The Europa League field has been narrowed down and as the Round of 16 kicks off on Thursday, all eyes will be on the meeting between Fiorentina and Roma. The Italian powerhouses will meet in Florence for the 1st leg and with a berth in the Quarter Finals and pride at stake, it'll be worth the watch for both sets of fans and the neutral.
La Viola swept aside Tottenham in the Round of 32 and as they gear up to face their Serie A rivals, they will be missing a few players. Bernardeschi and Babacar will be absent as will Giuseppe Rossi, the latter misses due to a knee injury. On the bright side, Mohamed Salah, the Chelsea loanee, is on fire for his new side and has scored 6 in his first 7 appearances for the club. The emergence of Salah's form could also spur his teammates onto an unexpected victory on Thursday night.
Projected XI: Neto; Richards, Basanta, Savic, Alonso; Fernandez, Pizarro, Badelj; Marin, Gomez, Salah.
Roma will be without Castan and Ibarbo for the clash but other than the two listed, they seem to be close to full strength. Rudi Garcia's men are expected to line up as the usually do and Pjanic could be the key. The Bosnian's locker is filled with a fantastic range of passing that could unlock most defence's around Europe, making Roma one of the favourites to win the entire competition.
Projected XI: De Sanctis; Florenzi, Manolas, Astori, A. Cole; Pjanic, Keita, Nainggolan; Gervinho; Totti; Iturbe.
Fiorentina have won 3 of their last 6 in all competitions but lost their previous game, 4-0 to Lazio.
Roma have won just once in their last 6 games, the most recent result being a 0-0 draw - Chievo.
Fiorentina have never beaten a fellow Italian side in a European competition, drawing twice and losing twice.
Both sides are struggling for form at the moment but have players that could change the game for the better. Salah and Gervinho are likely to be the most important going forward for either side but the game could come down to what defence shows up stronger. The first leg is a must win for Fiorentina but it doesn't look likely, despite Roma's lesser form. Fiorentina 1-1 Roma.