Eusebio Di Francesco’s AS Roma are underdogs against Ernesto Valverde’s Barcelona, but the Italian has hope in that he does have a similar shock achievement in his past. On September 15th, 2016, Di Francesco’s Sassuolo thrashed Valverde’s Athletic Bilbao 3-0 in the UEFA Europa League group stage.
It’s a feat Di Francesco hopes to repeat, at least to some degree, as the two managers meet again in the UEFA Champions League tomorrow.
Athletic put the early pressure on that day, but Sassuolo drew first blood through a long dribble and finish by former Espanyol youth product Pol Lirola.
Valverde’s men kept creating chances, but it would be Sassuolo again who’d score, this time from a gifted backpass which Grégoire Defrel put away for the Italians’ second. Defrel now plays for Roma.
And if that wasn’t enough, Defrel would play in Matteo Politano, who would leave the keeper standing still as he finished low and to the bottom corner. 3-0 was a shock result, but it was one Valverde’s men recovered from. The Basques won the return leg against Sassuolo 3-2, and coupled with other positive results in the group, qualified second and onto the next round. Sassuolo were eliminated.