To say that Fiorentina’s world was turned upside down by the passing of Davide Astori would be a gross understatement. The death of Astori was so sudden, catching the entire league, if not the entire country, off guard that many people probably still haven’t properly mourned. In that light, it wouldn’t have been hard to imagine Fiorentina entering into a talespin. It would have been completely and utterly justifiable; you don’t recover from things like that so quickly.
While we obviously can’t peer into the collective consciousness of an entire football team, Fiorentina has rallied ‘round the family, winning five straight matches by a collective 8-1 scoreline. I in no way mean to trivialize anything they’ve gone through, but they’ve certainly handled this as well as anyone possibly imagined.
Roma v. Fiorentina: April 7, 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
Putting aside their disappointing night in Catalan for a moment, Roma remain one of the most in-form clubs in Serie A, winning four of their past six matches. With Roma one point ahead of fourth place Inter Milan and Fiorentina only four points adrift of Italy’s final Europa League spot, both sides have ample reasons to maintain those streaks.
Before we delve into this match, let’s take a look back at the night of Gerson’s career.
November 5, 2017: Fiorentina 2, Roma 4
This was your prototypical 21st century Roma match—score early, relinquish the lead then grab it back late in the second half. It doesn’t matter who’s running the show—Spalletti, Ranieri, Di Francesco, Andreazzoli—this always happens with Roma. On this particular evening, SES and Gerson started things off with a fine exhibition of EDF-football—a slow buildup that produces multiple scoring outlets in one flourish. The Viola responded back almost immediately before Gerson took the lead back, only to see Jordan Veretout level it again in only the ninth minute. Fortunately, Kostas Manolas and Diego Perotti doubled Roma’s lead in the second half, giving the Giallorossi their second straight win over Fiorentina.
Looking for a Barcelona Bounce-Back
I loathe moral victories in sports, but Wednesday’s loss to Barcelona at the Camp Nou was just that. Outgunned and short-manned, Roma were the aggressor that evening, at least defensively, and put in a solid 50 minute or so stretch. Were it not for a couple unfortunate bounces off Daniele De Rossi and Kostas Manolas, not to mention some shitty officiating, Roma may have made that match quite interesting.
So, one can only hope they carry that sense of purpose over to tomorrow’s match because they’re equally as short-staffed and facing a team with it’s own added emotional oomph. For the third straight match Roma will be lacking the sublime services of Cengiz Ünder, who remains shelved with some sort of knee sprain. Joining Ünder in the trainer’s room is Diego Perotti, who suffered a calf injury against Barcelona midweek.
In their stead, look for Gerson to reprise his starring role from the first fixture, as he’s likely to fill in at right wing for Ünder, with El Shaarawy manning the left of Edin Dzeko. Beyond that it should be business as usual, as Radja Nainggolan has been deemed fit, though whether or not he actually plays remains to be seen.
Inter and Lazio have relatively light fixtures this weekend, away to Torino and Udinese respectively, so Roma absolutely has to win this match. Advancing to the quarter finals of the Champions League is a tremendous achievement no doubt, but failing to even make the competition next year would be disastrous.
Roma have eight matches remaining and only a three point cushion over fifth place Lazio. Basking in the glory of the Champions League or wallowing in Europa League purgatory next year will be on the line each and every week until May.
No excuses, no nonsense. Roma has a job to do.