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March 1, 2021

Champions League: AS Roma aiming to avoid slip-up in Cluj

Second-placed AS Roma visit on Wednesday night Group E’s basement club, CFR 1907 Cluj, requiring just a draw to sew up qualification for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League.

Claudio Ranieri’s team sit three points clear of FC Basel 1893 in second place in Group E after coming from two goals down to beat FC Bayern Munchen last time out, and know either a win or draw would sew up qualification. If they were to lose, however, Basel could overtake them by winning at a Bayern side already assured top spot, according to uefa.com.

For CFR, who parted company with coach Sorin Cartu, the only thing left to play for is pride after their defeat in Basel on Matchday 5 consigned them to fourth place.

CFR stunned the Stadio Olimpico by overcoming Roma 2-1 in their first ever outing in the UEFA Champions League in September 2008. Christian Panucci (17) put the hosts in front but Juan Culio’s double (27, 49) earned CFR the sole victory of their debut campaign. Roma gained revenge with a 3-1 win in Romania. Matteo Brighi (11) and Francesco Totti (23) struck early goals and although Yssouf Kone (30) halved the deficit, Brighi (64) made sure with his second of the night. CFR’s campaign thi season has followed the same course as in 2008/09. Just as then, they have been unable to build on a Matchday 1 victory, with their 2-1 loss at Roma the first of four successive reverses since beating Basel in mid-September. They are currently one point short of their final total from that first season among Europe’s elite.

Roma are looking to qualify for the UEFA Champions League’s latter stages for the fourth time in five seasons and go into the game seeking a third straight victory after winning 3-2 in Basel on Matchday 4, then beating Bayern by the same score. Roma coach Ranieri guided ACF Fiorentina to a 2-1 aggregate victory against ACF Gloria 1922 Bistrita in the 1996/97 UEFA Cup Winners’ Cup first round, winning the second leg in Italy 1-0.

In the 1998/99 UEFA Cup first round, he steered Valencia CF to home and away wins against Steaua, 4-3 in Romania and 3-0 in Spain. In his second spell at Valencia, Ranieri suffered UEFA Cup elimination at the hands of Steaua in 2004/05. Although Valencia, then holders, won the first leg of their round of 32 tie 2-0, they lost by the same score in Bucharest and went out 4-3 on penalties.

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