March 31, 2018 / 4:49 PM / a year ago

Soccer: Roma's Nainggolan doubtful for Barcelona clash

Soccer Football - Serie A - Bologna vs AS Roma - Stadio Renato Dall'Ara, Bologna, Italy - March 31, 2018 Roma's Radja Nainggolan walks off the pitch after sustaining an injury REUTERS/Alessandro Garofalo

MILAN (Reuters) - AS Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan is unlikely to face Barcelona in next week’s Champions League quarter-finals after limping off with a muscle injury in their 1-1 Serie A draw at Bologna on Saturday, coach Eusebio Di Francesco said.

“It doesn’t look good but he’s the ‘Ninja’ and he’s capable of coming through it,” said Di Francesco, referring to the combative Belgian by his nickname.

“He eased off at a certain point of the game and if he eases off you know it’s serious,” he added after Nainggolan had to be replaced in the 17th minute.

Di Francesco added that a repeat of Saturday’s performance by his team would not be good enough in Wednesday’s first leg at Barca, which will be Roma’s first visit to the Nou Camp since their humiliating 6-1 defeat in a group stage match in 2015.

“We know it won’t be enough if we play like this against Barcelona but we also know Barca won’t sit deep like Bologna – they’ll be coming at us,” said Di Francesco. “It will be a totally different game to today’s.

Roma substitute Edin Dzeko headed a second-half equaliser to rescue a point after Bologna went ahead in the 18th minute when Erick Pulgar pounced on a poor clearance to net with a low drive from the edge of the penalty area.

“We had plenty of chances to score today against a team who defended for long spells then we conceded from their first effort,” he added. “There were lots of occasions where we needed to keep our heads a bit better.”

“I’m not happy with the result but I saw some good things today – plus lots of other things that were less good.”

Writing by Brian Homewood; Editing by Ken Ferris

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