Roma seek Barcelona miracle
ROME, Italy (AP):
Eusebio Di Francesco implored his Roma players to pull off the "unthinkable" against Barcelona. Roma have an away goal but trail Barcelona 4-1 going into the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final today.
Having reached the last eight for the first time in a decade, Roma feel they have nothing to lose against the likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.
"We have the chance to do something unthinkable, considering that they practically haven't lost a miracle if you will," Di Francesco said yesterday.
Barcelona are undefeated in the Spanish league and the Champions League. Their only three losses came in both legs of the Spanish Super Cup to Real Madrid in August and to Espanyol in the first leg of the Copa del Rey quarter-finals in January.
"We've got the duty to try," Di Francesco said. "Let's remember the home match against Chelsea but let's also remember that we're facing an armada."
Roma were thoroughly impressive in beating Chelsea 3-0 in the group stage, and can also take inspiration from the last time they hosted Barcelona.
In the 2015-16 group stage, Roma held Barcelona to 1-1 courtesy of Alessandro Florenzi's astonishing equaliser from near the halfway line.
But Barcelona routed Roma 6-1 in the reverse fixture in Spain much like it manhandled the Giallorossi last week at the Camp Nou.
Own goals by Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas plus some sloppy defending that allowed Gerard Pique and Luis Suarez to score left Roma on the verge of elimination.
Fortunately for Roma, key midfielder Radja Nainggolan has returned from a thigh injury after missing last week's match in Barcelona.
Turkey winger Cengiz Under, who scored six goals for Roma in February and March, remains questionable due to an injured thigh.
Barcelona, meanwhile, are wary of a Roma response as ithey looks to reach the semi-finals for the first time since they last won the title in 2015.
"I've been in football a long time and know that extraordinary things can happen in football," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "We've got to ensure nothing extraordinary happens tomorrow. We can't take to the field thinking they cannot compete with us. Having too much confidence could cost us dearly."