It has been such a tumultuous couple of weeks in Roma land--between the constant speculation about Rudi Garcia's future and the smattering of Stephan El Shaarawy rumors--that you almost forgot that this team actually, you know, plays matches from time to time. Next up in Roma's cavalcade of errors are the Flying Donkeys from Verona, Chievo Verona to be exact.
And it just wouldn't be Roma if they didn't enter this match with some sort of disadvantage. Put all the managerial mishegoss aside, the Giallrossi are travelling to Verona with one arm practically tied behind their backs.
In addition to the always questionable status of Francesco Totti (sigh), Roma are short-staffed in the worst way--Radja Nainggolan, Edin Dzeko and Miralem Pjanic are all suspended for this match, while Salih Uçan is facing the first of four weeks on the sideline with a foot injury, meaning Rudi is really going to have to plumb the depths on this one.
I seldom make scoreline predictions, but given that confluence of circumstances, I have no clue how this one will unfold, but let's take a closer look anyway, shall we?
We'll keep this section brief because, well, because its Chievo; there isn't much variation when it comes to the Flying Donkeys. Chievo are as midtable as ever, currently sitting in 11th place and boasting a +3 goal differential, a better mark than either of the two clubs immediately ahead of them in the table, though.
Leading the charge have been Italian forwards Alberto Paloschi and Riccardo Meggiorini, who have combined for ten goals and eight assists thus far. Chievo's 4-3-1-2 has been pretty effective given its relative lack of talent, scoring 21 goals, 67% of which have come in the run of play.
Although the historical record isn't kind to them, they held Roma to a scoreless draw last time out, but then again, who didn't?
Without their most athletic midfielder, their best striker (stifle that laughter) and, let's face it, their best player, we may be treated to one of the ugliest lineups we've seen during Garcia's two-and-a-half year tenure.
While the backline should remain the same (which is indicative of a host of other problems), the rest of Rudi's lineup figures to be a complete patchwork. Without Nainggolan and Pjanic, chances are we'll see Daniele De Rossi flanked by Seydou Keita and William Vainqueur. While Keita has had an estimable career, we've reached the point of diminishing returns, while Willy VQ remains an enigma, looking like a solid rotation player one minute and MLS All-Star the next (I kid, I kid). Point being, this midfield has ABSOLUTELY NO creative spark and is slow as molasses, which I've never actually had, now that I think about it. Expect a lot of sideways passes and befuddled looks.
Upfront, the absence of Dzeko only hurts insofar as it drags down Roma's average height, but never fear The Predator is here. Without the Bosnian Batistuta, Gervinho will once again reprise his role as center forward, with Mohamed Salah and Iago Falque playing the part of wingmen. While Gervinho has had a hell of a season, we're currently stuck in the trough of one of his patented hot/cold streaks, as the Ivorian has only scored one goal since Halloween (yes, I realize he was hurt for part of that time).
Now, there has been some talk of Rudi altering the frontline formation and dropping Falque in the hole behind Salah and Gervinho, but you can't piss on my shoes and tell me it's raining; that ain't happening.
I'm long past the point where I try and offer diagnoses for Roma's woes (at least under this administration) but the combination of Roma's injury and suspension problems and the Flying Donkey's inherent stubbornness portends a tough match, one in which Garcia would be hard pressed to take a single point.