Arne Slot’s Feyenoord have the chance to wreak revenge on Roma, their opponents from the inaugural UEFA Europa Conference League (UECL) final last season, in this great quarterfinal matchup of the UEFA Europa League (UEL). Feyenoord went on to win their UEL group in the autumn after that 1-0 loss before cruising to an eight-point lead in the Eredivisie title race.
With their spectacular 7-1 victory over Shakhtar here in Rotterdam (G21), which was part of a remarkable six-game streak of competitive home games in which they had scored 20 goals, the Dutch team topped the UEL scoring statistics for the season (W5, L1). This fantastic Feyenoord team also has no need to fear its Italian opponents, having won every previous head-to-head matchup on Dutch territory with such teams, save for one (W4, D3, L1).
The highly decorated manager of Roma, José Mourinho, might be the one to break that illustrious home record. While he labeled the UEL this season “a challenging one” in the lead-up, his team has already defeated Real Sociedad and RB Salzburg, two strong teams. Roma should come here with confidence after two straight Serie A victories without a response to support their claims of qualifying for the Champions League.
Roma’s ability to gain a foothold in this match is by no means certain, though, as they have failed to score on their previous two European road trips after doing so on each of the 24 prior ones. Also, they were defeated 2-1 by Bod/Glimt in the first leg of the UECL quarterfinal last year. But, an eight-game winning streak against Eredivisie opponents may allay some of those worries (W4, D4).
Santiago Giménez of Feyenoord has five goals so far, three of which came against Lazio, Roma’s local rivals, and is only one goal away from the UEL’s top scorer slot! Roma’s Paulo Dybala, who has converted penalties in each of their past two games, will be ready to seize on any errors made by Feyenoord.
Arne Slot, who will start Netherlands full-back Lutsharel Geertruida on Thursday night, had a mixed weekend. The 22-year-old recently made a full recovery from a hamstring injury he sustained while making his international debut last month against France, and he then played in the victory over RKC.
Although Alireza Jahanbakhsh had to leave the warm-up, he ought to be available against Roma. Igor Paixao, a Brazilian winger, filled in for the injured player and scored again, giving him a chance to preserve his spot after scoring twice in two league games.
Feyenoord’s much-admired captain Orkun Kokcu will control the midfield, but their backup goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther will serve as their last line of defense because their starter Justin Bijlow recently made a full recovery from a wrist injury. The sole injured member of the home team is Quentin Timber.
In contrast to Kokcu, former Feyenoord star Georginio Wijnaldum is expected to feature in Roma’s midfield, but another well-known De Kuip player, Rick Karsdorp, was just given a few weeks to recover from an injury.
Ola Solbakken unexpectedly started up front against Torino ahead of both Tammy Abraham and Andrea Belotti, but was forced to leave the game with a dislocated shoulder.
Paulo Dybala and captain Lorenzo Pellegrini will join Abraham at the front of the queue if he can recover from the illness that prevented him from traveling to Turin on Saturday.
Feyenoord possible starting lineup
Wellenreuther, Geertruida, Trauner, Hancko, Hartman; Wieffer, Szymanski, Kokcu; Jahanbakhsh, Gimenez, Idrissi.
AS Roma possible starting lineup
Patricio, Mancini, Smalling, Llorente, Zalewski, Cristante, Wijnaldum, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, Dybala, and Abraham.
We predict: Feyenoord 2-1 AS Roma
Feyenoord can undoubtedly score at least once in front of their home supporters after scoring 21 goals in their previous six games, taking advantage of Roma’s weaknesses outside of the Italian city. This might give the Rotterdam team a slight lead going into the second leg the following week.