For a team supposedly reeling, a home match against 18th place Cesena is precisely what the doctor ordered. What's that you say? Roma getting shellacked by one of the world's best teams then being held to a scoreless draw on the road against third place Sampdoria doesn't qualify as reeling? Pshaw! Away with your cockeyed optimism, the season is over and you know it.
Regardless of what label you place on it, Roma needs a win and needs it badly. Any stumble tomorrow and Roma risk falling further behind first place Juventus, whom they currently trail by a mere three points. With Juve facing a relatively tough away fixture against Genoa tomorrow, Roma has a chance to gain some ground.
However, as we're all too painfully aware, titles are won and lost against the minnows of the league; Roma was not done in last season by their performances against the Old Lady, it was the string of dropped points that tore last season's assault on the Scudetto asunder.
Checking In With Cesena
A.C. Cesena's Serie A history is an interesting one, and I'm not even talking about the fact that they're known as the Seahorses. Since making their Serie A debut in 1973-1974, Cesena was a relative fixture in the top flight, spending most of the 70s, 80s and early 90s in Italy's top drawer. However, since being banished following the 1990-1991 season, the Seahorses didn't resurface (they're marine mammals, right?) until the 2010-2011 season, though it was a brief appearances as they were sent back down the following season.
The Wolves and Seahorses have met 24 times in their respective histories, and Roma hasn't exactly dominated, winning 11, drawing 10 and losing only thrice; the ten draws being the surprising figure.
Since Cesena is in 18th place, I'll spare you the spectral analysis, but you can rest assured, they ain't very good. For a club that once played host to the likes of Vincenzo Iaquinta, Antonio Candreva, Yuto Nagatomo and even Adrian Mutu, this current band of sea horses is short on talent, though they are developing goalkeeper Nicola Leali for Juventus and our very own Carlos Carbonero, the 24-year-old midfielder Roma landed from River Plate.
Cesena lines up in a variety of formations but has leaned on slight variations of the 4-3-1-2 for much of the season. No matter how they lineup, Cesena has been punchless, scoring only six goals through eight matches.
Rudi Rotating Roma
It seems like Roma can't make it through a week without losing someone else, and while they haven't necessarily added to their walking wounded since Saturday's draw against Sampdoria, they've received little in the way of concrete news regarding impending returns; though Kostas Manolas' return from suspension is certainly welcome news. But, I suppose we can shine a light upon the squad list, which includes Seydou Keita and Mattia Destro, the former of whom has been out for several weeks, while Destro was an uncertainty in the buildup to this match.
However, with titanic matchups against Napoli and Bayern Munich looming over the next week, squad rotations are the order of the day, a point which Garcia touched upon during today's press conference
Some players have had to play through the pain over the last few weeks. That is testament to their professionalism, so long as they don't take too big a risk for their health. In Genoa, I rested Pjanic for a large part of the game. Ucan and Paredes? I don't know if playing them in very important games will do them good. With Ucan, there's also the issue of integration, seeing as he doesn't yet speak Italian. However, I have confidence in them and if the chance arises, I'll have no hesitation in bringing them in.
So, if you thought this match was screaming for Uçan and Paredes, slow your roll; nothing in that statement indicates they're going to feature tomorrow, let alone start. But, if Roma can do what we all hope, roll Cesena right off the pitch, perhaps two of Roma's brightest prospects can get 30-45 minutes of action in the second half.
Getting Back on Track
Much as we discussed prior to the Chievo match, tomorrow's encounter is an absolute minefield of distraction. With a resurgent Napoli waiting on the first of the month and a shot at redemption at the Allianz on the fifth, you can't really blame Roma for looking ahead, but woeful as they might be, Roma cannot assume anything tomorrow against Cesena, and whether they rest key figures or not, Roma has absolutely no excuse to drop any points tomorrow.
This is a must win. End of story.