AS Roma top their group with 8 points out of 4 games, 2 wins and 2 draws to be exact. Admittedly, we all expected more from this campaign up till now. Okay, so we didn't lose a game but the displays, especially in Pilzen and at home against Vienna, leave a lot to be desired. Giving up a 3-1 advantage in the space of 3 minutes or score a tonload of goals, Roma has shown its Jekyll & Hyde form in Europe as well this season.
What can be do about it? Not much I'm afraid, you simply can't change the DNA of someone, unless you're the Hulk of course. The comics version, not the one from Zenit and Porto. Fans are doomed to watch this childish theatre until the end of times (unless a rich Arab/Chinese takes over and we buy Suarez, Neuer, Bonucci and Ozil. We've all been accustomed to it for a while now, yet it remains a bitter pill to swallow, just like the last-minute Atalanta goal past weekend.
In the fifth match of this group, Roma host Pilzen. The last-placed team visits the leader. Sounds like a walk in the park but the standings tell a different story. This is a very tight group. Everyone can still progress to the next round or be eliminated. The Czech side holded Roma at their own turf in September, so we know they can be a pain in the ass if they want to. And let's not forget they were the top-seeded team of this group when the draw happened, ahead of the Giallorossi.
The usual suspects will start tomorow. In goal Alisson 'money well spent' Becker returns, Fazio and Manolas will try to keep the attackers of Pilzen at bay. Peres and Rüdiger are the fullbacks. FYI,one of those two is a right-footed CB playing LB. Why? Because this is how we Roma rolls, baby! The clearly inspirationless midfield trio of Dani 'I miss Pjanic' De Rossi, Radja 'I miss Pjanic even more' Nainggolan and Kevin 'OMG, I can walk again' Strooman should be first choice, while up front we will depend a lot on Dzeko and Salah. Totti, Rui, Florenzi miss out on all the action.
Sarcasm aside, this is and remains a pretty good line-up and one of the better ones in the Europa League (and I'm not laughing behind my desk right now). Inter, Villareal and Manchester United could all be eliminated, making Roma one of the, gasp, favorites of this competition (okay, now I'm laughing).
But first things first. Spal and co can mathematically seal their spot in the round of 32 and just send out a bunch of kids in the last meaningless game against Astra. That would be a true blessing for an already tired and gassed squad like ours. More importantly, the Roman derby is edging closer and with favorable match-ups like this one and Pescara in the near future, Roma needs to send out a positive signal to its fans.
Ironically, after a week where everybody in the Eternal City, Spalletti first in line, demanded Roma to be more like Juventus, perhaps they just need to be their old self for once. Which means inconsistent and with a comfortable win after an ugly painful loss.