At long last, Serie A has returned. After two weeks in the wilderness, Roma and the rest of her Italian compatriots will return to civilization this weekend, back to the land of red cards, exotic and emphatic hand gestures, and officials with questionable ethics. It’s a weird and wonderful place, and I’m so glad that it’s back. Fortunately for us, Roma have a bit of a soft landing with a home match against 14th place SPAL 2013.
When we last left Roma, they were fresh off a two-nil victory on the road against Empoli, their third straight domestic win. Taken together with their decimation of Viktoria Plzen, it sure seemed like Eusebio Di Francesco had worked out the kinks that plagued the Giallorossi throughout September. With a simple simple change in formation, EDF unleashed Roma’s inner beast. Led by a resurgent Lorenzo Pellegrini, Roma’s attack found the direction, purpose and results that had so bewildered them to start the season.
Roma v. SPAL 2013: October 20th. 15:00 CET/9:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
However, since this is Roma we’re talking about, things still aren’t that easy. Thanks to a rash of injuries, EDF will be down Daniele De Rossi, Diego Perotti and Rick Karsdorp. While the last name on that list is for all intents and purposes irrelevant, Perotti and De Rossi are central pieces of the puzzle, but even without those names on the squad list, one would think (or hope) that Roma has enough horses to win this race.
In place of De Rossi, look for Steven Nzonzi to pair with Bryan Cristante. This look, bonding the summer’s two most expensive signings together, could be a boon for Cristante, who desperately needs to string together a run of solid matches. Now, obviously we have no idea how Cristante feels about his current role, but given what he achieved at Atalanta last year, becoming a bit player for Roma has to be a bit jarring. Nzonzi has been stellar this season, and his steady hand should give Cristante some margin for error, and hopefully pave the way for a more consistent role between his veteran colleagues.
Outside of that, it should be business as usual for Roma: Edin Dzeko ahead of Cengiz Ünder, Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy, with the usual crew at the back.
There’s no secret to this match on Saturday. SPAL are a woeful side, having scored only six goals on the season, winning three matches (somehow) while dropping five. Roma can, should and absolutely has to win this match on Saturday. Per usual, Juve is running away with the league, but the logjam behind them figures to loosen up a bit as we head towards the winter.
Three easy points? Probably. Three necessary points? In the words of Ned Flanders, absotutely neighborino.