AS Roma‘s Europa League hopes were left hanging in the balance after they fell to a 1-0 defeat to Feyenoord in the first leg of their quarter-final tie, but perhaps more worrying for the Giallorossi was an early injury sustained by talisman Paulo Dybala.
Unlike last season’s Europa Conference League final triumph against the same opponents, Roma saw luck abandon them in the Netherlands. Captain Lorenzo Pellegrini struck the post from the penalty spot shortly before half time, whilst Dybala and Tammy Abraham went off injured.
To add insult to injury, Roger Ibanez looked to have equalised after Feyenoord went ahead through a stunning Mats Wieffer volley, but his header was somehow cleared off the line.
Roma looked uninspired without Dybala on the pitch though, and an overreliance on the former Juventus forward was laid bare after he was forced off.
Dybala injury disastrous for Roma
Roma were left cursing their luck in the first half as star man Dybala was forced off with an injury, minutes after being caught by a robust challenge on the edge of the box.
The Argentina international has carried the Giallorossi for much of the season and has netted 15 goals, as well as eight assists, so his absence is sure to be keenly felt over the coming weeks if he is ruled out.
Dybala had started to make Roma tick with some clever movement, but his substitution disrupted the Lupi’s rhythm, and Jose Mourinho‘s woes were made worse when Abraham injured his shoulder early in the second half.
Whilst Abraham‘s form has been hit and miss, Roma have had summer signing Dybala to thank for their top four challenge and hit a noticeable slump earlier in the season when he was ruled out with a thigh strain.
With the second leg in Rome and some crucial Serie A matches coming up, Mourinho will be praying that Dybala can return to the fold as soon as possible.
Pellegrini troubles continue
After an inspired campaign last season, Roma captain Pellegrini has failed to live up to those heights this year and struggled again at De Kuip. The Italy international drilled a contentious first half penalty against the woodwork and cut a frustrated figure before being replaced at the break.
Roma have lacked fluidity in attack and struggled to get the goals that their undoubted firepower ought to have brought them, with Pellegrini not able to make an impact.
The midfielder has suffered with injuries this season and been unable to hit a sustained spell of good form, but with the Europa League trophy and a return to the Champions League on the line, Roma need their captain to step up again.