After being the encore of the Serie A schedule (or thereabouts) for the past few weeks, Roma will play the role of matinee idol this weekend when they kick-off week 37, the penultimate round of the 2016-2017 Serie A schedule, when they travel north to take on the Flying Donkeys of Chievo, although it’s not until 6 PM local time; apparently Italians like to sleep in on Saturdays.
While Roma temporarily relinquished second place to Napoli last week, thanks to their improbable 3-1 victory over Juventus last Sunday, Roma has the slightest of holds on second place, one point over the Partenopei, who play host to 7th place Fiorentina immediately after Roma’s match concludes.
Chievo v. Roma: May 20, 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT. Stadio Bentegodi, Verona.
So, if nothing else, we won’t have to sweat it out for very long, but just how can Roma clip the Flying Donkey’s wings? First up, as always, our look back at the reverse fixture.
December 22, 2016: Roma 3, Chievo 1
Despite the Donkeys drawing first blood thanks to a 37th minute goal from Jonathan De Guzman, Roma came roaring back thanks to a flurry of goals, the first of which was a wickedly bent free kick from Stephan El Shaarawy. SES’s wonder strike was followed up by second half goals from Edin Dzeko and Diego Perotti. All told, it was Roma’s fourth victory in their last six matches against Chievo.
So, will that good luck continue or are we destined for a post-Juve hangover?
Is there a risk that we’ll drop some concentration?
Not from what I’ve seen, rather the risk is we’re facing a strong team. Chievo have caused problems for several teams, they have a clear identity and they play with quality. That’s the risk.
We’ll heed the sage advice from two legendary Italians, Luciano Spalletti and George Costanza, and consider this perhaps the riskiest match Roma has faced in weeks. How easily could the high of the victory over Juventus be torn asunder by a lackadaisical performance against Chievo? Doesn’t this just seem like a match where a rather mediocre goalkeeper, this time in the form of Stefano Sorrentino, stands on his head time and time again?
Ugh, perish the thought, please. The good news is that Roma is nearly back at full tilt, as the only name of note missing is the long-injured Alessandro Florenzi. Yes, Kevin Strootman and Edin Dzeko should both be in uniform tomorrow evening, giving Spalletti a smorgasbord of tactical options.
Options aside, as well all know Spalletti has fallen in love with the 4-2-3-1, which seems to have finally achieved a balance between malleability and responsiveness, thanks in large part to the continually impressive play of Radja Nainggolan, who dominates the center of the park on both sides of the ball, while Mohamed Salah continues to increase his stock on the transfer market with his wizardly of the wings.
By now we’re quite familiar with the usual lineups selections, but given Leandro Paredes’ recent ascendency, it will be interesting to see if he bumps either Strootman or Daniele De Rossi out of the starting lineup.
I’m in a bit of a time crunch, so we’ll leave it at that—we’re 36 weeks deep anyway, you know Roma’s strengths and weaknesses by now, but it’s the devil in between the ears that always plagues the Giallorossi.
Can they exorcise this demon?