Although Roma showed a few more signs of life over the weekend against Verona (emphasis on a few), we're still talking about a team that has drawn five of its last seven games and 10 of its last 17 overall since losing a one goal advantage in the 93rd minute against CSKA Moscow back in November. We won't rehash the particulars of this streak, but with an assured place in next year's Champions League competition suddenly in peril, we have to wonder exactly how Roma will approach tomorrow's Europa League encounter with Feyenoord.
With so much negativity swirling around this club, and with every move they make being questioned, it's not hard to imagine the players lacking a bit of motivation as they travel to Rotterdam. Given their poor form, the constant questioning of Garcia's tactics/substitutions and his very future, who starts, who sits and who gives a shit are the questions of the day. For my two cents, I'd love Roma to win something--anything--and it's always entertaining to see the club play in new locales, so I am, at the very least, interested from that perspective, despite how maddening this club has become.
The First Leg
February 19, 2015: Roma 1, Feynoord 1
This match wasn't really anything to write home about. Roma eschewed their usual blueprint for a draw, this time opting to fall behind in possession, passing, shooting and most major offensive categories. So in that sense, we should be thankful for the draw, right? But, as is their want, Roma coughed up another late lead, setting the stage for what is essentially a must win, because no one wants to see this dance dragged out an additional 30 minutes, while the prospect of Roma actually scoring more than one goal is laughable.
However, when we consider Feyenoord's impressive home form, the chances of Roma actually walking away with a victory looks slim. Feyenoord has not lost to an Italian side in European play in five straight home matches and was won four straight European tilts at the Feijenoord Stadion overall. Roma, meanwhile, has taken only three points in their last six European matches on the road and has lost both of their previous matches in the land of tulips.
While these bits of trivia will ultimately have no bearing on Thursday's match, given the quagmire in which Roma currently find themselves, they're certainly not reassuring. Ordinarily, expecting a slim one goal victory isn't an outrageous request, but as we pointed out over the weekend, eking out even a modest win has become a herculean undertaking for this club.
Just who will be charged with delivering that victory remains to be seen as well. Now that Napoli has cut the gap to second place down to a mere three points, or three matches worth of points for Roma, next week's home fixture against Juventus could spell the end of the Giallorossi's grasp on Italy's final automatic CL spot, which would put Roma in the unfortunate position of actually having to engage in meaningful matches in August. Point being, Rudi Garcia must balance his domestic agenda against Roma's remaining European ambitions--after all, beyond the prestige of winning a trophy, Roma's Europa League performance will impact their potential Champions League draw next season, to say nothing of the financial payouts from the tournament itself.
There are ample reasons to roll out the usual suspects in Rotterdam, but any gains made against Feyenoord could potentially mean further losses against The Old Lady. Then again, Roma's aces could even defeat ‘Noord the first time out, so what does it really matter?
I've really run out of ways to describe this season, it really is like none other in recent club history. So, I don't know, maybe Juan Iturbe scores a hat trick and Roma wins a laugher, or maybe Daniele De Rossi gives up a match losing own goal. I have no fucking clue anymore.