Who: Fiorentina v Roma
What: Serie A; Match Day 11
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi; Florence
When: 1:00 PM EST
How (to watch): ESPN+ (USA)
On Saturday evening in Florence, Roma needs to live in the moment. I Lupi can’t be caught dwelling on Sunday’s match when Dries Mertens denied them three point at the death in Naples. On the same token, the team can’t get caught looking ahead to Wednesday’s potentially decisive Champions League match at CSKA Moscow. Roma needs to live in the moment because it’s in desperate need of three points.
The Giallorossi have had a roller coaster ten weeks to open the Serie A campaign with a few highs and far too many lows. Roma currently finds itself in a mess near the middle of the Serie A table; tied with Saturday’s opponents, Fiorentina, along with Sampdaoria and Sassuolo on 15 points. A loss could see them fall lower in the table, while a win could create a little space between themselves and the aforementioned trio.
The five dropped points in their last two league matches against SPAL and Napoli has seen Roma fall further behind Inter and Lazio, while also being leapfrogged by Milan in the race for the top 4. Roma currently sit 7 points behind third place Inter and three behind Milan and Lazio for the last Champions League qualification spot. The season is still long with its many ebbs and flows, but Roma can ill afford more dropped points, if they hope to remain in Champions League contention.
As we’ve discussed here throughout the week, Roma was dealt a massive injury blow when Daniele De Rossi went down with a knee issue just before the half in Naples. He will miss out on Saturday’s match and was all but confirmed out for Wednesday’s CL fixture. EDF and his players will have to find a way to adapt without Capitano Futuro in two fixtures that could have a big say in the path that Roma's season will go down. Whether that means trying to slot Bryan Cristante, Lorenzo Pellegrini or someone else in alongside Steven N’Zonzi or completely changing formations to the personnel available remains to be seen.
The options in attack will be more plentiful than last week with Justin Kluivert and Javier Pastore returning from injury layoffs. However, it’s still unknown if Kostas Manolas will be risked or saved until Wednesday, after coming off limping in Naples. There have also been some rumblings of a surprise Nicolò Zaniolo start in the trequartista role if EDF decides to play Pellegrini deeper in midfield in a 4-2-3-1. The formation and starting XI at this point remains a mystery.
What isn't a mystery is the fact that Roma desperately needs to find a way to leave Florence with three points. The task will be tough against a talented Viola side that features the likes of Giovani Simeone and Federino Chiesa, among others. However, for Roma to be considered a true contender in the Champions League race and separate themselves from the pretenders, it’s games like these that they need to win. With or without its star players.
Roma need to live in the present to avoid a letdown. If they can’t, they’ll likely be rueing the past in a few weeks and the future could be filled with plenty of uncertainty.