The lowdown on AS Roma

De Rossi getting the best out of his team after replacing Jose Mourinho.

By Richie Mills • 07 March 2024

By AS Roma
Roma and Argentina forward Paulo Dybala.

Roma are "riding a wave" under new boss Daniele De Rossi and Albion can expect a really difficult Europa League night at a raucous Stadio Olimpico.

That is according to Italian football expert, Richard Hall, who says the Roma legend is getting the best out of his players after seven wins from his opening nine games since replacing Jose Mourinho as manager in January.

And with the likes of striker Romelu Lukaku, attacking midfielder Paulo Dybala, and winger Stephan El Shaarawy among their attacking talent, Albion will need to be at their defensive best to keep the Serie A side quiet in the first leg of their last 16 tie on Thursday.

By AS Roma
Daniele De Rossi is expecting Albion to face an intense atmosphere in Rome tonight.

"With Mourinho's Roma, consistency was a problem," Hall said. "Sometimes their matches really opened up and they were fantastic to watch - despite what critics in the UK may believe. But in big matches, such as against Inter Milan, he would try to shut it down. De Rossi's Roma now plays with more freedom.

"So far, the results speak for themselves; he's Roman, everybody loves him, he knows the club's structure - he's a hero there. The more cynical in Italy are looking at his tactics and believe he is riding a wave at present.

"Players-wise, Paulo Dybala is one to watch for Brighton. He's been one of these individuals who has perhaps not quite lived up to expectations but when he's on fire, as was the case in his hat-trick against Torino last week, he's incredible. El Shaarawy and Lukaku are ones to be wary of but Dybala is the big threat."

By AS Roma
Stephan El Shaarawy.

Since the arrival of De Rossi, whose only other managerial role was at SPAL in Serie B between October 2022 and February 2023, Roma's style of play has noticeably changed.

Under Mourinho, they liked to sit back, invite pressure, and often counter-attack, but De Rossi's side press teams more and push further up the pitch. Although their strengths lie in being clinical in front of goal - showcased by scoring 52 league goals against an expected goals tally of 42 - they are now more open to attacks on the wings, and their high line can play them into trouble.

"De Rossi has switched between four at the back, as part of a 4-3-3, and a 3-5-2, and the midfield and front players are playing a bit higher up the pitch. They also play with a higher line and that can leave them a bit vulnerable at the back," said Hall.

By AS Roma
Mile Svilar has been Roma's goalkeeper in all of their Europa League matches so far this campaign.

"The jury is still out on goalkeeper Rui Patricio and without Gianluca Mancini in defence, they are fallible there, despite still being strong at set pieces. Left-back Leonardo Spinazzola also gives so much to this team. He's had a fantastic season, brings a lot of creativity, and is very consistent.

"De Rossi has also rotated a lot of players, using virtually every member of the squad. Some of the Italian press believe he's winning on a cult of personality but he has looked tactically astute."

Roma made it to the final of the Europa League last season, losing to Sevilla on penalties, and they won the Europa Conference League in 2021/22 under former manager Mourinho. So Albion can expect a big European test on Thursday.

"While Mourinho upped the expectation there was a lot of dissent within the Roma squad; although the fanbase obviously loved him. The expectations are a little less under De Rossi but just one loss so far (to runaway league leaders Inter) is very impressive," added Hall.

 "What is interesting about Roma under De Rossi is that there isn't one player who is always delivering the goods for them - it's a team effort. Roberto De Zerbi's reputation has certainly elevated since leaving Italy and working at Brighton but this will be a big test for him and his team. The atmosphere at the Olimpico will be fierce and it could be a really, really difficult night for Brighton in Rome."