Just two weeks ago, things were looking quite good for Roma. They were keeping up a decent pace in Serie A, they had battled their way into the Round of 16 in the Europa League, and a 2-leg rendition of the Derby della Capitale was on the horizon in the Coppa Italia Semifinal. Yet Spalletti’s men started March incredibly poorly, losing to Lazio, Lyon, and Napoli in a nine-day span. Italian newspapers began to murmur that James Pallotta was losing faith in his manager, that players would flee the capital club like rats from a sinking ship once the summer window arrived and that it was really quite a shame that Francesco Totti’s last season was being ruined. Fortunately, i Lupi stopped the bleeding (of points and of dignity) with a nice win over Palermo, where Roma’s bench proved itself to be deeper than once feared and Edin Džeko scored his thirtieth goal of the season. Now, Roma must turn to one of its other competitions and attempt to fix the mess that it made in a dismal first leg.
To be blunt, the Giallorossi have painted themselves into a corner for this match. It’s either win big or go home. Will they be able to take the good vibes from their 3-0 thumping of the Rosanero to the Europa League? Or will Roma once again come up empty in Europe, unable to send Francesco Totti off into the sunset with one more piece of silverware to add to his collection?
What to Watch For
Edin Džeko - will he save Roma’s skin by adding yet another goal?
At this point, it’s fair to say that Edin Džeko represents Roma’s most powerful attacking force, based on form and importance in the side. Thirty goals is an incredible achievement - the Bosnian is the fourth Roma player to ever reach that tally, and the fourth player in Europe to reach it this year. If Roma is going to make it to the quarter-final of the Europa League, it’s going to be by scoring, and scoring a lot. Džeko must come prepared to score in this match, or it will be the end of the campaign for the Giallorossi.
Will Luciano Spalletti stick with Alisson between the sticks?
This is a tricky one. Alisson has been quite good this season in limited minutes, but Roma must be airtight in the back if they want to come out of this match with a win. Will Spalletti mess up the balancing act that he’s played by giving Alisson and Wojciech Szczęsny minutes in different competitions to make sure that Roma has another match to play?
How much squad rotation will we see?
It’s evident that Roma’s burdensome schedule has started to take a toll on the workhorses of the club. In recent games players have looked tired from the first minute, resulting in a loss of defensive cohesiveness and mental fortitude. Luciano Spalletti finally rotated his squad against Palermo, debuting a new-look lineup with Stephan El Shaarawy up front. How many changes will we see in the squad this time around? How many changes should we see in the squad this time around?
The narrative of the entire season hangs on this match. If Roma pulls off a come-from-behind win, they still have a decent chance at European glory, and any season which adds a trophy to the cabinet is a good one for Roma fans. If Roma loses, however, we might just see another exodus from Trigoria.