Evening all! Sports Mole
's live Champions League
coverage continues from Rome as Roma welcome Barcelona for the second leg of their quarter-final. Barcelona ran out 4-1 winners in the first leg at Camp Nou last week, and are therefore the overwhelming favourites to finish the job in Rome tonight. Can Roma turn things around in front of their own supporters? Stay tuned right here to find out.
Roma actually played pretty well for long stages of the first leg, but two own goals saw them fall 2-0 behind, before Gerard Pique made it 3-0 just before the hour. Edin Dzeko
had one back for the visitors in the 80th minute, but Luis Suarez's late strike has seemingly put the tie beyond the home side tonight.
Roma did beat Barcelona 3-0 on home soil during the second group stage of the 2001-02 Champions League, however, and that result here would see them progress to the semi-finals. It is very difficult to imagine Barcelona not scoring, but a couple of early goals for Roma and anything could happen.
Right, without further ado, let me bring you up-to-speed with the all-important team news from this Champions League match. Both teams were in league action at the weekend – Roma losing 2-0 at home to Fiorentina while Barcelona beat Leganes 3-1. Any changes? *Spoiler* Lionel Messi plays...
ROMA: Alisson; Jesus, Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov; Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman; Florenzi, Dzeko, Schick
BARCELONA: Ter Stegen; Semedo, Pique, Umtiti, Alba; Roberto, Busquets, Rakitic, Iniesta; Messi, Suarez
Radja Nainggolan missed the first leg last week through injury, but the Belgium international starts for Roma tonight – replacing Lorenzo Pellegrini in the middle of the park. There is also a change further forward as Patrik Schick comes in for the injured Diego Perotti, while Juan Jesus starts at the back as Bruno Peres drops out. Edin Dzeko, who scored in the first leg, again leads the line for the Italian giants.
Barcelona boss Ernesto Valverde has selected the same XI that started the first leg. It will once again be a 4-4-2 formation for the Catalan outfit, with Sergi Roberto and Andres Iniesta operating in the wide midfield areas. Nelson Semedo is in at right-back, with the likes of Paulinho, Ousmane Dembele and Andre Gomes on the bench. Sergio Busquets, meanwhile, passes a late fitness test to start.
So there we have it. The two teams are in, and we are now just about 35 minutes from kickoff in Rome. I shall speak about the home side a little bit later, but let's start with Barcelona. As mentioned, the Spanish giants will enter this match off the back of a 3-1 home win over Leganes in La Liga at the weekend, and they currently sit 11 points clear of second-placed Atletico Madrid at the top of the table.
It has been a remarkable season for Barcelona when considering that they are yet to lose in the league. Valverde's side will reclaim the Spanish title, and will face Sevilla in Copa del Rey final as they look to claim a domestic double. The addition of the Champions League would make it a famous treble.
Barcelona eased through the group stages of the competition – finishing ahead of Juventus at the top of Group D to make the round of 16, where they were drawn against Chelsea. A 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge left the tie delicately poised ahead of the second leg at Camp Nou, but Barcelona were far too strong for the English champions as a 3-0 success saw them make the last eight.
Barcelona have won 14 of their previous 19 European Cup quarter-finals, but three of those defeats have come in their last four ties. Indeed, they lost to Juventus in last season's last eight, and were beaten by La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid at the same stage of the 2015-16 competition.
Barcelona actually lost 3-0 away to Juventus in last season's quarter-finals, and have been victorious in just five of their last 15 away matches in the Champions League. That said, the Spanish giants have been victorious in 38 of the 41 UEFA competition matches where they won the first leg at home, which is some record to bring into tonight's clash in Rome. Kickoff in this wonderful stadium is fast approaching!
As for Roma, Eusebio Di Francesco's team will enter this match off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Fiorentina on Saturday, which was a result that left them in fourth spot in Serie A - 21 points off the leaders Juventus. This is their first appearance in the quarter-finals of the Champions League since the 2007-08 campaign, when they lost 3-0 on aggregate to Manchester United.
Roma have never won the Champions League, but they were strong in the group stages – finishing above Chelsea at the top of Group C. Atletico Madrid actually finished third in that particular group, and there is no question that Roma deserve credit for what they have achieved in this season's competition. The round of 16 paired the Italian club with Shakhtar Donetsk, and they lost the first leg 2-1 in Ukraine before recording a 1-0 victory on home soil. Can Roma turn things around tonight?
Roma have actually won just four of their last 11 home matches in the Champions League, and they have never managed to overturn a three-goal first-leg deficit in European competition. It is some ask for the Italian giants to move past Barcelona when considering what happened in the first leg last week.
KICKOFF! Barcelona kick things off in Rome...
