Don’t look now, but Roma have cobbled together a little bit of a winning streak, grabbing two straight domestic wins over Frosinone and Lazio, following that up with a 5-0 undressing of Viktoria Plzen. Thanks to a change in formation, Eusebio Di Francesco’s crew looks reborn, scoring goals seemingly at will and finding new life for Lorenzo Pellegrini, who once looked doomed to life in calcio purgatory, with the club desperately trying to find a role for him. In Javier Pastore’s absence, Pellegrini has thrived in his more attacking role, and the results have followed in kind.
However, as we so often say, you overlook an opponent at your own peril. Sure, Empoli is 18th place, and sure Roma has beaten them of the past six matches, and sure Empoli has only scored five goals thus far...okay, they are kind of terrible, so Roma should win this one easily, but one simply never knows.
Empoli v. Roma: October 6th. 20:30 CET/2:30 EDT. Stadio Castellani, Empoli.
Given Roma’s current form, which is largely based on that change in tactics, not to mention the gulf in class between these two sides, the only small matter of doubt is the extent to which EDF will rotate his squad ahead of the trip north.
With Daniele De Rossi likely to make the cut this week, the pivot of DDR and Steven Nzonzi should continue their ascension (seriously, how great are they together?), while the continued absence of Pastore should ensure that Pellegrini remains in his newfound role as a trequartista (of sorts); and honestly, even if Pastore were healthy, I’m not sure you can bump Pellegrini from the starting eleven, he’s been that crucial to Roma’s recent reversal of fortune.
While the optimist in me (yes, he does exist) would love to see Lorenzo’s can-you-believe-they’re-not-really-related-brother Luca Pellegrini give Aleksandar Kolarov some rest, to date EDF hasn’t given us reason to believe he’s ready to throw Luca to the wolves, but doesn’t this seem like an ideal time for Luca to get his first Serie A start? Empoli don’t really have enough talent to threaten Roma’s left flank, so even if he stumbles, one would imagine they can cover that hole.
In any case, tomorrow is simply about execution and continuity; another week in the 4-2-3-1 should ensure that Roma are able to iron out any wrinkles in their new duds.