Preview: Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen – Teams News, Lineups & Prediction

It’s crunch time in the 2023/24 Europa League as Roma and Bayer Leverkusen go head-to-head in the first leg of their mouth-watering semi-final tie at the Stadio Olimpico. Thursday’s revenge-poised clash in Rome is a repeat of last year’s semi-final, with Giallorossi hoping for the same outcome. 

In a true ‘Jose Mourinho style,’ Roma squeezed past Leverkusen 1-0 on aggregate last year, courtesy of a narrow first-leg triumph at home. Mourinho’s troops fell short of continental glory in the grand final, losing to serial winners Sevilla on penalties. It’s now up to Daniele De Rossi to take the Italians a step further as they brace themselves for a fourth consecutive appearance in major UEFA semi-finals. 

Standing between Roma and a third consecutive title-deciding contest on the continental front are newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Leverkusen. Aptly named ‘Neverlusen’ for their extraordinary results in 2023/24, the Germans have played down their previous tag as ‘Neverkusen’ with emphatic performances in all competitions. 

Match Preview


Roma defied the odds in the quarter-finals, winning both legs of an all-Serie A tie against fierce rivals Milan, including a 3-1 triumph on home soil. However, their last home outing was an unmitigated disaster, with fellow top-four rivals Bologna putting De Rossi’s troops to the sword in a stunning 3-1 victory. 

On a more positive note, Tammy Abraham’s first Serie A goal in over ten months saw Roma hold Napoli to a dramatic 2-2 draw at the weekend, bolstering their confidence ahead of this encounter.

Before Bologna’s abovementioned success at the Olimpico, Roma had won five consecutive home matches across all competitions despite their profligacy in front of goal. De Rossi’s men have netted precisely one goal in three of their last four games in the capital, highlighting the importance of keeping things tight at the back. 

Though they did shut Leverkusen out in both legs last season, fending off one of Europe’s most prolific teams is hardly a walk in the park. Roma can draw confidence from their near-flawless home record in the last two Europa League editions, having lost just one of their 13 matches at the Olimpico (W11, D1). 

Bayer Leverkusen

Visiting Leverkusen pulled off a similar comeback to Roma’s late heroics in Naples during their last-gasp home stalemate against Bundesliga top-four hopefuls Stuttgart last Saturday. Xabi Alonso’s side netted the 96th-minute equalizer to preserve their aura of invincibility, extending their jaw-dropping unbeaten run in all competitions to 46 matches (W38, D8) 

Fresh off being crowned the Bundesliga champions for the first time in the club’s history, Die Werkself now aim to complete a coveted treble. 

They’re potentially 180 minutes away from reaching a major European final for the first time since Zinedine Zidane’s iconic volley inspired Real Madrid to a 2-1 win in the 2001/02 Champions League showpiece. Plus, they’ll play second-tier Kaiserslautern in the DFB-Pokal title decider later in May. 

But first, Leverkusen must halt a five-game winless streak against Roma in European football to advance into May’s final in Dublin (D3, L2). Three consecutive scoring draws in the build-up to this trip can’t inspire much confidence. Neither can Leverkusen’s woeful run of just one clean sheet across their last ten European knockout games on the road. 

Team News

Romelu Lukaku suffered a muscle problem during Roma’s home win against Milan in the quarter-finals and won’t be able to help his side on Thursday. The same goes for Zeki Celik, who picked up a straight red in that match, meaning Rasmus Kristensen or Rick Karsdorp will return to the starting XI.

Sardar Azmoun started against Napoli, but he’ll probably be on the bench this time, with Abraham in pole position to lead the line. 

As for Leverkusen, winter arrival Borja Iglesias is unavailable due to an arm injury. Jonathan Tah took a knock against Stuttgart at the weekend and will have to undergo further checks before being allowed to play. Versatile forward Adam Hlozek is another doubt.

After being rested over the weekend, Florian Wurtz will assume the playmaking role behind ex-Roma striker Patrick Schick. 

Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen Potential Lineups

Roma (4-3-3): Mile Svilar; Rick Karsdorp, Gianluca Mancini, Evan Ndicka, Leonardo Spinazzola; Bryan Cristante, Leandro Paredes, Lorenzo Pellegrini; Paulo Dybala, Stephan El Shaarawy, Tammy Abraham.

Bayer Leverkusen (3-4-2-1): Lukas Hradecky; Edmond Tapsoba, Jonathan Tah, Piero Hincapie; Josip Stanisic, Granit Xhaka, Exequiel Palacios, Alejandro Grimaldo; Nathan Tella, Florian Wirtz; Patrick Schick.

Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen Prediction 

With each of Leverkusen’s eight goals in the Europa League knockouts this season coming beyond the 70th minute, Roma will have to stay focused until the final whistle. Lukaku’s absence is a blow, but De Rossi can take that as an excuse as he bids to become the first manager to beat Alonso in 2023/24.

But we believe a draw is the most likely scenario.

Prediction: Draw

Follow us on Google News for more updates on Serie A and Italian football

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *