Arsenal have been drawn against Italian side AS Roma in the UEFA Champions League 1st knock out round, conquerers of Chelsea in the group stage.
The first leg will take place at Emirates Stadium on February 24 with the return leg at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome – the venue for this season’s Final – on March 11.
Roma famous for the strikerless formation, lie tenth place in Serie A and are making a mini revival after a poor start to the season. Their system sees Francesco Totti as their focal point in a 4-6-0 formation though against Chelsea played a diamond system at home. De Rossi has been
Roma coach Luciano Spalletti said of the draw:
“That does me just fine. There’s no point in talking about it now we must simply show what we’re made of and how we’re prepared to make sacrifices.
“To Arsenal I want to congratulate them for their system. They have many young players on their way to becoming great players who are being chased by all the big clubs in Europe.”
Arsene Wenger also spoke adirably of Roma:
“It is a 50/50 draw,” said the manager. “Roma are back to form now and maybe are the best team in Italy at the moment. So it will be interesting.
“We want to make a good draw of it, but it looks a well-balanced tie. Roma are a very balanced team with their play-maker Totti and around him they have players like De Rossi, Aquilani, Perrotta, Taddei and Julia Baptista, who we had here. They are all very technical players who are comfortable in a small space.
“They are a team where you want to defend very well. It would have been a bit the same to have drawn Barcelona, because they play the same type of football as Roma.
“There are some great ties with some great names and tradition. The fact so many big teams finished second in the group stage made that inevitable. The fact the Final will be in Rome means they have an incentive to fight in the second leg.”
Arsenal Column will provide match previews, analysis and tactical reports of all the Champions League matches.