Lacklustre Roma seek comeback in Champions League showdown

Rome, Dec 8, (GNA/dpa) – Roma appear well-placed but must overcome a recent slide if they want to reach the last 16 in the Champions League over rivals BATE Borisov and Bayer Leverkusen.

Barcelona have already qualified from Group E as winners ahead of their visit to Leverkusen on the last match day.

Roma host BATE and are level on five points with Leverkusen. They have won the head to head against the Germans but can’t afford defeat because BATE are also still alive on four points.

The Rome Giallorossi are however not at their best as they tackle the Belarus squad who secured their 12th domestic title in early November and hope to progress in the elite tournament or get into the lower-grade Europa League as third placed.

Roma have been unable to recover since Barcelona sent them back home with a 6-1 drubbing on November 24.

A 2-0 home defeat against Atalanta and a dull 1-1 at Torino have followed in the Serie A as Roma have slipped to fourth, five points behind leaders Inter Milan.

“I am rather upset. I am not happy, but things will get better,” Roma president James Pallotta said on his arrival Saturday from the United States.

Pallotta reportedly has held meeting with his staff and apparently confirmed his confidence in coach Rudi Garcia, now in his third season at the club.

“If Garcia sinks, we all follow him. People should give up any idea about him,” Sporting Director Walter Sabatini was quoted as saying.

Like president Pallotta, midfielder Radja Nainggolan looks ahead to the team’s recovery.

“I think the good times will return,” the Belgian international said. “We have belief in the squad. We’re a strong group and we’re just waiting to get back to winning ways.

“We have a Champions League match to prepare for on Wednesday, which will be tough, just as Saturday’s game at Torino was. We have to approach it with the same desire and determination. We know we have to win to go through, so we’ll knuckle down and try to secure the points against BATE.

“There are parts of our game that aren’t coming off as much as they were earlier in the season, but for now we’re just looking to find the right balance.”

Unfortunately for Roma, not much support is expected from die-hard Giallorossi fans, who since the start of the season have stayed away from the Stadio Olimpico in protest of new safety rules that limit access to the stands.

To confirm the bad relationship, a group of fans unloaded several kilos of carrots outside the squad camp in Trigoria camp after the Atalanta defeat, holding a banner saying “Enjoy, rabbits!”

Their moodiness, however, is well known, and optimism could be back Wednesday, boosting the team’s morale ahead of Sunday’s important match at third-placed Napoli.