Presumably you've heard the news by now, Erik Lamela will be sidelined with a right ankle injury for the next three weeks. While the injury in and of itself doesn't appear that dire, three weeks without your top scorer can't really be described as anything other than bad news.
So what's the good news?
Well, none. There is, however, slightly less bad news. Pescara and Siena, Roma's next two opponents, are currently in the drop zone, so the offense should be able to weather those storms. The defense is, of course, another story.
But with an already tough Fiorentina fixture looming, Lamela's absence takes on more significance. The Viola are one of Serie A's stingiest defenses, conceding only 10 goals through 13 matches, and with Torino and Sampdoria on their immediate docket, Fiorentina could be riding a seven match unbeaten streak when they come storming into Rome on December 8th.
Complicating matters further, Lamela's diagnosis is being ambivalently referred to, per the official report, as "lesion to the external ligaments". With such a vague diagnosis, three weeks starts to look a little more uncertain-will he merely be ‘questionable' when the 8th rolls around or does this lesion linger past the initial time frame?
Whatever the case may be, replacing Lamela, the 8th rated player in all of Europe (by some measures), is obviously no small task, as he accounts for roughly 30% of the Roman offense.
So what does Zeman do?
A quick fix would be to simply insert Mattia Destro into the starting lineup and push either him or Pablo Osvaldo to the now vacant right wing. Not ideal, but that would still keep three talented scorers on the pitch at once, Francesco Totti being the other, naturally.
For the Destro-philes among us, this is an intriguing situation. Imagine, if you will, that Destro gets the central nod, pushing PDO to the, well, destro, and flourishes. Would this suddenly pave the way for an Osvaldo sale and officially usher in the Destro Days?
One can dream, but given that PDO accounts for 26% of the offense on his own, Zeman might not want to upset the apple cart and barring any sort of false-nine type tactical change, the only other suitable option would seem to be giving Nico Lopez a three game audition.
The Fiorentina match was daunting enough as it was, but with Lamela's cloudy diagnosis looming over the club and a European future still within reach, taking six points from Pescara and Siena is absolutely essential.