Roma Still Best Team in The World After Coming From Behind to Beat Basle

Barney Corkhill@@BarneyCorkhillSenior Writer IDecember 6, 2009

ROME - NOVEMBER 22:  Francesco Totti of AS Roma in action with the ball during the Serie A match between Roma and Bari at Stadio Olimpico on November 22, 2009 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Apologies for the late edition of this article. I have been tied up watching the magnificent rugby 7's in Dubai.

Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship (UWCC ) witnessed another defence this past Thursday as champions Roma hosted FC Basel in the Europa League.

Both teams were vying for a place in the next round of the competition, and a positive result for either team could have secured that.

Going into the match, Roma were on a promising five match unbeaten run, and the additional benefit of having a home advantage made them slight favourites to overcome their opposition.

Any thoughts of a walkover, however, would have been wildly inaccurate, as Basel's 2-0 win in the reverse fixture showed.

Basel frightened their Italian hosts again on this occasion, but it was eventually the Rome team who came out on top, running out 2-1 victors.

Having just watched the first 20 minutes, however, you wouldn't have thought so, as Basel came out of the blocks much the better team, while Roma looked strangely toothless and far from dangerous.

The Swiss side's dominance paid off after 18 minutes too, as their captain Benjamin Huggel took advantage of some lacklustre marking, losing his man and latching onto Valentin Stocker's cross at the near post.

The goal seemed to breathe some life into the home side, and they should have been level shortly afterwards.

Mirko Vucinic slipped the ball to Simone Perrotta, but Basel's goalkeeper Stefan Wessels was quickly out to him to parry the ball past the post.

Perrotta was involved again a few minutes later, and while his second chance may not have been as inviting as the first, he will be disappointed by his efforts. His volley was drilled into the ground, allowing Wessels to make a relatively easy save.

But Roma needn't have panicked, as Basel gifted them the lifeline they needed just after the half hour mark.

A high, looping ball into the penalty area looked like it was making its way to Francesco Totti before the Roma talisman was dragged down by Marcos Gelabert. The referee wasted no time in pointing to the spot, and Totti picked himself up before squeezing the ball past Wessels.

The Roma skipper almost forced another goal for the home side just before halftime, but not for the first time Wessels was equal to the challenge.

An advancing Totti found himself in space just outside the area and so, unsurprisingly, let fly with a low effort which the Basel shot-stopper did well to keep out.

Despite Roma finishing the first half strongly, it was Basel who looked more dangerous at the start of the second. Indeed, they were unlucky not to retake the lead fairly early on.

Alexander Frei's strike from inside the box looked goal-bound, but Julio Sergio made a fine save to deny the Swiss striker from silencing the Stadio Olimpico.

It looked like Basel were the home side, as they were pushing for what would have been a winner to put them through to the next round, but just as they were starting to take control, Roma applied the killer touch.

A slick passing move down the right wing led to Daniele De Rossi receiving the ball, and the Italian midfielder's majestic first time through ball was inch perfect for Vucinic, who finished off the one-touch move with a low strike from close range.

The goal came against the run of play but it didn't seem to discourage Basel too much as they continued to push for that all-important second goal.

They very nearly got it on two occasions as well.

First, Stocker spurned a great opportunity when his shot was well saved by Julio Sergio's feet, then Alexander Frei missed an even better chance from close range with just two minutes left on the clock.

The Roma defence was slip open by a through ball to Stocker, who's low cross found Frei at the near post. The Basel striker, who just needed to tap it in, put too much on it and saw his strike cannon back off the crossbar.

The result means that Roma progress to the next round of the Europa League, and that Basel must avoid defeat in their final game against Fulham to join the Italians in the knockout stages.

100 percent of voters in the poll correctly predicted that Roma would topple Basle, so well done to everybody!


Roma's run

Roma 2-1 Fulham (Roma become new champions)

Inter Milan 1-1 Roma

Roma 3-1 Bari

Atalanta 1-2 Roma

Roma 2-1 Basel


( Click here to see the complete history of Barney Corkhill's Unofficial World Club Championship)


Roma's next title defence comes in a few hours time as they face a struggling Lazio in a massive derby match. Could Lazio become the best team in the world?!

The report for the Roma vs Lazio match may also be a little late.


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