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Football does not always offer second chances. Missed opportunities are played over and over again in the mind's eye like a recurrent nightmare or, worse still, replayed on unforgiving television programmes. For AS Roma forward Mauro Esposito, there is at least the chance of redemption against Manchester United FC.
Esposito has had a difficult start to his Roma career since signing in the summer from Cagliari Calcio. The 28-year-old has made just four Serie A appearances for the Giallorossi and three in the UEFA Champions League. Esposito, though, is confident he can get himself back on track by making amends for his miss at Old Trafford on Matchday 2. On as an 80th-minute substitute for Ludovic Giuly, Esposito was presented with a glorious opening to score a late equaliser, only to miss the target with just goalkeeper Tomasz Kuszczak to beat.
"I missed a very good chance against United in our last match against them and that could have been an important goal for us – and for me personally," he admitted. "We were 1-0 down at the time and a goal then could have made all the difference. But I've put that behind me and tried to play my best whenever I've been selected. Hopefully, if I play, I can make amends for that miss."
Esposito suffered a cruciate ligament injury at Cagliari last term, and Roma fans are yet to see the best of him as he continues to work his way back to optimum fitness. "I've had a few injury problems but the more games I play, the better I get. I'm slightly short of match fitness and my sprinting has suffered a little from the injury. I'm not quite as fast as I was last year yet, but I'm settled here and I love the way Roma play the game."
A win against the English champions would also go a long way towards laying the ghost of the 7-1 thrashing the Giallorossi endured in the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals last April. "I wasn't here last season when Roma lost 7-1 but I watched it on television and was disappointed. I am Italian and I like to see Italian sides do well in Europe, so the score was particularly disappointing."
Esposito is now intent on casting aside personal and collective demons on the highest stage in club football. "Playing in the Champions League means a hell of a lot to a player. I'm grateful to have had the chance to play in it this year and we're all looking to go as far as possible. Manchester United are a great side, they are unquestionably one of the best teams in the world, so to get the chance to pit your wits against them is a huge motivation."
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