Roma need anything but a Lazio win; Lazio need anything but a loss. There’s enough grey area for players to start thinking about their own concerns before the last league game at Sassuolo. Only 6 Roma players have made the provisional squads for their countries, and three of those names - Nainggolan, Perotti and Skorupski - could still be cut from the final 23-man lists.
None of this is EDF’s main concern heading into this weekend, but it undoubtedly influences his choices when picking the best side tomorrow.
Alisson Out, Skorupski Ready
Friday saw Alisson pick up the two dozenth muscle-fatigue related injury of Roma’s season. Rather than take any risks with Alisson’s upcoming World Cup campaign on the horizon, the keeper is being left out of the squad entirely. In his place, Skorupski starts his first league game of the season against Sassuolo, and possibly his last ever league appearance in a Roma jersey.
There’s nothing to say about Skorupski that hasn’t already been said: very capable keeper who’s unlucky to have signed to a club where the guy with the no. 1 jersey is just... better. Nonetheless this is Skorupski’s chance to remind Poland why he should definitely be on the plane to Russia.
Ünder Out With Bruised Ribs, Fazio Doubtful
This week also saw Cengiz Ünder sit out training from Thursday onwards, with a knock to his ribs. Ünder even had to cancel his appearance at the AS Roma Store for the unveiling of the new Roma jersey on public sale. He’s borderline for tomorrow, as the options for right wing are already pretty thin without him.
Speaking of Cengiz, it seems like Roma-fever has definitely intoxicated him for good. Only at the beginning of the season, he mentioned most clubs being a stepping stone to the big time of the Barcelonas in this world.
This weekend, he’s come out with a declaration of love for the Giallorossi.
“One of my dreams is to win a title with this great team,” Cengiz told Sky Sport Italia on his Roma ambitions. “Coming to Roma has been one of the best decisions I’ve made in my entire life. It was the right choice. I’ve signed a contract for five years and I’m happy to stay here. I’ve adapted now and there’s absolutely no chance of talking about another transfer. I’m very happy to be here.”
... We knew that Roma air (and maybe the women) would get to him, eventually.
EDF also mentioned Fazio is doubtful, but there’s been no news on what kind of injury has hit the big Argentinian. It’s very unlikely Fazio would risk further injury before the summer. That leaves a couple of key changes in the Roma defence already for tomorrow’s game.
Beware of Mateo Politano
We’re only a couple of weeks removed from Sassuolo’s Mateo Politano assuring the media where his head was at: closing out games for Sassuolo. The right-winger’s contribution to Sassuolo’s end-of-season run-in is the single biggest reason the Neroverdi survived relegation.
“For now I want to finish the season in the best way possible,” Politano told the Gazzetta dello Sport, “then I’ll speak with the club about my future. I feel ready to make the step up to a big club, but first I want to reach double figures in goals and the games coming up against Inter and Roma are a big motivation to do that.”
He backed that up with an under-the-wall free-kick goal to break the deadlock against Inter at the San Siro, bringing his current scoring tally to seven league goals in the last nine league games.
Will he do the same against hometown club Roma?
Late Evening Kick-Off
Tomorrow’s round of games will see the dead-rubber matches being settled in the early afternoon, before the relegation battle reaches its own conclusion from 18.00 PM CET onwards. Then it’s left to Roma, Lazio and Inter to see out the season with the 20.45 kickoff slot.
Unfortunately, that means you either have to choose between watching Roma or watching the Lazio-Inter battle. Unless you have two screens.
Highlights from EDF’s Pre-Match Presser
Roma are already mathematically qualified for next season’s Champions League, but there’s still a third place finish on the line. How important is the mental approach for tomorrow’s game?
EDF: “To reach third, we have to face a side that’s truly in good health because in the last ten games they’ve only lost once. It won’t be easy. They’ll be very focused and want to give a good showing, but my boys will be too. They have to have the desire to play it like a big game.”
On the theme of the Royal Wedding, would you ask a present of Monchi: to keep Alisson for another year?
EDF: “Well I’m very calm on this because, in the end, we have both Monchi and De Sanctis who can play in goal instead of Alisson. But all jokes aside, football - you all know - has no certainties. But it’s my feeling that Alisson is here to stay at Roma, and I’d be very happy to keep seeing both his growth and the team’s growth.”
What is the most important thing this season given to the club that they can carry into next season?
EDF: “I believe it’s the awareness. The fact that we’ve gotten the public closer to the team. The feeling that I get and the team, the desire to belong to something. I believe we’ve grown in this season but we shouldn’t stop, because for me it’s not enough. I’ll say it for the umpteenth time, it has to be a starting point for our attitude, our way of doing things, in our approach right until the last game. There’s the beauty of having seen enthuasism from everybody, and I think that’s a starting point for next season.”
Berardi and Politano are two players who you’ve never hidden your admiration for and could even coach again...
EDF: “I don’t want to talk about players who aren’t playing for Roma, because I don’t want to give you the headlines. I’ll say only that I admire many others players at Sassuolo, for which if I had to nominate one I’d mention the captain Magnanelli, who’s been the symbol or the emblem that I’d carry into any squad for making people understand how someone can arrive at a certain level, with the right mentality, dedication and the ability to always be on it. But Mateo and Domenico, those are two players that I’ve seen grown from the Primavera, to which I’m very tied to. They’re two players of talent.”
What was the biggest regret or the biggest disappointment of this season? And for Lazio-Inter, which is the team that deserves the Champions League more? Will you be supporting one of the two?
EDF: “The biggest disappointment to me were the preconceptions, in general. You know what I’m talking about. I don’t like the preconceptions which were mostly part of the beginning of the season. As far as on the pitch goes, the period around the end of December to January were the kind of difficulties I definitely wouldn’t have expected. Lazio-Inter? Right now I think it’s in Lazio’s hands, they have two possible good outcomes out of three. As far the result, objectively it doesn’t interest me. Let’s say, on the facts and numbers, our future is in our hands.”
Coric and Marcano seem very close to becoming Roma players...
EDF: “Didn’t I say before I wouldn’t talk about Roma players? That was a nice try. When the moment arrives that a player is signed by Roma, I can speak on them from a technical level and give a judgement or explain why. This week, now we’ve reached the goal of Champions League football, we’ve begun talking a little bit about a couple of players, yes. But to talk about names right now, no. You’ve written much about it and often you know even more than me. Sometimes I should really ask you what’s true or not. You’re all very well informed, which is only right, since it’s your work. But I can’t give you any answers on players that don’t play for Roma.”