Following their weekend disaster against Torino, Roma will look to—I don’t want to say right the ship or turn things around, but this club is really taxing my reservoir of recuperative analogies—I don’t know, starting winning again, something the club hasn’t managed to do in European play since last November against Leverkusen; a winless streak that now stands at seven matches.
Roma’s opponent tomorrow, Romanian side Astra Giurgiu, not to be confused with the personal lubricant Astroglide, are actually in decent form at the moment, having won two consecutive domestic matches.
Roma v. Astra Giurgiu: September 29th, 21:05 CET, 3:05 EDT.
Not only is this the first match between these two clubs, this is the first time Astra has even played an Italian opponent, whereas Roma has won three of six matches against Romanian opponents during their European history. Of course, we all remember the Cluj clusterfuck when Roma lost at home in the group stages of the Champions League.
I won’t pretend to know much of anything about tomorrow’s opponent, but on paper they don’t present much of a challenge, particularly not in European play, but we’ve all heard that song and dance before.
Spalletti shed some light on to Astra’s game plan in the build up to this match
I think they’re here to play a waiting game. They’ll then try to exploit the chance that may befall them.
It becomes even more dangerous because they won’t give us any space and will try to push on once they recover the ball.
Roma are stronger than them, but there’s always the need to put it into practice.
Pressing and pouncing on the counter are perhaps Roma’s greatest weaknesses, particularly with the glaring lack of a playmaker in the middle of the park, so if Spalletti is indeed correct in his premonition, this match might be ripe for an upset.
So how will Poobah counter that threat? Well, much like their last Europa League match, speculation is rampant that Spalletti will mix things up a bit, particularly in midfield where virtually every Roma related outlet is pimping some sort of lineup featuring our €16 million goldenchild Gerson.
For as much as we talk and debate about formations and squad rotations, this club’s most haunting spectre lives in between their ears. Spalletti has spoken at length about his club’s collective mentality, which now seems at its nadir follow last spring’s torrid run, and any slip up tomorrow against such a nondescript side could send Roma spiraling downwards.
So whether it’s Gerson, Leandro Paredes, Francesco Totti or even James Pallotta, someone needs to grab the bull by the horns and steer this club in the right direction.