Given its current form, Barcelona probably would have been favored to win any draw it got in the Champions League quarterfinals, but Barca supporters will still be happy to have gotten arguably the easiest draw possible. The Blaugrana will expect to win big against Serie A stragglers AS Roma.
With all of the turnover it has gone through recently, Roma will consider making the Champions League quarterfinals an accomplishment. The club sits third in Serie A after changing coach, sporting director, and half its squad in the offseason. Four senior players and a slew of youngsters were sold, while several key loanees were not purchased and Francesco Totti retired. Six players who are 23 or younger were brought in. This is a Roma team building for the future, and likely not equipped for this type of challenge at the moment.
Lionel Messi and Co. are unlikely to take pity on the Rossoneri, though. They’ll score as many goals as they need to.
How Roma got here
After impressively topping Chelsea and Atlético Madrid in the group stage, Roma was rewarded with a winnable draw against Shakhtar Donetsk. However, it certainly did not make things easy on itself. Cengiz Ünder opened the scoring in Ukraine, but Shakhtar rallied back to win the first leg, 2-1. Roma struggled to find the back of the net at home, but a 52nd minute goal by Edin Dzeko proved to be enough, and Roma progressed on away goals.
How Barcelona got here
For 75 minutes, the Blaugrana looked to be in trouble. Chelsea defended well in the first leg of the round of 16 tie between the teams, and took a 62nd minute lead. But when Chelsea made one mistake at the back, Messi pounced, grabbing Chelsea a valuable away goal. He scored just three minutes into the second leg too, and Barca went on to win the tie comfortably, 4-1, on aggregate.
Key player: Ousmane Dembele
Yes, Messi is always the key player. But Dembele’s form since his return from injury has been excellent, and he put in a star-making performance against Chelsea. He might not need to be at his best for Barca to beat Roma, but he will need to raise his game in order for the Blaugrana to beat better teams over the next two rounds. Barca needs to see Dembele put in big performances in these two matches.
Barcelona by multiple goals. Roma should prove a formidable foe for anyone in the world a couple of years down the line, but not this year.