As Roma fans, we’ve probably always got one eye on the league table and the other on the fixture list, always looking for an advantage or potential pitfall. While this isn’t the healthiest of choices, there are times during the year when it’s necessary. Now is one of those times. Although Inter Milan did us a favor by losing to Torino today, Roma, Inter and Lazio remain separated by three measly points. Three points between the glory of the Champions League and the shame and embarrassment of the Europa League. Three points between keeping your players and selling your players. And that three point gap could shrink even further if Lazio gets the job done against Udinese later today.
With that in mind, I thought we’d take a quick look at Roma’s seven remaining fixtures, looking at form, prior results and likely outcomes.
Lazio v. Roma: April 15th
As we just mentioned, if Lazio wins today that puts them even with Roma on 60 points, which should make for the most intense derby since the Coppa Italia final several years ago. Roma won the first fixture 2-1 thanks to a PK from Diego Perotti and a follow up 53rd minute goal from Radja Nainggolan. Both Roman sides have been a mixed bag over the past six matches, so this one is nearly impossible to predict, but this six pointer will surely provide an emotional lift to whoever wins. Of course, it could end in a draw and make the ensuing six weeks even crazier.
Roma v. Genoa: April 18th
Oof, not much of respite after the derby, eh? This one should be a gimme considering Genoa’s general, well, shitiness—they’re in 12th place and have won only one of their past six matches—but then you look back to the first fixture, the infamous Daniele De Rossi slap of Gianluca Lapadula. “Slapadula” was the first real controversy of the season, as DDR’s redcard gifted Genoa a penalty, robbing Roma of two points in the process. Two points that may have made this article unnecessary. Roma should win this one, but will they?
SPAL 2013 v. Roma: April 21st
Three matches in six days. It doesn’t matter who they’re playing, for a team so lacking in depth, that’s a challenge. Still, this is SPAL we’re talking about, they’re in 17th place and Roma waxed them 3-1 back in December. Once again, Roma would seem the favorites in this, but it is a road fixture against a side mired in an intense relegation battle, so we can’t assume anything.
Roma v. Chievo: April 28th
Chievo are currently giving Napoli fits as I type this, so one can never assume anything against the Flying Donkeys, who just have a habit of sticking around the middle of the table, doing just enough to be annoying—look no further than the scoreless draw these two sides played to during the winter. It’s not hard to imagine that scoreline repeating itself, even in the friendly confines of the Olimpico. Be wary of this match.
Cagliari v. Roma: May 6th
Roma’s first match in May, by which time hopefully it won’t be snowing anymore in large swaths of the United States. Cagliari is another team against whom you can’t make any assumptions. While Roma has won five of the past six against their Sardinian counterparts, Cagliari always plays Roma tough. Case in point, Roma’s 1-0 victory from December, in which a 94th minute goal from Federico Fazio made the difference—this is probably the stickiest wicket remaining on Roma’s fixture list.
Roma v. Juventus: May 13th
Roma’s record against their ugliest nemesis has improved somewhat in recent years, as they’ve actually won two of the past six encounters, and while they will most likely have the Scudetto secured by then, this is still Juventus we’re talking about; they don’t lay down for anyone, least of all Roma.
Sassuolo vs. Roma: May 20th
While I sincerely hope Roma’s Champions League fate won’t be hanging in the balance on the final day of the season, wouldn’t it just be so Roma for them to lose 3rd/4th place to Eusebio Di Francesco’s former team? Can’t you just envision a 93rd minute winner from Matteo Politano, too? So for the love of god, Roma, wrap this up before then!
So that’s it, seven matches and 21 points are all that stand between Roma and returning to the Champions League again. If I had to venture a guess, I’d say they need at least 15 of those to finish in the top four. If we chalk up the Juve fixture as a loss, the remaining six matches are entirely winnable for Roma, but we still want to account for an odd draw (Cagliari or Chievo being my guess), so EDF’s side should be able to walk away with at least 15 to 17 points on paper.
So let’s hope that Diego Perotti and Cengiz Ünder get healthy soon and that Alisson’s little swoon proves to be an aberration, because Roma needs all hands on deck to navigate these seven seas.