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Galatasaray - Sparta Prag
With the support of their fans, the home team have the quality to take the advantageous score needed for the second leg. In Champions League matches they have shown high tempo and dominance. A team with a lot of experience in European cups. I don't think Sparta Prague can withstand the intense crowd pressure and high tempo for a long time. The home team will win.
It seems Feyenoord and Roma have become regular rivals on the European stage. They will face for the third season running with the Dutch outfit hoping to make it third time lucky in their UEFA Europa League knockout play-off. First leg will be played at De Kuip, while seven days later Roma will have the home advantage at full-packed Stadio Olimpico.
Feyenoord are competing in this round having finished third in UEFA Champions League Group E. They started in fantastic way, with two victories in their first three rounds and their fans were hoping of Top-2 finish. Nevertheless, Arne Slot's men lost their last three fixtures to finish on six points, four behind Lazio in second place. However, the home results are solid. This season, Feyenoord beat Celtic (2:0) and Lazio (3:1) in Rotterdam but suffered one defeat, a 3:1 home loss to Atletico Madrid on Matchday 5 which ended their hopes of Champions League progression. Feyenoord will try to register another victory supported by the loyal fans, but Slot has some injury concerns. Quinten Timber suffered a severe concussion in the match with AZ Alkmaar earlier this month and most probably won't play here. Defender Gernot Trauner is sidelined due to a hamstring problem, while first-choice goalkeeper Justin Bijlow will miss the next four weeks with a calf injury. That means the German international Timon Wellenreuther continues between the sticks. Midfielder Thomas van den Belt is also unavailable, but the club leading scorer Santiago Gimenez will lead the line. He has 19 goals from 21 league games this season and Roma defenders must keep eyes on him.
Roma are the last season's finalists of the competition. The Italian side lost to Sevilla in Budapest and that was the first-ever defeat for Mourinho in a European final. The current season wasn't that good and the Giallorossi finished as second in Group G, behind Czech Republic side Slavia Prague. Roma are under new management for this tie having replace Jose Mourinho with Daniele De Rossi in January. This could be a problem as De Rossi has no previous European experience. However, there is another man with big experience - Romelu Lukaku has failed to score in just one of his last 17 Europa League appearances, netting 20 goals across that period. The Belgian striker is in nice form and could make a difference in this clash. De Rossi has some issues ahead of this match. Forward Tammy Abraham is still unavailable, but centre-back Chris Smalling has recovered and managed to resume full training. His presence could be important as Evan Ndicka has been celebrating Ivory Coast's title at Africa Cup of Nations so is unlikely to play. Bryan Cristante is doubtful with a back problem and could be replaced by Edoardo Bove. Right-back Rick Karsdorp will face his former employees. He had 122 appearances for Feyenoord between 2014 and 2017.
Feyenoord vs Roma Prediction:
Along with the Conference League final, Roma also beat Feyenoord in last season's Europa League quarter-finals, overturning a 1:0 first-leg defeat in Rotterdam with a 4:1 extra-time win at Olimpico. It is truth that it was Mourinho who masterminded wins against Feyenoord in both 2022 and 2023. His coaching experience should not be ignored, but I think Daniele De Rossi has something else - better connection with the players and bigger energy. Roma have three victories on the four matches with De Rossi in charge and the players confidence is higher, despite the Saturday's defeat to Inter. I expect Roma to remain unbeaten in Rotterdam.
Feyenoord vs Roma Pick: Roma +0.5 AH @ 1.78 with Pinnacle