We’re more than 24 hours past Roma’s, shall we say, difficult first leg against Liverpool in the semifinals of the Champions League and the sting of that loss has yet to subside. And as if Roma’s 5-2 embarrassment at Anfield weren’t bad enough, the Giallorossi received a bit of bad news from the training room today, injuries to Diego Perotti and Kevin Strootman, each of whom are now in doubt for this weekend’s critical domestic fixture against Chievo, not to mention next week’s return leg against Liverpool.
And given all the longballs they witnessed last night, one would assume they’ve each got a crick in their neck, but Perotti has actually been sidelined by the always niggling ankle injury, while Strootman has some sort of rib contusion on his right side, but my sources tell me that Strootman sleeps on his left side, so we’re good.
In all seriousness, it’s impossible not to view these injuries without next week’s return leg against Liverpool in mind, but let’s not commit the sin of neglecting the Flying Donkeys. Lest you forget, Roma are in the thick of an intense Champions League chase among Italy’s third through fifth place teams, with Roma, Lazio and Inter Milan separated by a mere point. Let me say that again—a point. One measly little point could cost any one of these clubs tens of millions of dollars and untold adulation, so any assumptions Roma might make against Chievo could stop this project dead in its tracks once again.
And if we’re being brutally honest, the Perotti injury is far more concerning than Strootman’s. As we saw late in the second half, the inclusion of Perotti was transformative (for lack of a better word) for Roma’s sputtering attack, while Strootman was vanilla at best against Mohamed Salah and the rest of the Reds. Given his influence on Roma’s attack during his 24 minutes or so on the pitch, it’s safe to assume he’ll garner a larger role during the return leg, but Strootman can easily be replaced by Maxime Gonalons or Lorenzo Pellegrini. So if one were to prioritize the good hot tub in the training room or the coldest ice in the fridge, give it to Diego, full stop.
While the Chievo match is arguably as important as the second leg of the Champions League semifinals, Eusebio Di Francesco would be wise to err on the side of caution with both players against Chievo on Saturday. A lineup featuring Stephan El Shaarawy instead of Perotti or Pellegrini in place of Strootman is certainly capable of getting the job done against 17th place Chievo.
Roma seldom does things easy, and if yesterday’s result and the ensuing injuries are a harbinger of things to come, the final few weeks of the season are going to be arduous.