Roma’s midweek victory over Austria Wien in the Europa League sort of papered over what preceded that, an ugly scoreless draw against lowly Empoli last weekend, a draw which halted Roma’s four match winning streak. While the Giallorossi are still technically unbeaten over their past five matches, dropping points to Empoli, let alone failing to score, sort of put a little rain on Roma’s parade.
Well, for a club looking to get back on track and hopefully close the gap on Juventus, the Serie A schedule makers served up a softy, a home match against lowly Bologna, though that didn’t really matter against Empoli, so perhaps we shouldn’t count our chickens before they hatch.
The Bologna Has Gone Bad
While we spent yesterday reminiscing about Mattia Destro, chances are he won't’ suit up for Roberto Donadoni, nor will another former Roma man, Vasilis Torosidis, but the capital connections don’t end there. In Destro’s absence, look for Umar "String Bean" Sadiq to get the start. Roma’s 19-year-old Nigerian striker has shown some promise in his intermittent appearances for both Bologna and his parent club, while his record with Nigeria on international duty is quite encouraging. As it stands right now, the race to replace Edin Dzeko someday is deadlocked between Sadiq and Ezequiel Ponce, so you’ll want to keep on eye on this kid tomorrow
Roma v. Bologna: November 6, 20:45 CET/2:45 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
Beyond Sadiq and the aforementioned missing former Roma players, there isn’t much to say about Bologna; surviving the drop will be a massive achievement for them this season, as they haven’t won a match since late September.
Bottom line, they’re not much of a challenge for Roma, but since when has that mattered, right?
Someone Call the Doctor
Much as it was midweek in Europe, the headlines surrounding Roma revolve around the litany of muscular injuries currently sweeping through the squad like the bubonic plague. Francesco Totti, Kostas Manolas and Emerson all join the previously injured Thomas Vermaelen, Alessandro Florenzi and Mario Rui on the injured list, which will, once again, leave the defense in the hands of Federico Fazio and the newly returned Antonio Rüdiger, with Rrruan Jesus and Bruno Peres on the edges.
While the defense has been a patchwork nightmare over the past few weeks, Luciano Spalletti has seemingly settled into a favored formation, or at the very least, a consistent rotation. With Dzeko doing his thing up top, the rest of the formation has sort of coalesced behind him, with Stephan El Shaarawy and Mohamed Salah playing the roles of lovable and trustworthy stewards, while Radja Nainggolan remains woefully miscast as the de facto number 10. Linking it all together has been the double pivot of Daniele De Rossi and Leandro Paredes, the latter of whom currently exists in a unique space where his talent and potential is clear to see, but the actual results have still been lacking, bar his stellar returns against Palermo and Empoli.
Ultimately, this match is a near carbon copy of the Empoli affair, wherein Roma should win this match walking away, but can’t simply rest on their laurels and assume the goals will come. As we saw in that pitiful draw against Empoli, ball movement is all well and good, but if it doesn’t produce clear cut scoring chances, what are you left with?
Spalletti himself recently admitted that the club remains a bit distracted, so what better way to refocus than blowing Bologna out of the water tomorrow?