Sure, Pescara might be sunny and shiny destination alongside the beautiful Adriatic coast, and although the Delfini are last-placed and the uncrowned 'losers' of Serie A in 2016-2017, the Giallorosso are not on a holiday trip. It's worse than that. They might face their hardest task of the season. Worse than Lyon, Lazio or Juventus. Hey, it's typical Roma and you know it.
A team that has only two wins in 32 games and gathered only 14 points so far is no match for this Roma...on paper. While Pescara have nothing left to play for (relegation is
almost certain), Roma are in the middle of a Champions League race with Napoli. So this sounds, feels, looks and is a must-win game for Spalletti and co. because Napoli face a slightly harder task this weekend (a trip to Roma B Sassuolo), it's yet another opportunity to widen the gap with third spot.
To put things a bit in perspective: Roma has scored 70 goals at this stage and has the current top scorer in their ranks in the form of Edin Dzeko (25 goals, same as Belotti or the entire team of Palermo FYI). Pescara Calcio, on the other hand, has conceded a massive 70 goals. Salah-Dzeko-Radja are all fit and raring to go. That doesn't look too good for the defence of the Delfini.
Their attack looks a bit better (or shall I say, less worse). 31 goals scored, mainly thanks to the return of one Zdenek Zeman. Top scorer of the Delfini is former Roma youth product (my oh my, they show up everywhere, don't they?) Caprari with 8 goals. That's still less than our Radja, who's a midfielder.
Ok, so you're probably asking yourself, why? Why all the fuss about this match? Why is this more difficult and dangerous than Juve or Lazio? Well, firstly AS Roma is known to choke on a few occasions during the season—Cagliari, Austria Vienna, Atalanta, Sampdoria for instance. It's a 'must-win' and that's exactly the reason why there's a chance that they 'won't win'. Maybe because of the quality of play, maybe because of sheer bad luck.
Secondly, and that confirms my previous point, they narrowly won the home game 3-2, after Dzeko scored two goals in the first ten minutes. The DNA of AS Roma shows us that they are sloppy when it comes to 'comfortable' advantages, especially against inferior sides. 2-0 and 3-1 (Perotti penalty) still wasn't a safe bet that day as Caprari scored in the 75' and made the fans at the Olimpico shiver more than a naked Mexican on the North Pole. Don't count your chickens before they're hatched etc etc.
Finally, the famous Roman curse. Crescenzi, Verre, Caprari, Pepe, Bovo. Enough former Roma players to make Sassuolo or Milan blush. Keep an eye on Gianluca Caprari, who's now Inter property, as he seems their most lethal weapon. To top it off with a sweet Roman cherry: former Roma coach (two tenures) Zeman has returned to Pescara in February, the club that he guided to Serie A back in 2012 with players like Insigne, Immobile and Verratti. Admittedly, Pescara don't boost players of that calibre right now.
Zeman's first game in charge was a resounding 5-0 win against Genoa, his only win so far nota bene. Two draws and five losses followed in the next seven games. Hardly a grant return but Pescara were doomed anyway. They do wanna end the season on a high.
They held Milan at home (1-1) while Juventus got the job done but not as convincingly as it should (0-2). Roma should take notes of Lazio's win back in February, 2-6, just before Zeman got appointed, or Empoli's 0-4 win in November. Truth be told, I'd be glad with a 0-1 win as well. At this point, we just need these wins to secure CL as fast as possible, doesn't matter if we demolish opponents or not.
So yeah, Pescara a sure three points? I don't think so. If it's still 0-0 after 60 minutes, expect the players to get way more nervous and frustrated and then both ugly or nice Roma can show up on Monday. But did I already mention this is a must-win?
No excuses, no sympathy, no mercy. Get out there and get the three points. We'll already know the result of Sassuolo-Napoli by the time Roma's game kicks off. If Napoli win, the Giallorossi suddenly find themselves in third place. If Napoli draw or lose, then it makes Pescara even more important.
It's gonna be a dogfight between wolves and dolphins in the Adriatic Sea. The wolves should come out as the obvious winners here, but will they survive or drown in the water?