Roma being Roma was in full effect over the past week or so. From the agonizing 2-0 victory over Serie A newcomers Frosinone last week to the pure, unadulterated exaltation of stifling the vaunted Barcelona attack last Wednesday to this weekend's horror show against Sassuolo, the duality of (Ro)man was on full display. Nothing, and I mean nothing, is ever easy or predictable with this club. Tomorrow's trip to the Luigi Ferraris could just as easily see Roma wallop Samp 4-0 as it could end with Eder single handedly vanquishing Roma, Robert Lewandowski style.
With such a quick turnaround from Sunday's matchup with Sassuolo, Roma's main concerns remain largely the same, so we'll keep this one pretty brief.
Rotation, Rotation, Rotation
We'll adapt that old real estate adage for our own purposes here. Roma's chances of success in the near term is all about rotation, rotation, rotation; squad rotation to be exact. I remain dumbfounded about Salih Uçan's continued absence from this squad; if an injury to Miralem Pjanic doesn't pave the way for his inclusion against Frosinone or Sassuolo, I'm afraid this kid is never going to see the pitch--honestly, what else has to give?
Rudi Garcia simply cannot throw Pjanic, Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi out there week after week and expect the midfield to thrive. He absolutely must find some way to integrate Uçan and figure out how to best maximize the minutes of aging and well-worn players like De Rossi and Seydou Keita, to say nothing of William Vainqueur. Uçan is more than capable of playing the facilitator to Vainqueur and Keita's holding/defensive roles, so it's not as if it's some grand enigma in need of unravelling.
Throw that trio out there and mix and match them with Edin Dzeko, Mohamed Salah, Iago Falque, Juan Iturbe and even Gervinho, and Roma should barely miss a beat, throwing a competitive side out there every week, while keeping legs fresh and spirits buoyed.
Defensively, it's the same story. I'm not saying he should throw Norbert Gyomber or Emerson Palmieri out there tomorrow, but why not use them against Frosinone last week? They may be young and vibrant, but sooner or later Kostas Manolas, Antonio Rüdiger, Lucas Digne and Alessandro Florenzi will pick up a minor strain or simply hit the wall, but to date Garcia has shown little ability or willingness to trust his reserves.
And hey, wouldn't you know it, Rüdiger was hurt in between the time I wrote and posted this, ditto for Totti.
No team on earth can win a title without mixing and matching, without rotating their squad pieces, without keeping their core players fresh. Whether you pin it on Garcia or Walter Sabatini, Roma's refusal to use their young reserves is not only hurting the club in the long term, but in the here and now where it inordinately taxes the legs and lungs of its most important players. Garcia needs to channel his inner Greg Popovich and find a way to curb the minutes of his star players early and often.
With fixtures against lightweights Carpi and relatively unknown BATE Borisov to close out the month, Roma has to figure out a way to win without relying on their A-Team for 90 minutes each and every week.
Due to some real world scheduling conflicts and commitments, this preview will double as the match thread. So feel free to carry on as usual.