UEFA Europa League - 2019/20 SeasonMatch press kits
|AS Roma||Stadio Olimpico - RomeThursday 20 February 2020|
21.00CET (21.00 local time) Round of 32, First leg
Roma's fourth appearance in the UEFA Europa League round of 32 brings them up against Gent, a team they put ten goals past when the clubs met in the qualifying phase of the competition's inaugural season.
• Roma qualified as Group J runners-up on nine points, one behind section winners İstanbul Başakşehirspor, against whom they managed their only wins, scoring seven goals and conceding none in the two matches against the Turkish side (4-0 h, 3-0 a). Gent, meanwhile, topped Group I with 12 points, finishing undefeated ahead of Wolfsburg, Saint-Étienne and debutants Olexandriya.
• The clubs' only previous European engagement, in the third qualifying round of the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League, was a one-sided affair, with Roma beating Gent 3-1 at home and 7-1 away. That second-leg result remains Roma's biggest European away win and Gent's joint heaviest European home defeat. The Belgian club have no other previous experience of Italian opposition.
• Roma lost their first two UEFA competition matches to Belgian opposition, 0-1 away and at home against Club Brugge in the third round of the 1975/76 UEFA Cup, but are unbeaten in the 12 games since then (W8 D4), six of them at home (W4 D2).
• Roma finished sixth in last season's Serie A, missing out on UEFA Champions League qualification for the first time in six years. They were defeated 4-3 on aggregate after extra time by Porto in the 2018/19 round of 16 having reached the previous season's semi-finals.
• The Giallorossi's third participation in the UEFA Europa League group stage, like the previous two, ended in qualification for the knockout phase, although unlike in 2009/10 and 2016/17 they did not top their group. Late goals were conceded in drawing at home and losing away to Borussia Mönchengladbach and they could only manage two draws against Wolfsberg, allowing the Austrian debutants to come from behind twice at the Stadio Olimpico on Matchday 6 when victory would have enabled them to finish ahead of İstanbul Başakşehir.
• The Rome club lost their first UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie, going out to Panathinaikos in 2009/10 (2-3 a, 2-3 h), but have won the other two, eliminating Feyenoord in 2014/15 (1-1 h, 2-1 a) and Villarreal in 2016/17 (4-0 a, 0-1 h).
• A 0-2 defeat against holders Real Madrid in last season's UEFA Champions League is the only one of their last 14 European fixtures in the Italian capital that Roma have lost, winning ten. In the UEFA Europa League knockout phase, however, their home record is W1 D1 L3 with no Stadio Olimpico victories in the round of 32.
• Fifth in the 2018/19 Belgian top flight, and also runners-up in the domestic cup, Gent qualified for Europe for the fifth successive season, extending the longest sequence in the club's history.
• Ousted in the qualifying phase of the UEFA Europa League in each of the past two seasons, they came through three ties to reach the group stage this term, defeating Viitorul, AEK Larnaca and Rijeka. A win and a draw against each of their Group I rivals saw them comfortably through to the knockout phase, the highlight a come-from-behind 3-1 victory at Wolfsburg on Matchday 4.
• Gent won their only previous UEFA Europa League round of 32 tie, in 2016/17, beating Tottenham Hotspur 1-0 at home and drawing 2-2 at Wembley before going out in the next round to fellow Belgian side Genk.
• Gent are unbeaten in six away matches in the UEFA Europa League proper (W2 D4), having failed to win any of their first five (D1 L4). Their only European defeat this term, home or away, came in the second leg of the second qualifying round, 1-2 at Viitorul, since when they have won five and drawn five of their ten fixtures.
UEFA Europa League squad changes
In: Mert Çetin, Carles Pérez (Barcelona, loan), Gonzalo Villar (Elche)
Out: Alessandro Florenzi (Valencia, loan), Juan Jesus, Nicolò Zaniolo, Davide Zappacosta
In: Bruno Godeau, Sulayman Marreh (Eupen), Anderson Niangbo (Salzburg)
Out: Dylan Bronn, Timothy Derijck (Kortrijk), Jean-Luc Dompé, Yuya Kubo (Cincinnati), Louis Verstraete
Links and trivia
• Gent midfielder Sven Kums played 29 Serie A games for Udinese in 2016/17. He faced Roma once, a 0-1 home defeat in which Edin Džeko scored the only goal.
• Gent were one of only two teams to come through this season's UEFA Europa League group stage unbeaten, together with Group K winners Braga.
• Paulo Fonseca was appointed as the Roma head coach on 11 June 2019. He arrived in the Eternal City having won the Ukrainian league and cup double in each of his three seasons with Shakhtar Donetsk, where he had replaced the long-serving Mircea Lucescu in 2016. A central defender of modest repute, he paid his dues as a coach in his native Portugal, first making his mark at Paços de Ferreira then joining Porto in 2013 before winning his first major trophy, the 2015/16 Portuguese Cup, with Braga.
• A tall striker who spent most of his playing career in his native Denmark with OB and Esbjerg but also had short spells in Germany, Austria and Norway, Jess Thorup has lately become one of his country's most upwardly mobile coaches. After a two-year stint in charge of the Danish Under-21 side he became Midtjylland's head coach in 2015 and steered the Jutland club to the Superliga title in 2017/18. That prompted interest from abroad and he was recruited in October 2018 by Gent, whom he guided to a runners-up spot in the Belgian Cup and a fifth-placed finish in the league in his first season.
UEFA Europa League knockout debut for VAR system
Video Assistant Referees (VAR) will be deployed in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. The decision was taken by the UEFA Executive Committee last September, following the introduction of the system in several UEFA competitions in the 2018/19 campaign.