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Roma vs Ajax: UEFA Europa League background, form guide, previous meetings

Roma are well placed to reach the last four of the UEFA Europa League after coming from behind to defeat Ajax 2-1 in Amsterdam.

Roma won the first leg 2-1
Roma won the first leg 2-1 Getty Images

Roma, who are carrying the Italian flag alone in the 2020/21 European quarter-finals, are well placed to reach the last four of the UEFA Europa League after coming from behind to defeat Ajax 2-1 in Amsterdam, securing their fifth win out of five in this season's knockout phase.

• Roma kicked off their European campaign in the UEFA Europa League group stage, registering 13 points as they topped Group A, three ahead of fellow qualifiers Young Boys. They then convincingly ousted two of coach Paulo Fonseca's former clubs, overcoming Braga in the round of 32 (3-0 a, 3-1 h) and Shakhtar Donetsk in the round of 16 (3-0 h, 2-1 a).

• Erik ten Hag's Ajax finished third in UEFA Champions League Group D during the autumn, behind Liverpool and Atalanta, before kicking off their record-breaking ninth appearance in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase by beating Ligue 1 high fliers LOSC Lille 2-1 twice in the round of 32. They did another double in the round of 16, over Swiss league leaders Young Boys (3-0 h, 2-0 a).

Highlights: Ajax 1-2 Roma (2 mins)
Highlights: Ajax 1-2 Roma (2 mins)

Previous meetings
• Ajax were 1-0 up at half-time in the Johan Cruijff ArenA, thanks to Davy Klaassen's 14th European goal, but Roma scored twice after the interval to turn the match on its head, Lorenzo Pellegrini's 57th-minute equaliser preceding a stunning late winner from Brazilian defender Roger Ibañez. The result ended Ajax's run of ten successive home wins in the UEFA Europa League proper, leaving them one short of Sevilla's competition record.

• Although both clubs have rich European histories, they have only been drawn together once previously, in the second group stage of the 2002/03 UEFA Champions League, when Ronald Koeman's Ajax won the home game 2-1 – with Zlatan Ibrahimović and Jari Litmanen the scorers – and drew the return 1-1 at the Stadio Olimpico to secure their progress to the quarter-finals as Fabio Capello's Roma went out.

• Roma had played only six UEFA games against Dutch opposition before this tie, winning two, drawing two and losing two. Their most recent encounters were against Feyenoord in the 2014/15 UEFA Europa League round of 32, when they drew the first leg 1-1 in Rome before a 2-1 win in Rotterdam. They have yet to lose to Dutch opponents in Rome (W1 D2).

• Ajax are undefeated on their last six visits to Italy (W3 D3), since a 1-0 defeat by Internazionale in the second leg of their 2005/06 UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie – a result that eliminated them 3-2 on aggregate.

• Ajax's 0-1 home defeat by Atalanta on Matchday 6 of this season's UEFA Champions League was their first loss against a Serie A side, home and away, in nine matches (W2 D6). Their all-time record against Italian clubs is now W13 D17 L18, with 51 goals scored and 52 conceded.

• In two-legged ties against Italian opposition Ajax's record is W6 L7, the most recent ending dramatically in their favour as they eliminated Juventus in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League quarter-final, winning 2-1 in Turin after a 1-1 home draw. They also defeated an Italian side, Torino, to win the two-legged 1991/92 UEFA Cup final on away goals (2-2 a, 0-0 h) and were 6-1 aggregate conquerors of AC Milan in the 1974 UEFA Super Cup (0-1 a, 6-0 h).

• Five of Ajax's six European Cup/UEFA Champions League finals have been against Italian clubs. They beat Internazionale in 1973 (2-0), Juventus in 1974 (1-0) and Milan in 1995 (1-0), but lost to Milan in 1969 (1-4) and Juventus in 1996 (1-1; 2-4 pens).

Great Roma Europa League goals
Great Roma Europa League goals

Form guide
Roma
• Roma finished fifth in Serie A last term to qualify for the UEFA Europa League group stage for the second season running and fourth time in all. Fonseca's side were defeated 2-0 by eventual winners Sevilla in last season's round of 16, which was the furthest the club had gone in the UEFA Europa League until this season – though they were UEFA Cup runners-up in 1990/91.

• The Giallorossi made it four qualifications from as many UEFA Europa League group stage participations this term, and a third as section winners. They secured this season's round of 32 place with two group games to spare, doing the double over both Young Boys (2-1 a, 3-1 h) and CFR Cluj (5-0 h, 2-0 a) but dropping points in both games against bottom-placed CSKA-Sofia (0-0 h, 1-3 a).

• The Rome club's handsome knockout phase victories over Braga and Shakhtar, in which Spanish striker Borja Mayoral hit four goals to become the UEFA Europa League's joint top scorer this season with seven in total, put them into the last eight of this competition for the first time. The Giallorossi had lost five European quarter-finals in a row before they memorably ended that sequence in the 2017/18 UEFA Champions League with a remarkable comeback against Barcelona (1-4 a, 3-0 h).

