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Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen betting tips: Europa League semi-final first leg preview, predictions, team news and odds

Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen odds and betting statistcs

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Roma vs Bayer Leverkusen match preview

Roma waited 61 years for European silverware, but are now on the cusp of going back-to-back.

12 months ago, I Giallorossi beat Feyenoord in the inaugural Europa Conference League Final, adding to the Inter-Cities Fairs Cup the club won in 1961.

Led by manager José Mourinho, who’s a two-time Europa League winning coach, Roma supporters believe their team will be celebrating success once again.

So far in the knockout phase, la Lupa have overcome RB Salzburg, Real Sociedad and then Feyenoord again, the latter a dramatic extra time victory.

Paulo Dybala equalised in the 89th minute, thereby forcing extra time, before goals from Stephan El Shaarawy and Lorenzo Pellegrini completed the remontada and saw Roma advance.

Domestically, I Giallorossi have lost form at just the wrong time, with Saturday’s 2-0 defeat against Inter making it four Serie A games without a win.

While this’ll be Mourinho’s 1,099th game in management, his opposite number Xabi Alonso has taken charge of just 33 senior matches, arriving at Bayer Leverkusen as recently as October.

During this period, die Werkself have moved from second bottom up to sixth in the Bundesliga, unbeaten in 15 matches prior to Friday night’s 2-1 defeat against local rivals Köln.

So, with three games remaining, die Schwarzroten aren’t going to finish any higher than sixth, so too need to win this trophy to sneak back into the Champions League.

Unlike Roma, Bayer have previously won this competition, coming from 3-0 down to beat Espanyol on penalties in the UEFA Cup Final of 1988.

This season, having ousted Monaco on penalties, Ferencváros and Royale Union Saint-Gilloise, they’ve reached a first European semi-final since being Champions League runners-up 21 years ago.

Leverkusen have won all three away matches in the knockout phase but, here, Roma need to make home advantage count at a sold-out Stadio Olimpico.

Roma team news

Roma’s recent downturn in form is largely due to their increasing injury list.

Defenders Chris Smalling, known affectionately as Smalldini these days, Marash Kumbulla, Diego Llorente and Rick Karsdorp have all been injured.

Smalling and Llorente were on the bench at the weekend, but neither are expected to start here.

Star attackers Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham both came off the bench at the weekend and, despite recent injury issues of their own, will both be in the XI.

Predicted XI (3-5-2): Patrício; Cristante, Ibañez, Mancini; Zalewski, Matić, Pellegrini, Wijnaldum, Spinazzola; Dybala, Abraham.

Bayer Leverkusen team news

With Patrik Schick out long-term, Adam Hložek will continue to lead the line, supported by Moussa Diaby, who took his tally to 14 for the season in Brussels last time out in Europe.

Right-wing-back Jeremie Frimpong has also been on fire this season, scoring nine goals and providing ten assists.

Chelsea loanee Callum Hudson-Odoi hasn’t featured since since a seven minute cameo at Schalke on 1 April due to injury.

Predicted XI (3-4-3): Hradecky; Tah, Tapsoba, Hincapié; Frimpong, Amiri, Andrich, Bakker; Diaby, Wirtz, Hložek.

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Ben Gray

Arsenal fan – follow them over land and sea (and Leicester); sofa Celtic supporter; a bit of a football '"encyclopedia".

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