the continent for over a decade. And in Roma, there’s the underdogs.
They are the odd ones out. Only once have the Giallorossi made the final of the European Cup, losing to this season’s semi-final opponents Liverpool in 1984. This is what Roma will attempt to avenge on Wednesday night, with Eusebio Di Francesco’s side faced with a 5-2 deficit to overturn. They must evoke the spirit of their quarter-final second leg display against Barcelona.
Regardless of whether Roma can pull off the impossible for the second successive round, their Champions League campaign could have a profound impact on a club long considered to be something of a sleeping giant. The Giallorossi may well suffer disappointment this week, but this could prove to be a catalyst for even bigger and better things in the not so distant future.
Financially, this run to the Champions League semi finals has already bolstered the coffers. Until their remarkable comeback win over Barca, Roma hadn’t had a shirt sponsor since the 2012/13 season. They had been holding out for a worthwhile offer, and they finally got one before the semi final first leg against Liverpool, signing a three-year deal with Qatar Airways.
This is a club that has plans to move into a new stadium in the coming years, leaving behind the cavernous Stadio Olimpico which often makes Roma seem like squatters. If this comes to pass, this will only further help the club fulfil their true potential as a force both in Serie A and in the Champions League.
Other pieces are already in place. In Monchi, they also boast the best sporting director in all of the European game. The former Sevilla goalkeeper had his pick of every elite club after leaving Sevilla last summer, such was the success he enjoyed in La Liga, but he was lured by Roma’s project. While he could have gone to Arsenal, Chelsea or even Manchester United, all of whom were on the search for a new sporting director this time last year, Monchi felt he could make more of a mark at the Studio Olimpico.
Roma have injected a great deal of excitement into a competition which had grown rather stale in recent years, with the same old suspects making the final four of the Champions League season after season. But in time, their run might prove to be anything but a fluke. This might be the first indication that Roma are set to rise even further.