When most big clubs play a team like Cagliari, a club in 13th place in Serie A with signs pointing to a further slide down the standings, more casual fans don’t worry too much about the match. If they live on the west coast of America, they might even skip the 9:00 AM Saturday start time. After all, Saturday morning cartoons are on, and somebody’s probably going to seal the game for the big club eventually, right?
Being a Roma fan offers no such peace of mind. Every match can feel like a battle between two equally-matched sides; Roma can put away a superteam like Barcelona one night, only to barely squeak past a side like Genoa a week later. I guess that may be the price we pay for having such wonderful colors on our kits.
This match could and should be different. Cagliari are not exactly a giant of Serie A, and in addition they are short a few key players through suspension and injury, including Nicolo Barella and Lucas Castro. Yes, Roma will be missing Lorenzo Pellegrini, Daniele De Rossi, Rick Karsdorp, Edin Džeko, Stephan El Shaarawy, and Ante Coric (boy, that’s a long list), but that shouldn’t change what result the Giallorossi are looking for on Saturday.
That lack of healthy attackers and attacking midfielders means that Roma will most likely put forward a rather young lineup once again, with Nicolo Zaniolo and Patrik Schick getting even more time to prove their worth while their elders recuperate. For Zaniolo, this can be one more opportunity to show that maybe, just maybe, he should be a key part of the midfield rotation even at age nineteen; meanwhile, Schick is in dire need of a goal, and not just to start paying back Roma’s huge investment in him.
Looking beyond the upcoming match-day, Eusebio Di Francesco’s job looks to be secure for now. Following Roma’s draw with Inter, President James Pallotta even went as far as saying that “Eusebio’s position has always been safe.” That might change with a poor match against Cagliari, however. As much as Pallotta may wish to give Di Francesco a long leash, Roma’s notoriously intense tifosi will most likely not accept more of the same from EDF for much longer. Once EDF loses the tifosi for good, it’s only a matter of time before upper management sees the writing on the wall as well.
Roma is a team with ambitions of deep Champions League runs and a slightly-more-full trophy cabinet. To get there, games like this have to be guaranteed wins. Roma on the whole has never played well against the minnows, but this Roma in particular has struggled to maintain quality against weaker opponents. Even if you look past the 1-0 loss to sixteenth place Udinese, Roma this season has lost or drawn against SPAL, Bologna, and Atalanta, all teams below tenth place in the Serie A table right now. Simply put, that has to change immediately if Roma wishes to be in the top four year in and year out.
Will Roma ever consistently beat the minnows?
This poll is closed
Yes, of course, and it starts on Saturday.
Yes, but it will take quite a while, and probably a new manager.
If you think this has a happy ending, you haven’t been paying attention.