• A 0-2 defeat against holders Real Madrid in the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League group stage is the only one of their last 20 European fixtures in the Italian capital that Roma have lost, winning 15. Their only home defeats in the UEFA Europa League have all come in the spring, with their knockout phase record at the Stadio Olimpico standing at W4 D1 L3, the victories coming in the four most recent fixtures.

• Roma have a perfect record of 11 wins out of 11 in UEFA ties when they have been victorious away from home in the first leg, the most recent case that round of 32 success against Braga in February. They have won the first away leg 2-1 on two previous occasions, the second of them in the third round of the 2005/06 UEFA Cup, when they also beat Club Brugge 2-1 in the return fixture at the Stadio Olimpico.

Suárez, Milik, Jonk: Watch great Ajax goals
Suárez, Milik, Jonk: Watch great Ajax goals

Ajax
• Although no Dutch title was awarded in 2019/20, Ajax were leading the standings at the time of the Eredivisie stoppage in March and were entered directly into this season's UEFA Champions League group stage.

• The Amsterdam club's 16th participation in the UEFA Champions League group stage ran along similar lines to their 15th, a closing 0-1 home defeat, this time against Atalanta, sending the 2018/19 semi-finalists out of the competition and into the UEFA Europa League knockout phase. Defeated 1-0 by Liverpool home and away, Ajax did the double over Danish debutants Midtjylland (2-1 a, 3-1 h), their only other point coming from a 2-2 draw at Atalanta in which they surrendered a two-goal lead.

• The victories over LOSC and Young Boys have enabled Ajax to reach the UEFA Europa League quarter-finals for only the second time in nine knockout phase participations. They won their previous last-eight tie, in 2016/17, scoring twice in extra time of the second leg to knock out Schalke (2-0 h, 2-3 a) en route to the final, which they lost 2-0 to Manchester United.

• Ajax's away record in the UEFA Europa League knockout phase is W5 D2 L8. The victory at Young Boys was their first win on the road from the round of 16 onwards, the previous six such fixtures, including that 2017 final in Stockholm, having all ended in defeat.

• Ajax have won only three UEFA ties after a home defeat in the first leg, losing the other 12 contests. Those aggregate defeats include two in which the first game in Amsterdam finished 1-2, both against Italian club Juventus – in the 1996/97 UEFA Champions League semi-final (1-4 a) and the 2009/10 UEFA Europa League round of 32 (0-0 a). More recently, however, Ten Hag's side famously overturned that deficit to knock holders Real Madrid out of the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League in the round of 16, winning the return leg 4-1 in the Spanish capital.

Links and trivia
• Ajax goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg ended his first spell at the club with a move to Roma in 2011. He spent the next two seasons with the Giallorossi, making 55 appearances in all competitions.

• Roma's Dutch full-back Rick Karsdorp is a former Feyenoord player and national team-mate of Ajax duo Daley Blind and Klaassen.

• Blind, who made his debut for the Netherlands against Italy in a February 2013 friendly in Amsterdam, is a former Manchester United team-mate of Roma pair Chris Smalling (2014–18) and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (2016–18). All three played together for United in the 2017 UEFA Europa League final win against Ajax in Stockholm – though, like Stekelenburg and Karsdorp, none played in the first leg of this tie.

• Ajax assistant coaches Michael Reiziger (AC Milan 1996/97) and Christian Poulsen (Juventus 2008–10) both played in Serie A.

• Roma midfielder Pellegrini scored for Italy in a 1-1 UEFA Nations League draw at home to a Netherlands side featuring Blind on 14 October 2020.

• While Roma beat Bologna 1-0 at home on Sunday to stay seventh in Serie A, Ajax won 1-0 at RKC Waalwijk to remain 11 points clear of PSV Eindhoven at the top of the Eredivisie standings. It was the Amsterdam club's 12th league win in 13 games and their fifth in a row.

• Ajax's tenth participation in the UEFA Europa League, group stage to final, is a competition record that they share with Salzburg. The Dutch club have only featured in the group stage twice but have appeared in the knockout phase nine times, more than any other club.

• Ajax are one of two former European champions in this season's UEFA Europa League quarter-finals, alongside Manchester United. They are also the sole former UEFA Cup winners in the last eight, with United the only previous winners of the UEFA Europa League.

• The winners of this tie will face either Manchester United or Granada in the semi-final.

Penalty shoot-outs
• Roma's record in four UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L3:
4-2 v Norrköping, 1982/83 UEFA Cup second round
3-4 v Liverpool, 1983/84 European Champion Clubs' Cup final
3-4 v Real Zaragoza, 1986/87 European Cup Winners' Cup first round
6-7 v Arsenal, 2008/09 UEFA Champions League round of 16

• Ajax's record in six UEFA penalty shoot-outs is W1 L5:
3-5 v Levski Sofia, 1975/76 UEFA Cup third round
0-3 v Juventus, 1977/78 European Champion Clubs' Cup quarter-final
2-4 v Bohemians Praha, 1984/85 UEFA Cup second round
4-3 v Grêmio, 1995 European/South American Cup
2-4 v Juventus, 1995/96 UEFA Champions League final
2-4 v Steaua Bucureşti, 2012/13 UEFA Europa League round of 32