Jonas rather astutely pointed out a strange curiosity yesterday in regards to Roma's current state of affairs; the more things change, the more they stay the same. Despite the euphoric rush brought on by Roma's resurgence in 2016, the consecutive draws (and two in their past three), though exciting at some points, represents the same old ‘can't get out of their own way' Roma we've always known.
So which is it? Were these temporary blips brought on by fatigue and simple chance, or were they indicators of actual, systemic problems? For my money, I lean on the formerâthis team, particularly its key components, is absolutely gassed, and I'll continue to cut Spalletti slack until he can truly outfit the team in his image.
However, before we fret about that, Roma has some business to take care of, the always appreciated midweek domestic fixture. Tenth place Torino comes charging into town tomorrow for a suddenly crucial fixture.
As we mentioned over the weekend, the first Atalanta fixture from November was the point where Rudi Garcia's train really went off the rails, so we'll forgo our usual look back at the reverse fixture (it was a 1-1 draw in Torino) and jump right into the action.
Unbeaten but Unimpressed
Despite the depressing-but-somewhat-exciting draw over the weekend, we have to face facts: Roma has not lost in their last 12 matches. Fortunately for Spalletti, unlike his predecessor, the recent draws were buttressed by an equally recent eight match winning streak, and were it not for some horrendous finishing from Edin Dzeko and Mohamed Salah the past two weeks, Roma might still be riding that wave of actual success.
But they were, so here we stand, facing a must-win against tenth place Torino. With Inter Milan breathing down Roma's necks, each and every point from here on out is no longer up for debate. They must win. Every. Single. Match.
Dive into this debate, and three points of contention emerge. First, why on earth did Spalletti change formation last week? What did he see in Atalanta's setup that prompted him to push Alessandro Florenzi back into the midfield and insert Antonio Rüdiger in the rightback slot, and does he see the same weakness in Torino?
Point the second, what will he do with Edin Dzeko? Despite his support of Dzeko, even his most ardent fans would probably admit something is amiss with dear old Edin. So whether he's injured, miscast or simply missing something between the ears, his form is awful, and as we saw time and time again during the fall, Dzeko the decoy only works to a certain extentâsomeone has to score.
Our last point bridges naturally from the second, what about Francesco Totti? While claims of a post-match throw down were ultimately unfounded, Totti's performance the past two weeks has suddenly heaped enormous amounts of pressure on Spalletti. Keeping Totti on the fringes was all well and good when the club was infallible, but now that a chink has appeared in the armor and Totti has bailed them out in successive matches, the cries for his inclusion are far more warranted.
In addition to managing his squad's fatigue, these three hurdles will likely be present in each of Roma's remaining five matches. How Spalletti overcomes those obstacles will largely determine if Roma takes center stage in the Champions League next season, or if they're mingling with the help in the Europa League.