Roma vs Real Sociedad: UEFA Europa League Preview, Round of 16, 2023
Roma goes into Thursday's affair off the back of an impressive victory over Juventus. Gianluca Mancini's strike from outside of the box was enough to seal a 1-0 win.
This has moved the Giallorossi closer to the Champions League qualification that they so openly crave. Ever since Jose Mourinho arrived in the Italian capital, qualifying for Europe's elite competition and winning a trophy have been the two major aims.
One was achieved last campaign with their UEFA Europa Conference League triumph while the other could be accomplished in the coming months.
Along the way, Roma could also win a second European cup in as many years. Heading into the round of 16 stage, their next opponent comes in the shape of Real Sociedad.
Imanol Alguacil's side has hit a small bumper in what has been an extremely positive season for the club from San Sebastián. A defeat and a draw against lowly Valencia and Cadiz have seen their own Champions League hopes take a slight dent.
Their European form though has been impressive and although they were expected to qualify from their Europa League group, they overachieved by topping it.
Finishing above Manchester United, allowed the Spaniards to bypass the play-off round and focus purely on the round of 16. Alguacil will be hoping now he also can win his second trophy with his current club.
Two years ago, an emotional Alguacil celebrated their Copa Del Rey success by revealing a Real Sociedad shirt. Many onlookers enjoyed the euphoric moment especially as the 51-year-old is a boyhood Sociedad supporter.
The only absentee for Roma is Norwegian Ola Solbakken, who not only is injured but also wasn't able to be registered in their European squad.
Thursday's visitors are without two key players in Umar Sadiq and Aritz Elustondo.
Sadiq who arrived in the summer after two prolific seasons with Almeria, suffered an MCL injury in September, only a few weeks after joining the club. However, his recovery has been progressing well and is likely to return sooner than expected.
As for Elustondo, he has been out of action since the end of January, after injuring his ankle. There is a chance he will be back to play in the second leg for Sociedad.
Paulo Dybala has become the angel of the eternal city, a bond was formed between player and supporters on the day he arrived in Rome; with over 10,000 Roma fans present to greet the Argentine.
It has become stronger ever since, mainly due to his scintillating performances. Dybala is someone that most football fans will enjoy watching because of his elegance with the ball and the magical things he can do when in possession of it.
The 29-year-old is arguably the key to how far the Giallorossi can progress in this competition. Thursday's match at the Olimpico provides the perfect setting for Dybala to showcase his immense talent.
Mikel Oyarzabal has bounced back from a serious knee injury to lead his boyhood club on an upwards trajectory. Still only 25, the Spanish winger has become Sociedad's poster boy over the past few seasons.
Until this campaign, Oyarzabal has surpassed nine or more goals in the league despite not playing as a striker. With a growing reputation, there had been serious links to moves either abroad or to one of Spain's big three (Barcelona, Real Madrid or Atletico).
However, Oyarzabal injured his ACL in 2022 and missed nine months as a result. Now with that injury behind him, he can turn his focus to a successful second half of the campaign with Sociedad, starting on Thursday evening.
Where will the match be played?
The match will be played at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, Italy
What time is the match?
The match will kick-off at 5:45pm on Thursday, March 9, 2023
How can you watch the match?
In the United Kingdom, the match will be broadcast on BT Sport 4, and across their online and in-app channels.