Six points from first, eight matches left. Following their mid-week burnout in the Coppa Italia, the Giallorossi’s last chance for silverware this season rests on the pipe dream of overtaking Juventus in Serie A. While it is most certainly a pipe dream, interviewed Roma players have made it clear that this is what they’re fighting for – and if that fails, making the Old Lady from Turin break a sweat while sewing up the league. If Luciano Spalletti plays his cards right, Serie A may be in for a very interesting May.
Yet, to have that interesting May, Roma must have a perfect April, and that starts tomorrow with i Lupi’s match at the Renato Dall’Ara. Bologna are fourteenth in the league, have lost two of their last four and lost three-nil to Spalletti’s men in November – theoretically an easy win for a club like Roma, but you know how this club is. Here are two players who will have to perform for Roma this week to make sure that the joy of ending sixteen years of frustration can stay just within reach.
Perhaps it is Mario Rui who must step up the most this Sunday against Bologna. Emerson Palmieri, who has arguably been Roma’s player of the season, will reportedly be out this weekend due to a minor injury, and because of the lack of depth in the fullback department, the often-injured Rui will have to step into the starting lineup despite limited appearances the season. The player has impressed when available, but he is certainly not the first choice left back for Luciano Spalletti. Considering that Roma brought Rui in on loan, these last eight matches are a last chance for the Portuguese full-back to make an impression so that Roma takes up his option in the summer.
Another player who will be a critical piece of any Roma victory is, as usual, Edin Džeko. The Bosnian striker has been absolutely lethal for the Giallorossi this season, breaking club records for goals scored in the season while also becoming the main focal the main focal point of Roma’s offense. But if Roma wish to make the end of the season truly a challenge, the only way they will be able to do so is on the back of their star striker. Expect to see plenty of crosses for the Bosnian Diamond this Sunday and into the future – and expect to see a successful Roma if Džeko continues to score at this blistering pace.
Even considering the heartbreaking loss to Lazio in the Coppa Italia this past week, there’s no crying in calcio, so this match should be an open and shut case. Roma are one of the most lethal attacking teams in Europe, while Bologna’s 29 goals scored this season are fewer than Džeko himself has scored. However, any Roma fan worth his salt knows that these games are never as easy as that. Until they are, we will watch, we will bite our fingernails, we will shout at the TV. That’s what sports is all about.