After squandering a 2-0 lead in the first match, Roma travel to the Renato Dall'Ara to take on 15th place Bologna.
Thankfully we're done with all things Inter-related till April, instead a depleted Roma squad will be looking to exact some revenge against Bolgona on Sunday.
If you have a selective memory, congratulations, because the first Roma-Bolgona match was a real punch to the groin. Roma dashed out to a 2-0 lead following goals from Alessandro Florenzi and Erik Lamela in the 6th and 16th minutes, respectively.
But, in what would be the first true disappointment of the season, Bologna leveled the game in the matter of sixty seconds with goals from Alberto Gilardino and Alessandro Diamanti in the 72nd and 73rd minutes, respectively. Things got worse still, as in the 90th minute a collision between Maarten Stekelenburg and Nicolas Burdisso paved the way for Gilardino to tap in the winner at the death.
The biggest Roma stories leading up to this match, beyond the uncertainty surrounding Stekelenburg's future and Miralem Pjanic's subtle calling out of the forwards, are the injuries facing Daniele De Rossi, Marquinhos, and Mattia Destro, the latter of whom will require surgery to repair a torn meniscus, possibly putting him on the shelf for the remainder of the year. Making matters worse, Lamela is suspended this match as well.
So to recap: no DDR, no Marquinhos, no Destro and no Lamela. Even against a 15th place squad, that's a tall order.
I guess it's somewhat fitting, given his criticism of the forwards, that the onus on scoring in the final third will be on Miralem, who should see a spike in his minutes following the injuries to DDR and Destro..
Step on up, Miralem.
Joining Pjanic will be Pablo Osvaldo and Francesco Totti. Manning the middle of the park should be Michael Bradley, Alessandro Florenzi and Panagiotis Tachtsidis, with The Bald Beauty and Florenzi occupying the wings.
It will be interesting to see if Bradley has the same free reign he exhibited in the first half of Sunday's Inter match; will Zeman feel the need to augment a suddenly thin front line with more forward runs from Bradley?
Whatever the case may be, with Nico Lopez tearing it up in America Sud and with Destro on the shelf, not to mention the ever present threat of PDO going postal, the frontline is remarkably thin. For a group already struggling with precision, this only makes matters worse. If anyone of them is off their game, there is no relief waiting in the wings.
At the back look for Nicolas Burdisso to start alongside Leandro Castan, while the usual pairing of Ivan Piris and Federico Balzaretti should man the outsides. Although, with the recent purchase of the versatile Vasilis Torosidis, both fullbacks should sleep with one eye open.
0, 2, 1, 0, 1. Those are the amount of goals Roma has scored over its past five league matches; the well of goals has apparently gone dry in the new year. Roma are winless in 2013 (Serie A) and haven't managed a victory away from the Olimpico since December 2nd.
Again, to recap:
Goal scoring troubles √
Away losing streak √
Winless in over a month √
Top goal scorer suspended √
It's not a happy time in Romaland, that's for sure.
So what about Sunday's opponents?
As we mentioned, Bologna enter Sunday ranked 15th in the table, losers of three of their past four league matches. The Rossoblu feature a -2 goal differential, though in fairness to them, that is the league's best negative goal differential, so they got that going for them.
Bologna has featured several formations this season, but has relied upon the 4-1-2-1-2 more often than not, being paced by Gilardino's eight goals. However, it's been the man behind Gila that has outshone the rest of the Rossoblu, Alessandro Diamanti.
Diamanti has been Bologna's best player, far and away. The ink laden attacking midfielder has five goals (second on the squad) and three assists (first on the squad). He's also ripping off 3.5 shots per game, first on the team and seventh in the league. He's also averaging a team leading 1.6 key passes and 3.1 dribbles per game, all while only completing 75.6% of his passes.
But beyond that, there is really anything terribly exciting to write about this team. Despite their negative goal differential, they have only allowed the 10th most goals in the league. Similarly, their 26 goals scored puts them 11th in the league. They're 13th in the league in possession and 18th in passing percentage, while conceding the 8th most shots in the league. So 15th place is right about where they should be.
If this season has taught us anything, it's not to take anything for granted. With the sheer number of inactives on this week's squad list and their floundering performance in general, what once might have been a gimme, is now far from a sure thing.
Roma might not even have the opportunity to squander a two goal lead in this one.