Roma-Shakhtar: three keys to victory for the Italian side

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Roma’s Champions League lives are on the line this evening as they host Shakhtar Donetsk at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome.

The Giallorossi are down 2-1 on aggregate as they enter the second leg, although, their away goal could potentially prove pivotal. Roma, though, will certainly have to improve upon their first leg performance in Ukraine, where they let a 1-0 lead slip away in the second half. Here are three keys for the Giallorossi ahead of their clash against the Ukrainian side:

Score early

An obvious yet essential key for Eusebio Di Francesco’s side will be scoring a goal early in the fixture against the Ukrainians.

The Giallorossi have had major issues scoring goals since November, however, this problem has slowly started to dissipate over the last two weeks. Regardless, it wasn’t long ago that Roma found themselves laboring to score goals against the likes of Genoa, Chievo, and Cagliari – something they cannot afford to do against Paulo Fonseca’s men.

The longer Roma potentially go without bagging a goal, the more intense the pressure will get. It’s more than likely that Eusebio Di Francesco will deploy the same starting formation that hit Napoli for four goals at the San Paolo ten days ago, so the attacking prowess and ability is there – it is simply a matter of Roma replicating their recent attacking success.

Don’t force Alisson to play the role of hero

There’s no way around it: Roma’s Alisson has been the best goalkeeper in Serie A this season. Several times this campaign, the Brazilian has saved the Giallorossi’s skin thanks to his spectacular and heroic displays.

Between the league and Champions League, Roma have relied far too often on Alisson to help them overcome deficiencies in defence or rescue them from a blunder. Roma cannot afford the brain lapses they’ve had in defence in recent weeks to creep their way into the match against Shakhtar. Several of these errors have occurred simply due to laziness and failing to have the proper positioning, as Alessandro Florenzi and Aleksandar Kolarov have been the biggest culprits.

Roma simply cannot afford to be unbalanced against Shakhtar – give Alisson the proper cover while also maintaining steadfast in attack.

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Keep the same intensity for 90 minutes

Eusebio Di Francesco has echoed the same theme in his pre-match conferences for nearly an entire month: we need continuity in our performance.

Too often have the Giallorossi played very well with high intensity early in a match only to find themselves taking their foot off of the gas pedal in the latter stages, which ultimately costs them points. On paper, Roma are a stronger side than Shakhtar, however, the Ukrainians were the ones who played for all 90 minutes in the first leg, which is why they have a 2-1 lead on aggregate. With the supporters on their side, there’s no excuse for Roma to let-off and get lazy in the middle of the match – if they do, it’s simple: they will be eliminated.

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