Qarabag vs Roma – Wednesday, September 27, 17:00 GMT/18:00 CET – Baku National Stadium, Baku.
After being smashed 6-0 on matchday 1 of the UEFA Champions League by Chelsea, Qarabag are now looking towards their first ever UEFA Champions League match on Azeri soil. Exiled from the Nagorno-Karabakh region, which is occupied by neighbouring Armenia, Qarabag play their Champions League home games at the Baku National Stadium.
Opened in 2015 the Baku National Stadium replaces the Tofiq Bahramov Stadium, named after the Soviet referee Tofiq Bahramov, who is famous for awarding England a controversial goal at the 1966 World Cup final against Germany, as the club’s European home venue. Constructed to host 69,870 people the Baku National Stadium is a UEFA Category 4 Stadium that will host some UEFA Euro matches in 2020. Most importantly for Qarabag, the stadium will be full and loud for the first ever Champions League game on Azeri soil.
Drawn into a tough group Qarabag have little to no hope to reach one of the first three games to advance to the playoffs of either the Champions League or the Europa League. On the flipside having been drawn with Atlético Madrid, Roma and Chelsea means that Azerbaijan can look forward to hosting three of Europe’s most prominent football clubs.
For those three clubs advancing to the round of 16 will be the minimum. Qarabag aside this might be the group of death in this season’s competition and gaining six points against the Azeri side will be the minimum for the big three of the team. That said Azeri sides are a force at home and it would not be beyond Qarabag to at least take a couple of points during the group stage. Qarabag can, therefore, be the difference maker in this group playing a major role in deciding on who will advance to the round of 16 of the Champions League or the round of 32 of the Europa League come springtime.
Qarabag vs Copenhagen – Players to look out for:
Mahir Madatov #11 – Qarabag
The 20-year-old Azeri left-winger Mahir Madatov has been the revelation of the still young Azeri Premyer Liqasi. The dynamic winger is a product of Qarabag’s youth academy, and early indications show that he could become a symbol of the progress of football in the country scoring five goals in the first five matches of the season.
Edin Dzeko #9 – Roma
Edin Dzeko is a target machine. The Bosnian forward joined Roma in 2015 after a somewhat disappointing season with Manchester City. He had a slow start in Italy managing just eight goals in his first season in Italy. Roma remained patient, however, making his loan deal permanent ahead of the 2016-17 season. Dzeko paid back the trust by scoring 29 goals and 12 assists in 37 Serie A games. This season he has been at it once again scoring six goals and one assist in five games. Facing Qarabag on Wednesday Dzeko will want to terrorise Qarabag’s defensive line.
Qarabag vs Roma – Match Stats
- Qarabağ have a solid home record as they bid to get points on the board.
- They have lost just one of their last nine European home matches (W5 D3): 1-2 against ACF Fiorentina in the UEFA Europa League on 8 December 2016.
- Qarabağ’s four previous fixtures against Italian sides have ended W0 D1 L3 (D1 L1 at home).
- They drew 0-0 with FC Internazionale Milano in Baku in the 2014-15 UEFA Europa League group stage and went down 2-1 to Fiorentina at the same stage of that competition last season, their most recent home defeat.
- This is Roma’s first game against a club from Azerbaijan.
Futbolgrad’s Prediction: Qarabag vs Roma 0-3
Qarabag vs Roma – Possible Lineups
Kanibolotsky – Agolli, Guseynov, Rzezniczak, Medvedev – Michel, Richard – Madatov, Quintana, Elyounoussi – Ndlovu
Manager: Gurban Gurbanov
Alisson – Kolarov, Fazio, Manolas, Florenzi – Nainggolan, De Rossi, Strootman – El Shaarawy, Dzeko, Perotti
Manager: Eusebio Di Francesco
Manuel Veth is a freelance journalist and social media junior editor at Bundesliga.com. He is also a holder of a Doctorate of Philosophy in History from King’s College London, and his thesis is titled: “Selling the People’s Game: Football’s transition from Communism to Capitalism in the Soviet Union and its Successor States,” which will be available in print soon. Originally from Munich, Manuel has lived in Amsterdam, Kyiv, Moscow, Tbilisi, London, and currently is located in Victoria BC, Canada. Follow Manuel on Twitter @ManuelVeth.