As the race for Champions League spots tightens in Serie A, it’s only going to become more important for A.S. Roma to make a real push for the Europa League title. Winning the Europa League will garner the Giallorossi a guaranteed spot in the Champions League for next season, and if Paulo Fonseca’s men continue to advance towards the final in Poland, it might take a bit of the pressure off every single match they play in Serie A. Roma vs. Braga: February 25th. CET/3:00 EST.
Now, no one is suggesting Roma will breeze past Braga next week into the Round of 16, but that two-goal advantage gives Paulo Fonseca a tremendous amount of leeway when they host the Portuguese side next week. Yesterday wasn't exactly the apex of Fonseca Football®, but the ease with which Roma picked apart the Braga defense and how easily they were able to predict the Archbishops counter-moves left little doubt as to which side was more prepared yesterday.
I wish Italian clubs treated the Europa League with more respect, but they very rarely do. The tournament is often reduced to a way to give your younger players some minutes, while winning the actual tournament is left to clubs who actually care, like Sevilla. It doesn’t help that the Europa League is relegated to CBS All Access/Paramount+ in the United States, where I watch; I can guarantee you that I’ll be scrounging around for a password to the service with hours to go until kickoff.