With only one victory in their past seven matches, Roma are (or have been) in a veritable free fall for nearly two months now. By sprinkling in losses to Real Madrid, Udinese and Viktoria Plzen with draws to Inter Milan and Cagliari, Eusebio Di Francesco's side has at least been diverse in their struggles. And with his job seemingly on the line every week, EDF has managed to escape the Sword of Pallotta, first through a thrilling comeback against Genoa and last week by not losing that badly against Juventus. We keep a low bar around here and wouldn't have it any other way.
If dropping points in six of seven matches, and falling to tenth place in the process, weren't enough to do it, chances are Di Francesco's job is secure through the end of the season. But—and there is always a but—wouldn't it be poetic just if the team that sent EDF to the unemployment line was the very club with which he made his managerial name?
Roma v. Sassuolo: December 26th. 18:00 CET/12:00 EST. Stadio Olimpico, ROma.
Ordinarily, that's not something we'd have to entertain, as (ironically enough) Sassuolo have fallen off a bit from their EDF heights. Sure, they still have Domenico Berardi, but the rest of the Neroverdi's firepower (namely Matteo Politano and Gregoire Defrel) have been sold off, resulting in some decidedly middling performances.
Despite all that, they've been on level pegging with the much more glamorous Roma side. They both have six wins, Roma has 29 goals to Sassuolo's 27, Roma has conceded 23, Sassuolo has conceded 23. Doesn't get much more similar than that. However, when your best player is the perpetually disappointing Domenico Berardi, those numbers are pretty much what one would expect, but when you throw around as much cash as Roma does, those figures just won't cut it.
EDF and Roma have lucked out, though. With six points separating fourth place Lazio and twelfth place Parma, the fight for Italy's final Champions League spot is about as thick as it gets; certainly tighter than we've seen in recent seasons, and it's precisely that spread of mediocrity that has kept Roma's completely unwarranted dreams afloat.
Whatever power play Monchi has thrown James Pallotta's way in favor of EDF seems to have worked thus far, but one has to wonder—if Roma loses tomorrow, and falls below tenth place, then what?
How long can they tolerate this free fall? Each passing loss pushes Roma further away from the Champions League, while potentially pushing the likes of Cengiz Ünder, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Kostas Manolas or even Nicolo Zaniolo out the door. The stakes are real, but Roma seems to be ignoring them.
A win tomorrow, along with some help above them on the table, could give EDF yet another lifeline as we head into 2019, but who among us is confident Roma can even manage that at this point?