A midweek packed with European football delights continues Thursday with the latest round of fixtures from the Europa League. There is plenty of action for armchair fans to follow, with some of the sport’s top teams jostling for a place in the next round. But the match that caught the eye of our team of football writers will be played in Spain, where Real Sociedad takes on Roma from 20:00 GMT.
The visitors hold the advantage in this Spain v Italy match after Roma eased to a 2-0 aggregate lead in the first leg. They made home advantage count to race into a comfortable position, but the Roma coaching staff, players, and fans know nothing has been decided yet. This tie hangs in the balance, and if the leaders think they need only turn up to finish the job, they could be in for a shock. An early goal from Sociedad in front of their fans would turn this game on its head. And the locals know it.
The footballing history books and stats sheets show Real Sociedad and Roma have met only once before in competitive action. That introduction occurred earlier this month at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, where the Serie A side blasted their way to a 2-0 victory. Can Roma maintain its 100% record in this fixture?
Real Sociedad knows losing again isn’t an option, while a draw would also send them tumbling out of the running. This is an all-or-nothing scenario for the locals, with an exciting night ahead. Will they pull it off? Keep reading to find out as our writers study the stats and recent form of both teams before settling on our final prediction.
Spaniards were poor on their travels
Real Sociedad is one of many Spanish teams that have performed well in this competition over the years, with La Liga providing more Europa League champions than any other league. They went to Rome for the first leg of this Round of 16 match, hoping to be competitive. The main goal if they could not get the away win was to avoid the kind of heavy defeat that would render this rematch meaningless. Despite losing by two goals to nil on Italian soil, they achieved that. The tie remains finely poised.
Sociedad lost the first leg 2-0, which knocked their European campaign off-track, but only slightly. The locals are under pressure when playing at home in the second leg but know an early goal will change things. Spurred on by the crowd, Sociedad will try to get an early goal to help build momentum and move some of the pressure to their opponents. The earlier they break the deadlock, the better in the minds of Real Sociedad supporters. But they must avoid the urge to come out all guns blazing. A tactical and secure approach is required.
If Sociedad fails to get their goal in the opening exchanges, their chances won’t end. It doesn’t matter when and how they get the goals needed if they win by two or more on the night. Finding the net is far more critical than scoring early, with Real needing goals. If they score first, it’s game on, and the crowd will come alive. If Sociedad loses the first goal, they’ll heap more pressure on their shoulders.
Roma still has work to do
With a solid two-goal lead on aggregate, the Roma fans would be forgiven for thinking this tie is over. But there’s still plenty left to play for in Spain, and those in the visiting dressing room will be made aware of that fact. Yes, they are in control and hold all the aces here, but a lapse in concentration could blow the tie apart. It’s happened to Roma in the past, but have they learned the lessons from past mistakes? Only time will tell.
Roma is in such a commanding position thanks to their excellent work in Rome last time. They battled to a 2-0 win over Real Sociedad thanks to goals from Stephan El Shaarawy, who netted the opener on 13 minutes before Marash Kumbulla added a second minutes before the final whistle. They left it late to get their second, but it could be the goal that takes them through. A 1-0 lead is always dangerous, but a two-goal cushion gives them a chance.
Since beating Sociedad in the Europa League, Roma has played just once when losing at home to Sassuolo on Sunday. That was a game Roma was expected to win, and they did score three goals, but some woeful defending helped their opponents to a 4-3 victory. The final score suggests it was a tight affair, but Sassuolo was good value for the three points.
Real Sociedad v Roma prediction
Roma is two goals ahead on aggregate, meaning they can afford a narrow defeat and still go through. Their dreadful showing on Sunday, when they conceded four goals, will give fans reason to fear, while the Sociedad attack will arrive in a confident mood. If Sociedad starts well, they should have the class to score first and make things interesting.
Europa League odds
The pre-match betting odds available to all 22Bet members on this contest offers Real Sociedad at 2.07, while Roma can be backed to do the double at 3.82. If you’d prefer to have your stake on the draw, that’s 3.24 for a level finish on the night.
Make sure to bet on Real Sociedad v Roma with 22Bet!