... it must be said that there is a wonderful atmosphere inside the stadium tonight, and Roma will need their supporters if they are to turn things around in this tie. Roma are in their home red kit this evening, with Barcelona in their light blue away strip. Let's hope for an entertaining game of football.
Quite a low-key first four minutes to this match as Barcelona enjoy possession of the ball. Low-key cannot be used to describe what has happened at Manchester City, however, with the home side scoring early though Gabriel Jesus to cut the aggregate score to 3-1. Game on in that tie.
SAVE! Big chance for Barcelona to make the breakthrough as Roberto breaks into the Roma box, but the midfielder fires straight at Allison. Messi then fires over the crossbar moments later.
GOAL! Roma 1-0 Barcelona (Dzeko)
Now then! Roma take the lead in the second leg as Dzeko pokes past Ter Stegen from close range following a long ball from De Rossi. Super pass, and a really smart finish from the centre-forward!
It is a really open game at the moment as both teams continue to enjoy possession of the ball. I would be astounded if we had seen the last of the goals. Barcelona have just won a free kick in a dangerous area with Messi going down under a challenge from Jesus. Can the away side take advantage? Let's see...
... Messi's free kick was always too high.
Nainggolan does well in a wide position before delivering into the Barcelona box, but Busquets is on hand to make the clearance. Roma are the team on the front foot with 12 minutes on the clock here.
It has been raining on and off in Rome all day, and that has made the surface nice and fast. That should suit Barcelona, but it is Roma playing the football at the moment as they continue to probe.
CLOSE! Schick rises highest inside the Barcelona box to meet a corner from the right, and the forward's header just drops wide of the far post. Really good stuff from the home side.
Barcelona continue to play out from the back, and that seems dangerous against a Roma team that are very much on the front foot. A second for the home side at this stage would be very interesting indeed.
Nainggolan tries his luck from outside the Barcelona box, but the midfielder's effort was always wide of the post. The away side are struggling to get out at the moment as the pressure continues.
Roma do appear to have given themselves too much to do tonight, which is a shame when considering how well they have started. Even a 3-1 defeat last week would have given them a serious chance, but that late Suarez effort for 4-1 was a killer. As it stands, the Italian side trail 4-2 on aggregate.
Roma continue to work the ball into the final third of the field, with Florenzi joining Schick and Dzeko in forward positions. Barcelona are being forced to sit in and defend their own box at the moment.
Former Manchester United boss Sir Alex Ferguson is here watching tonight, and there is no question that the Scot will have appreciated what Roma have served up in the first 24 minutes. Barcelona had that early chance through Roberto, but have not been able to threaten since. Still 1-0 Roma on the night.
Roma are winning the midfield battle at the moment as Strootman bursts through Iniesta and Busquets. Moments later, Dzeko strikes from distance, but his effort was always too high.
Kolarov is the latest player to drive into the Barcelona box, but Pique is across to make the challenge. Barcelona just cannot seem to get going at the moment as the pressure from the home side continues.
It is very difficult to imagine Barcelona not scoring tonight, which means that Roma could well need another three just to draw level on aggregate. I would be astounded if we had seen the last of the goals, especially with the visitors just starting to show something in the final third of the field.
CHANCE! Huge chance for Roma as Fazio picks out the head of Schick with a super cross, but the forward flicks the ball wide of the post! He just had to score from there!
Another half-chance for the home side as a strike from Nainggolan falls for Schick inside the Barcelona box, but Umtiti does well to make a last-ditch challenge. Still all Roma here.
Little over 10 minutes of the first period remaining, and Barcelona still lead 4-2 on aggregate.
Barcelona are still struggling to get out of their own half as Roma continue to pass and probe in the final third of the field. I am not sure if Luis Suarez has touched the ball since the early moments here.
Barcelona are just not using the ball at all well, with Iniesta and Messi even conceding possession, which is when you know something is not quite right. Roma really need that second before the interval, and they have certainly had the chances to score it, with Dzeko just testing Ter Stegen with a header.
Dzeko also heads over from the resulting corner as chances continue to arrive for the home side.
BOOKING! Fazio (Roma) is booked for a heavy challenge on Suarez.
After what seems like five years, Messi takes a free kick from outside the Roma box, but his effort was always too high. Fazio needs to be a touch careful as he continues to argue while on a yellow card.
Dzeko is causing Barcelona so many problems, with the striker using his body well. He is also running away from Umtiti and Pique, which is a concern for Valverde. Still 1-0 to the home side on the night.
BOOKING! Jesus (Roma) is booked for a poor tackle on Messi.
HALF-TIME: Roma 1-0 Barcelona
So there we have it. The referee brings the first period to a close with Roma leading Barcelona 1-0 on the night courtesy of an early goal from Dzeko. The home side have had a number of chances to add to the scoring, and Barcelona are extremely fortunate to still be 4-2 ahead on aggregate.
