The last time Roma met Borussia Mönchengladbach on match day three, it was the first time for the Gianluca Mancini as midfielder experiment. Mancini starting alongside Jordan Veretout came out of the blue. What was Fonseca thinking? This had to be a shot in the dark. Except it wasn’t.
Fonseca saw exactly what was needed to help fill the void left by injuries to Diawara, Cristante, and Pellegrini. Mancini, to the surprise of many, put in a man of the match caliber performance. In a deluge that engulfed the Olimpico, Mancini and Veretout bossed the midfield, while Zaniolo’s goal had the Giallorossi poised to take control of Group J.
That was until Chris Smalling was called for a face ball, umm I mean, handball to gift Gladbach a penalty in the dying minutes. It was a blatant mistake that couldn’t be corrected thanks to the lack of VAR in the Europa League. For all the issues we’ve seen in Serie A with VAR, this would’ve easily been remedied.
'Gladbach vs Roma: November 7th, 21:00CET/3:00EST. Borussia-Park, Mönchengladbach, Germany.
Instead, thanks to the the two points robbed from the Giallorossi, they enter this match only a point clear of Wolfsbereger and Basaksehir halfway through the group stage. Meanwhile, Gladbach sits three points back with just two draws. The close proximity of all teams involved makes this an important encounter.
A trip to the Rhineland presents a tough road test for Fonseca’s side, as Gladbach continues to play well domestically despite its lack of a win in Europe. Since the draw in Rome, Gladbach has won its two league fixtures against Eintract Frankfurt and Bayer Leverkusen, but fell to Dortmund in the league cup. The German side is strong at home, but not indomitable, as it was thrashed by Wolfsberger at Borussia-Park on match day one.
Meanwhile, the Giallorossi could’ve carried the bad taste of the refereeing debacle in to league play. However, in a show of newfound mental toughness, the Giallorossi were able to quickly put it behind them: In three league matches since, Roma is 3-0-0 with wins over Milan, Udinese, and Napoli.
During that stretch, Roma was able to brush aside an injury depleted roster and even more questionable refereeing. Mancini’s shift to the midfield has been a large part of that, so has a reborn Javier Pastore and an on fire Zaniolo—the young Italian is on a four match goal streak which started against the Germans.
If Roma is able to keep up its unbeaten run (eight matches in all comps), expect the aforementioned trio, along with in form players like Smalling and Veretout, to be protagonists. A win for the Giallorossi in this one would go a long way in securing a place in the knockout rounds.