Well, it seems a lot can happen in one week, that’s for sure. While I was working on my Belgian tan under the bright Spanish sun, enjoying beaches, cocktails, fresh sea food and the Ibizia nightlife, life has been rather rough for the club AS Roma and its fanbase. Three major things happened in seven days:
- Roma inexplicably gave up a 2-0 lead against bottom side Chievo
- Roma got hammered 3-0 by Real in the Champions League
- Roma lost 2-0 and suffered against a Bologna side that didn’t score a single goal before the Giallorossi visited the Dall’Ara.
Other things that occured while I was away: A row between Florenzi and Dzeko in training, president Pallotta who said he was ‘disgusted’ after Bologna, the club went into training retreat at Trigoria, a huge confrontation between Di Francesco and some senior members of the squad (De Rossi, Kolarov, Florenzi,...), harsh words from Ranieri and Prandelli for the Roma management and I’m probably missing some other fires that had to be extinguished. On top of that, legendary servant Giorgio Rossi passed away at the age of 88. He spent 55 years working for the club.
Oof, I guess I chose the right week to go on holiday.
When I left, Roma was already in a worrisome and uneasy position, losing at Milan and trailing 1-3 at home against a B team from Atalanta. Actually, a 89’ minute goal from Dzeko in Torino is our only highlight this season so far. And we’re almost October. Not exactly the start every fan had hoped for. And certainly not Pallotta, Monchi or Eusebio. They already had all the pieces in place by July so they had an entire preseason to prepare for 2018-2019. I think you can talk about a failure so far.
Juventus and Napoli are still killing it in the league like the Summer didn’t happen and are first and second placed. Lazio started badly but are now suddenly fifth. Inter are climbing back after two impressive wins in the CL and Serie A, Fiorentina is doing nicely... Only AC Milan and its trainer/players are in the somewhat same dreadful position like Roma.
Luckily for Roma there are now three consecutive home games coming up. Well, ‘luckily’... Methinks there will be a rather hostile environment at the Olimpico. There’s the always heated and tense derby this weekend against Lazio and then a CL midweek game against Viktoria Plzen but first up is Frosinone Calcio tomorrow evening. Actually you can see this as a derby as well. The city of Frosinone is situated in the Lazio region, about 70km from Rome.
The club got promoted last season and it’s only their second campaign in Serie A. In 2015-2016 they spent one season in top tier but finished 19th so it was a one way ticket to Serie B again. Right now they’re back and stronger than ever.... Well not exactly. In short: They’re shite. This is probably the easiest game of the season for Roma, at home against a side that has one point in five games, zero goals scored and 12 conceded. To be fair, they already played the likes of Atalanta, Lazio, Sampdoria and
Ronaldo Torino Juventus.
Their attack is silent as the grave, their defence is in shambles… Hmm, reminds me of a certain Roman side... Just kiddin’, although AS Roma isn’t doing a lot better lately. Seven goals scored, nine goals conceded aren’t the stats of a club aiming for the CL spots. In every department there are doubts. Manolas, Fazio, Kolarov in defence, Pastore, Nzonzi and Pellegrini in midfield, Ünder and Dzeko up front... They all have gone through a rough patch. At least Olsen seems to finally show his skills but he can’t win games on his own.
Frosinone looks the ideal sparring partner for Roma to gain some much needed confidence. There are no injuries or suspensions so EDF can pick from a pool of 25ish players and create his ideal starting XI. From Mirante to Marcano, from Zaniolo to Pastore, from Kluivert to Perotti, choices need to be made with Lazio in the back of our mind.
A lot of will depend on the formation of EDF. Will he finally drift away from his beloved 4-3-3? Will he experiment with a 4-2-3-1 or 3-5-2? It’s a matter of chosing the best players and put them on their best positions. So no Marcano on LB, Schick at LW or Nzonzi next to DDR please. It’s time for a clear idea, tactic and fighting spirit. Only the guys who are willing to sweat and die for the colors must be called up. Play time’s over.
And of course, how typical Roma would it be to trip over this Frosinone? The ‘fear factor’ of this match is immense. If they don’t win tomorrow, heads will roll, the city will burn, someone has got to go. There will be a (or multiple) victim(s). So I’m not quite sure if all eleven players who step onto the field will have nerves of steel. This is the ultimate must win, there is simply no other way. But it won’t be a walk in the park, just ask Juve or Lazio.
What if Dzeko horribly misses his first big chance? What if Pastore plays three bad passes in a row? What if Fazio mistimes a tackle and it was almost 0-1? The crowd will react merciless.
Frosinone also has those typical Roman nightmares in store, like your average Italian keeper who releases his inner Buffon against us (Sportiello) or the older veteran who suddenly finds back his top form (Molinaro, Hallfredsson). Ow, and that unknown, mediocre striker who always find a way to score against Roma (Campbell, Perica).
People say fear is a bad counselor. But right now the club is wrapped up in fear. Yet, there are no more excuses. Get out there, get a win. Move on to the next one. Roma may have 99 problems but Frosinone ain’t one.
To quote the Scarecrow from Batman Begins: “There’s nothing to fear, but fear itself.”