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Season Preview: Roma, The World Cup and Motivation

This season is an extra special one, with World Cup 2018 as the final act! Who will be Roma’s next Maicon?

Genoa CFC v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Valerio Pennicino/Getty Images

The 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia is in less than a year! While this competition doesn’t directly involve Roma per say, it will hopefully involve as many of her players as possible. The best way for this to be accomplished? For a player to have one hell of a 2017/18 campaign with AS Roma. There may simply be no better example of this than Maicon. The veteran Brazilian had a renaissance in his first season with Roma in 2013/14, playing his ass off to earn his ultimate “trophy”: a chance to play for his country one final time, in a World Cup, on his home soil. It was a well earned call-up (that unfortunately ended disastrously for Maicon and Brazil, but we’ll not mention too much about that).

So, the question here? Who from Roma can we expect to see in Russia next summer? Who will be fighting tooth and nail this fall for their nation to even make it to Russia? Who will be fighting for a spot in their respective national side? Finally, we’ll let you decide who you feel has the best chance of having a “Maicon” type of season.

(Almost) Guaranteed Call-Ups


Alisson Becker is the number one and it appears he will keep that title for the time being. Now that he is in that same role for Roma and out from under the shadow of the mighty Woj, both club and country should benefit from his consistent minutes.

Italy Press Conference Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images


Daniele De Rossi looks to be a lock for his fourth World Cup appearance, this time as vice-captain behind the legend Gigi Buffon.

Alessandro Florenzi, if healthy and back to form, should definitely figure to be a part of Ventura’s plans.


Hector Moreno has been a mainstay for Mexico’s National Team since 2005, with 85 caps to his name. He and Mexico will almost certainly be in Russia in June.


Radja Nainggolan is one of those players who never seemed to get the respect of his national team. Like Philippe Mexes before him with France, Belgium almost “penalized” Radja for playing in Serie A (and for Roma) rather than the EPL (or some Meelan team). Add in his sometimes questionable behavior, and there you go, not too many caps for one of the world’s best (oh sorry, Fellaini is much better).

Anyway, if Ninja and Roberto Martinez can see eye to eye, Radja would without a doubt be one of Belgium’s most important players in their World Cup 2018 quest. The “golden generation” is in its prime and it’s seemingly now or never for this Belgium. It’s now or never for Radja and his NT career as well.


Lukasz Skorupski, if still a Roma player, will almost certainly be deputizing ex-Roma keeper Wojciech Szczęsny in Russia come June. Poland sit 6 clear atop UEFA group E, and if Skorupski manages decent minutes at Roma or wherever else this season, the spot as second or third keeper alongside presumably Lukasz Fabianski is his to lose.

“I’m Good...but where’s the rest of the team?”


Kevin Strootman! Dutch Jesuus and Dutch NT captain! He will be there! But will his nation? After missing out on Euro 2016, the Netherlands are once again in jeopardy of crashing out of major tournament qualifying. They currently sit three points behind France and Sweden in UEFA group A. It looks like it will come down to if Stroots and Co. can get the best of Zlatan(less) FC over the final four matches (and through the play-offs) for Kevin to get to his first ever World Cup.

Real Madrid CF v AS Roma - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: Second Leg Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images


Only one of Edin Dzeko or Kostas Manolas will probably have a shot at World Cup 2018. Their respective nations are in a tussle with Belgium for the guaranteed and play-off qualifying spots. With four matches left to play it’s: Belgium 16, Greece 12, and Bosnia 11, currently leaving Edin Dzeko’s men at home. Both Greece and Bosnia face two easy opponents and also have Belgium at home, with those matches almost certain to decide the fate of the group. Here’s to Kostas and Edin getting along and one of their nations winning in the play-off round!


Aleksandar Kolarov has made over 65 appearances for Serbia, who for now sit comfortably atop UEFA group D with Ireland. Just like Maicon, this will be Kolarov’s first season in Rome. He’ll be a fullback returning to Italy from Manchester City. If he can replicate the form of 2013/14 Maicon this season (and potentially beyond that), Roma are looking at a hell of a bargain. Serbia just need to hope to win the group over Ireland, or they will have to face the tricky play-off round.


Cegniz Ünder has 4 caps for Turkey to his name in his young career. The most recent came in June, where he scored against Kosovo in a World Cup qualifying win. The win was crucial, as Croatia, Iceland, Turkey, and Ukraine are all currently just 2 points apart in UEFA group I, with four matches left to play. Ünder’s minutes at Roma these first few weeks could be critical to his potential call-ups/match time in the remaining qualifiers. If he and Turkey succeed, the youngster could be looking at his first World Cup come June.

Fighting for a Spot


Federico Fazio recently fell back into the good graces of the NT call-up gods, featuring (and scoring!) for Argentina in a friendly back in June. Call it what you want; Argentina not exactly being a hot bed of defending talent, a new coach, meaningless matches, or Fazio having an excellent 2016/17 for Roma, but the call-up seemed well deserved. If Fazio can keep up the appearances and form this year, he could very well be off to his first World Cup, undoubtedly a huge career accomplishment. That, of course, is if Argentina can continue their climb from the grave in CONMEBOL qualifying. They currently sit in the play-off spot, just one point ahead of Ecuador with four to play.


Rick Karsdorp is obviously in the same situation as Kevin Strootman above: will his nation even qualify for the World Cup?! Forgetting that whole important piece of information for a second, this season in a Roma shirt could be critical for Rick if he wishes to make the World Cup with the Netherlands. His country isn’t the deepest at right back, making the young Roma player an attractive option for both the future and potentially now. Once recovered from his injury, a quick start in a Roma shirt will be critical for Karsdorp to first unseat Bruno Peres, and then look towards a potential spot at the World Cup.

Italy v Uruguay - International Friendly Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images


Lorenzo Pellegrini recently received his first cap for the senior team, this before securing his move back to Roma from Sassuolo. With solid minutes this year, he should hopefully have a shot as one of the reserve midfielders for the Azzurri.

Stephan el Shaarawy has 21 caps to his name for Italy, including being called up for the most recent round of matches. Like Pellegrini, his ability to get minutes and produce in the time he is given will not only help Roma, but also help his chance of making the World Cup roster.

Emerson Palmieri is a sad, sad story. The Brazilian born LB tore his ACL in the final match of last season. To make matters worse, he had just been given his first call-up to the Italian National Team, which he would obviously thus miss out on due to the injury. Like Florenzi, Emerson’s health is a huge question mark. Unlike Alessandro, Emerson has never been capped for Italy and has much less experience in the national set-up. If the Brazilitalian can make a strong come back for Roma, he could potentially be one of five Roma players for the Azzurri in Russia.


Who Will Win the Maicon Award for 2018? (those who are almost guaranteed a call-up not included)

This poll is closed

  • 20%
    Alessandro Florenzi
    (84 votes)
  • 0%
    Lukasz Skorupski
    (2 votes)
  • 15%
    Cegniz Ünder
    (66 votes)
  • 10%
    Federico Fazio
    (42 votes)
  • 3%
    Rick Karsdorp
    (15 votes)
  • 10%
    Lorenzo Pellegrini
    (44 votes)
  • 28%
    Stephan el Shaarawy
    (116 votes)
  • 10%
    Emerson Palmieri
    (44 votes)
413 votes total Vote Now