Call it Coppa Italia day here at Chiesa di Totti. Earlier today we discussed the first ever Roma v. Roma derby taking place on the women's side, with Betty Bavagnoli's side prepping to take on Roma CF, and now we shift our focus towards Eusebio Di Francesco's attempt to make amends for last weekend's blowup in Bergamo. After racing out to a three 3-1 lead against Atalanta on Sunday, Roma blew three points in the absolute worst way, giving up two soft goals in the second half while not even bothering to attempt a single shot on goal.
It was among the worst Roma Happened performances we've seen in quite some time, so you'd be right to worry about the club's mentality ahead of tomorrow's quarterfinal tilt against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia. Making matters worse, the Viola have played Roma extremely tough in recent months, edging out the Giallorossi 3-1 on aggregate over their past two fixtures.
Fiorentina v. Roma: January 30th. 18:15 CET/12:15 EST. Artemio Franchi, Firenze.
With Roma in the dogfight of their lives for fourth place, they may have more pressing matters than advancing in what is an essentially meaningless competition, but let's be real: Roma needs a trophy. It’s simply been too long since this club has tasted true success, so it would be refreshing to see EDF go full tilt tomorrow, rolling out his A-Team in an effort to slow down a Fiorentina side that has racked up an impressive nine goals over their past three league fixtures.
Led by the scorching trio of Federico Chiesa, Marco Bennasi and the recently acquired Luis Muriel, the Viola have won two of their past three matches and rank top ten in goals scored and differential. All of which has been good enough to keep them in the thick of the Champions League hunt along side Roma. With 30 points from 21 matches, Fiorentina are one of seven sides currently vying for fourth place and Italy's final Champions League spot for next season.
So, not exactly an easy opponent but Roma are playing with house money in a sense. Besides the completely meaningless nature of the tournament, Roma can roll the tactical dice tomorrow. With Bryan Cristante and Steven Nzonzi ruled out for the weekend clash against Milan due to accumulated cards, and with Edin Dzeko seemingly back in form, EDF can pick and choose from Daniele De Rossi, Patrik Schick, Cengiz Ünder, Justin Kluivert and maybe even Ante Coric (if healthy).
That is to say, with a six pointer against Milan looming, EDF will have to be careful with the likes of Kostas Manolas, Nicolo Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, but he has veritable carte blanche with the rest of his selections. Mixing things up, both tactically and with different personnel combinations, could be just the cure after the massive letdown over the weekend.
For my money, winning the Coppa Italia sort of lost its luster once Juve beat Roma to the 10th title punch, but having some sort of tangible achievement to fall back on would serve this club well.