Overcoming a two-nil aggregate deficit was always a tall order for Roma as they “welcomed” Lazio to the Stadio Olimpico in the second leg of today’s Coppa Italia semifinal. At the very least, Roma needed to bottle up the Lazio attack while also scoring two goals of their own to advance via the away goal advantage.
Well, they got those two goals, the problem was (obviously) that they conceded two further goals, one excusable the other not so much, leaving Roma (more than likely) trophyless for the eighth straight season, and plunging them into yet another existential crisis.
Listen, do we really care about the Coppa Italia in and of itself? Of course not, and while it would have been nice to see them advance to the final, in the grand scheme of things it doesn’t hold much water. Once the chance to become the first club to capture ten Coppa titles was done and dusted, this competition, at least in my eyes, lost a lot of juice—it's the participation trophy of Italian football. And no, that's not me being bitter, it’s just a shiny consolation prize that holds little meaning in the grand scheme of things.
Quite naturally, then, Roma fans will turn this molehill into the grandest mountain on earth, casting aspersions upon Luciano Spalletti’s ability to make Roma a winner, never mind the fact that he was hung out to dry during the winter transfer market, effectively leaving him with only 12 to 13 outfield players from which to choose, the results of which are now coming home to roost.
Is he without blame? Of course not, if he really valued this tournament, Spalletti wouldn’t have shifted back to a 4-3-3, a lineup he hasn’t used (in the purest sense) since the fall, and he definitely would not have left Federico Fazio on the bench in favor of Juan Jesus. So he most definitely shoulders some of the burden for this loss, but to suggest that this performance should lead to his dismissal is absurd and ignorant to the 18 months or so that preceded his return to Roma, the club is in a much better place than they were under Rudi Garcia.
Now, there is an undercurrent that suggests Spalletti himself decided the Coppa Italia should be the litmus test for his managerial capabilities, which is equally ridiculous. But look, if Spalletti punks out after only one full year on the job, then I’ll lose quite a bit of respect for him, especially if he loves this club as much as he professed to last winter.
So which is it, is he a questionable manager or simply a coward, or does he know something we don’t? Might there be some sort of impending doom heading our way this summer, making this loss a convenient excuse to bail before shit really hits the fan?
We won’t have these answers for several weeks, if not months, but prepare yourself for a maelstrom of rumors regarding Spalletti’s future in Rome.