STATISTICS! Barcelona actually shaded the first-half possession with 55%, but they only managed one attempt on target in the first period, which came extremely early when Alisson denied Roberto. Roma, meanwhile, hit the target with two of their eight attempts, and they have been absolutely superb here.
BENCH WATCH! Barcelona have a lot of talent on their bench tonight, with Paulinho, Dembele, Andre Gomes, Alcacer and Denis Suarez all in reserve. As for Roma, Di Francesco has options in the shape of El Shaaraway, Gonalons, Pellegrini and Under. Plenty of talent in reserve here, that is for sure.
RESTART! Roma resume the action on home soil...
... no changes from either side at the break, which is not too much of a surprise. However, I suspect that both managers will have alterations in mind as the second period gathers pace here.
Just a reminder that Roma need another two goals to take the lead in this tie. Barcelona have not started this half much better as they continue to struggle in the final third of the field.
Not too much to report in the early stages of the second period, with Roma keeping the ball without really threatening to register a second. Ter Stegen has come and struggled to collect a couple of crosses in the last couple of minutes, however, and that will be a concern for Barcelona boss Valverde.
Roma are the team pressing forward as the second period starts to gather pace, but Barcelona are not overly uncomfortable as they sit deep and soak up the pressure. Not too much to report in the second period.
Quite a scrappy period of the match as the referee is forced to intervene following a couple of late challenges. Barcelona are just managing the game at the moment with 55 minutes on the clock.
Schick goes down inside the Barcelona box under a challenge from Umtiti, but the referee is not interested. Dzeko then breaks through and goes down, but the referee does not give it once again.
The referee has given it! Dzeko went down under a challenge from Pique, and the referee gives it!
GOAL! Roma 2-0 Barcelona (De Rossi, pen)
De Rossi sends his penalty into the bottom corner for 2-0 Roma.
Barcelona are in a lot of trouble at the moment. One more for Roma and it would be the Italian side progressing into the semi-finals of the competition. Barcelona have just not been at the races here.
Luis Suarez has just had a go at the referee after handling the ball, and that just about sums up Barcelona's night. We are entering the stage of the match where Valverde will be considering changes.
BOOKING! Messi (Barcelona) is booked for stopping a counter-attack.
Barcelona just cannot keep the ball. The away team have been so poor in possession here.
Strootman fires high and wide with an effort from outside the Barcelona box.
SAVE! Ter Stegen is down to keep out a low strike from Nainggolan!
CLOSE! De Rossi heads just wide of the Barcelona post as the Italian giants come close once again. Surely the third goal is coming for Roma with still more than 20 minutes to play here.
Valverde needs to change something, but the Barcelona bench is unmoved. Another long ball escapes Messi and Roma can resume from their goalkeeper. Roma need one more goal to send Barcelona out.
ROMA SUB! Under replaces Schick for the home side.
Alisson easily keeps out a strike from Messi as the Argentine looks to make something happen in the final third of the field. Still more than 15 minutes of football remaining, with Roma needing one goal.
Under curls one over the Barcelona crossbar as the match starts to open up. I suspect that we could be in for a very interesting final 10 minutes or so. Messi has been very off-colour for the visitors.
ROMA SUB! El Shaarawy replaces Nainggolan for the home side.
SAVE! Super save from Ter Stegen to keep out a close-range effort from Kolarov!
BARCELONA SUB! Andre Gomes replaces Iniesta for the away side.
Ter Stegen gathers an effort from Under as Roma continue to force the issue.
GOAL! Roma 3-0 Barcelona (Manolas)
Oh my goodness! Incredible scenes! Roma lead 3-0 on the night and indeed lead on away goals as Manolas finds the bottom corner with a super header from a corner. Wonderful header!
Little over five minutes for Barcelona to find a response in this match!
BARCELONA SUBS! Dembele and Alcacer replace Busquets and Semedo.
Dembele has a cross cleared over the Roma crossbar as Barcelona look to hit back here.
Messi has another low cross cleared by Manolas as the pressure continues here.
Suarez has a shot blocked once again as Roma scramble for their lives at the back.
We are into the first minute of four additional minutes here!
CLOSE! Dembele has just missed from distance after Alisson came out to challenge Pique!
Time is almost up, and Roma have the ball!
FULL-TIME: Roma 3-0 Barcelona
ROMA MAKE THE SEMI-FINALS OF THE CHAMPIONS LEAGUE ON AWAY GOALS!
Incredible scenes, just incredible. Roma book their spot in the semi-finals of the Champions League courtesy of a 3-0 win over Barcelona in the second leg of their quarter-final. The stadium is in absolute ecstasy. What a night! Thanks for joining Sports Mole once again. Until next time!