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Vučinić shoulders Roma burden

Published: Wednesday 11 March 2009, 7.38CET
The scorer of two goals against Chelsea FC in November, Mirko Vučinić has another London club in his sights as AS Roma tackle Arsenal FC needing a victory to keep their hopes of UEFA Champions League longevity alive.
by Richard Allen
from Roma
Vučinić shoulders Roma burden
Mirko Vučinić is happy to take responsibility for Roma ©Getty Images

Tournament statistics

RomaArsenal

Goals scored13
 
17
Attempts on target31
 
60
Attempts off target42
 
66
Corners29
 
77
Offsides30
 
47
Fouls committed127
 
178
Yellow cards16
 
20
Red cards0
 
0
 
Published: Wednesday 11 March 2009, 7.38CET

Vučinić shoulders Roma burden

The scorer of two goals against Chelsea FC in November, Mirko Vučinić has another London club in his sights as AS Roma tackle Arsenal FC needing a victory to keep their hopes of UEFA Champions League longevity alive.

Whenever the UEFA Champions League is mentioned, AS Roma striker Mirko Vučinić's eyes light up.

Relaxed mood
Montenegro's Player of the Year for the last three seasons, Vučinić has reserved some eye-catching displays for Europe's showpiece competition. With the Giallorossi trailing Arsenal FC 1-0 going into Wednesday's first knockout round second leg, and the squad hit by injury, the No9 may need to impress again if the capital club are to reach the quarter-finals for the third year running. "It's a very important game but we shouldn't think about it too much because it gives you a sore head," said Vučinić, a relaxed figure at the pre-match news conference. "We just really want to go out and get the result."

Finishing touch
Vučinić has been in superb form all term, adding the finishing touch to a game based on speed and skill. Roma's top scorer with nine Serie A goals, he has also struck three more in seven UEFA Champions League appearances. Two of them – one a brilliant solo effort – in November's 3-1 victory against Chelsea FC further propelled the 25-year-old into the limelight and increased expectations that he can deliver on the biggest stage.

Reliable
"It doesn't matter who scores – the most important thing is getting through," said Vučinić in time-honoured fashion. "Everything will depend on how the game goes. We could get the goal in the first or the last ten minutes." With captain Francesco Totti struggling to recover from a persistent knee injury, Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has come to rely on the former US Lecce forward to step up to the mark. Despite a back problem at the weekend, Vučinić rose from the substitutes' bench with Roma losing 1-0 to Udinese Calcio and within four minutes had slotted in the equaliser.

Rome final
The draw left Roma in fifth, one place outside the UEFA Champions League qualifying spots, but ambitions remain high in the Eternal City that Spalletti's side can get to the 27 May final on home soil. When asked whether he would prefer Roma to beat Arsenal and advance to the quarter-finals, or lose but gain a place in the top four of Serie A, Vučinić's reply demonstrated his positive thinking. "I'd prefer us to win the Champions League," he said. "That way we will definitely qualify for next season."

Last updated: 11/03/09 21.01CET

http://www.uefa.com/uefachampionsleague/season=2009/matches/round=15277/match=302795/prematch/focus/index.html#vucinic+shoulders+roma+burden

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