AS Roma may have a demanding derby with S.S. Lazio on Sunday but Claudio Ranieri will not be making any allowances for his side as they meet FC Basel 1893 with Group E still there for the taking.
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AS Roma may have a demanding derby with S.S. Lazio on Sunday but Claudio Ranieri will not be making any allowances for his side as they prepare to meet FC Basel 1893 with Group E still wide open.
With two matchdays remaining, four points separate the top three teams with Basel leading the way on nine points, Roma two points adrift and Fulham FC on five. A win at the Stadio Olimpico would take Roma through to the round of 32 regardless of how Fulham get on at home to PFC CSKA Sofia in the night's other match as Basel host the English side in their final fixture. While there is a prize at stake for victory, Ranieri also cautioned against the price of defeat. "We want to go through and we know if we lose we would almost be eliminated," he said. "We can't underestimate this match; Basel are a great team and they have already beaten us. They deserved that victory, but now we need to win if we want to reach the next round. I don't want my players to concede this time; that has been a problem for us this season."
Basel beat Roma 2-0 at St. Jakob-Park on Matchday 1 yet Ranieri believes his side have changed a lot since then. "I had just arrived," said the 58-year-old, who replaced Luciano Spalletti in September. "That was not the real Roma – I hope Basel see it this time. We're doing well, but I've told my players I'm not satisfied yet. We have to keep on doing good things and taking care of every small detail." Roma are undefeated in five games, but Ranieri faces some difficult decisions as he looks to extend that run. Daniele De Rossi is doubtful as he recovers from a kidney infection and fractured cheekbone and the coach may also elect to leave out captain Francesco Totti and defender Juan.
Basel coach Thorsten Fink is not about to give Roma an easy ride, regardless of who they field. "We respect Roma, but we do not fear them," he said. "The Giallorossi are clear favourites to win the group, but we are the leaders and we'll do our best to stay on top. Roma are much more better now than they were in the first match we played, but we want to make the most of our chances. We believe we can qualify."