Every year, April is a time of beginnings and endings. The weather lets up, letting us finally go out and enjoy the new year for the first time. On the other hand, this is when the end of a long season comes over the horizon and into view. As the weather heats up for the beginning of the summer, Serie A heats up for the end of the league’s season. This is an especially exciting time in Serie A because all that matters is where teams sit in the table after the last goal has been scored and the last whistle has been blown. And, more than any year in recent memory, the range of possible outcomes for Roma is staggering.
Roma has only eight more games on the books (six in Serie A, two in the Champions League), and after these games are played, we could be anywhere from finishing 5th in the league—out of the Champions League for this year and next—to preparing for the most important club game in the world with a guaranteed spot in next year’s group stage already in the bag. Best of all, it is all in our hands. Roma has earned the right of self-determination as the best possible outcomes don’t depend on anyone else playing badly, only that we play well.
Roma v. Genoa: April 18, 20:45 CET/2:45 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
Unfortunately, Roma’s performances have been particularly streaky recently, with our Serie A form earning us only two points from the last three league games. This is not the time to hit a cold spell. Roma, Lazio, and Inter are all within one point in the table with only two remaining Champions League spots up for grabs, which means one team is going to be out of luck and out of €20 - €30 million. Now more than ever, the team needs to demonstrate composure and a strong mentality.
Coincidentally, this moment comes as we prepare to play round two against Genoa—the follow up to a game that was a case study in how to completely lack all composure. In case you don’t remember, THAT was the game when Daniele De Rossi decided to single-handedly turn a win into a draw by inexplicably slapping Gianluca Lapadula in the face in the penalty box. Undoubtedly, De Rossi and co. will be remembering this incident as they prepare to host Genoa, and hopefully EDF can use this memory as extra motivation for them to keep their cool tomorrow for the full 90 minutes.
Roma may be aided by the fact that Genoa will have less motivation to get a result than usual. Currently, they sit 12th in the table, 11 points above the drop and 8 points below the top of the table. They don’t have a lot of upward or downward mobility. Given that it is also towards the end of the season, they may be a bit gassed without as much motivation as Roma has to overcome it and fight for each free ball. On the other hand, the lack of pressure could free them to play more relaxed and creative football. We will have to wait and see how they respond to their predicament.
Regardless, creativity has not been Genoa’s forte thus far as they have only netted 25 times this season, with only Sassuolo scoring fewer. On the other hand, they have only conceded 31 goals, giving them the 5th strongest defense in the league. This could be worrying for Roma since we tend to struggle most against teams who force a boring, congested game. But, other than the 1-1 debacle earlier this season, Roma won the five previous matches between the two sides.
With that said, Roma need to take advantage of every weakness they can find. A massive 73% of Genoa’s goals against come in the 2nd half. In fact, Genoa actually has a goal difference of +/-0 for the first half of games this season, with most of their goals against coming between the 46th and 75th minutes. This is also the window of time when Roma performs best, scoring 19 goals and only conceding 8. If the two teams go into the half deadlocked, don’t fret because the best opportunities may still be to come.
This may not be the most glamorous of matchups, but this could be one of the most important of the remaining six Serie A games. We have a run of four games against bottom-half sides before facing Juventus in the penultimate match of the season. With so much riding on the remaining games, there will be plenty of pressure on us to perform in the last few games of the season. We need to make progress now so there is less pressure on the future matches and so that our outcomes can remain firmly in our hands.