Raise your hand if you saw this coming: Roma in fourth place at this point in the season; perhaps. But Roma sitting ahead of Napoli just days before their head-to-head match up at the Olimpico —highly unlikely.
Roma are in Year Zero, while the Partonopei are in year two of Carlo Ancelotti. Napoli is a side that was supposed to be building toward something great. However, the anti-Juve of recent seasons suddenly finds itself scuffling along. In the month of October, Napoli has won only one of its four Serie A matches, while drawing three others. That run of form has seen Ancelotti’s side drop to a tie for fifth in the league with Lazio, one point behind the fourth place Giallorossi. Throw in a nil-nil draw against Genk and a narrow victory in Salzburg in the Champions League and October was quite spooky for Napoli.
Roma vs Napoli: November 2nd, 15:00CET/10:00EST. Stadio Olimpico, Rome.
Meanwhile, Roma continues to chug along, persevering through injuries and controversial refereeing. While physical ailments have piled up, Fonseca has continuously figured out ways to make things work from a tactical standpoint. However, and perhaps even more impressive, is the new mentality that the coach has instilled in his side in such a short time.
A new mental toughness has found its way to the Italian capital. That newfound fortitude was on full display on Wednesday in Udine: Roma jumped out to a 1-0 lead, only to have Federico Fazio see red on a controversial last man back foul just after the half hour mark. The learned behavior for Roma fans was to fear the worst. In recent years, adversity and this side were like oil and water.
2 - AS Roma is the only team to have won at least 2 Serie A 2019/20 games after having played in situation of numerical inferiority (1 red card vs Bologna and 1 red card vs Udinese). Tenacity. #UdineseRoma pic.twitter.com/K0k7dmw7Ws— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) October 30, 2019
However, rather than panic this version of Roma, the Year Zero version, just kept on keeping on. Fonseca Football was on full display. This Roma didn’t crumble under the pressure. It stepped up and excelled, scoring three goals en route to a four nothing win. A win that moved the Giallorossi ahead of Napoli in the table.
Roma will look to carry the momentum from the victory into Saturday’s match. A match that could be pivotal. Every match this season was going to be critical with the race for fourth likely being hotly contested again. However, what’s unexpected about this one is the fact that Roma and Napoli are in direct competition. The Partenopei aren’t head and shoulders better as expected.
Fonseca Football is progressing against all odds. Now, it’ll be up to Roma to prove they belong in the conversation with Napoli. A win on Saturday at the Olimpico would go a long way in starting that conversation. It could also establish the Giallorossi as a legit threat for not only the top 4, but even the top 3. Raise your hand if you saw that coming. I sure didn’t.