While Roma's two straight wins have certainly been a welcomed development, by no means are their collective asses out of the fire; Lazio remains only one point behind Roma for second place. Although, with four matches remaining and Napoli five points back, it's looking increasingly likely that Rudi Garcia will usher the Giallorossi to consecutive Champions League campaigns; the only question remains through which door.
The next step on Roma's path to second place is a trip to the Meazza to take on 11th place AC Milan. 11th place, can you believe that!? My, how far the mighty have fallen. Despite Milan's misfortunes over the past several years, they haven't exactly been trampled under Roma's foot, as the Giallorossi have only emerged victorious in one of their past four encounters. Although when you consider that they historically win about one of every four against Milan, things are as they should be.
So what about this time around, will Roma come out on top? Will Mattia Destro exact revenge on Rudi Garcia? Will Philippe Mexes and Kostas Manolas fight to the death?
Dealing With Destro
With only four matches remaining and the Scudetto already settled (Juventus won, in case you've been away the past 48 months), there are only so many storylines left to go around. We could talk more about how horrible Roma's fullbacks have been, or how we have no real center forward, or even question what Ashley Cole did that was so bad as to earn banishment from Rudi Garcia, but let's face facts; the story of the day here is Mattia Destro facing his once and possibly future teammates for the first time since his controversial January loan to Milan, one looking increasingly likely to be a short term solution for both parties.
Destro, as you well know, lit Roma on fire once he returned from injury in the winter of 2014, providing a force in the middle not seen in the Eternal City since Luca Toni's miraculous run in 2010. The man many of us called Mr. Right not only looked like a fixture in Roma's lineup, but seemed destined to become Italy's next big thing.
Unfortunately for Destro, his transfer to Milan hasn't exactly been the Road to El Dorado, as he's found goals and playing time equally tough to come by. In 13 league appearances, Destro has managed only a pair of goals while averaging approximately 54 minutes per match. Not exactly a path towards greatness, leading many to believe Milan will balk at his €16m buyout clause next month.
Will he come back to Roma with his tail between his legs, or will Milan negotiate a lower buyout clause? Given Walter Sabatini's shit show in 2015, I wouldn't be shocked if Milan got him for €10m.
We don't know what Destro will be, but we know who he was and we're starting to get an inkling of what the man tabbed to replace him, Seydou Doumbia, brings to the table. On the ever so slight differences between these two, Garcia offered his sage counsel:
Now he's at Milan, and I only speak about Roma. He and [replacement Seydou] Doumbia are both penalty box players, it [Destro leaving] hasn't changed anything. The two players are not exactly the same, but there are very few differences, they're both poachers who like the ball near the goal.
Once again, I say, why get rid of Destro in the first place? Why, why, why get rid of a player with his scoring record, in the middle of what was (at the time) a title fight with Juventus? Why make what was, under the most optimal of circumstances, a lateral move at such a critical juncture in the season?
But I digress, if nothing else, it will make for great theater when Destro goes up against the club that discarded him four months ago.
From the Roman perspective, with Doumbia recovering from an injury last weekend, it's all hands on deck for Roma, with only the season long holdouts—Strootman, Maicon and Castan—absent from this week's squad list.
With Jeremy Menez and Mattia De Sciglio both suspended, this match may ultimately rest upon whatever mark Mattia Destro may make.
So will Roma receive its comeuppance or will Sabatini find some small measure of vindication should Destro stumble?