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Roma Welcomes Relegation Battling Bologna to the Olimpico

I'm sure Skorupski won't make, like, 12 saves in this match. Nope. Not gonna happen.

Chievo Verona v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

I have long since lost track of how many match previews I've written during my time here, but I can safely say this will be the strangest one I've ever written. You see, were it not for a gaping hole in my roof, I would be writing this preview from a hotel in Rome (or, let's be honest, an Airbnb because I'm not made of money) before heading over the Olimpico to see Roma square off against my beloved Mattia Destro and the rest of Greyhounds. But hey, that's life, shit happens and you move on. Incidentally, if anyone knows a good roofer, hit me up.

Much like yesterday's match on the women's side, this has all the makings of a walkover for Roma. Bologna are mired in 18th place with 18 points (that's odd, I wonder how often that happens) and are in the thick of a relegation battle with Frosinone, Empoli and Udinese, but recent history has actually been more kind to Bologna.

You may want to skip this part, but for posterity sake, I have to...

Last Match

September 23, 2018: Bologna 2, Roma 0

It's almost an annual rite of passage for Roma, and no matter who is barking orders from the sidelines, the Giallorossi seemingly always throw matches like these overboard. At least in this instance, Federico Mattiello's match winner was an unstoppable bit of individual skill, but those three points have still come back to haunt Roma in the worst way.

Needless to say, repeating that performance would be disastrous for Roma.

Bologna: Bottom of the Barrel

Bologna have nice kits, a decent home ground and Mattia Destro, the Sunflower to my Post Malone, but that's about it. The Grayhounds have struggled mightily this season, running out a -17 goal differential, the league's fourth worst mark, through 23 matches, and have only mustered 18 goals scored, one less than Cristiano Ronaldo has managed on his own.

Roma v. Bologna: February 18th. 20:30 CET/2:30 EST. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.

Of course, they do have one decent weapon (no, not Destro sadly), Federico Santander, who has accounted for 1/3rd of Bologna's offensive output this season, and victimized Roma back in September. Keeping him in check will be essential to avoiding a repeat of the last fixture.

That's about it really, Bologna is pretty bad. Of course, since this is Roma we're talking about, Lukasz Skorupski will probably morph into a 28-year-old Gianluigi Buffon and make at least three diving, finger-tip saves.

Let's move on.

Roma: Looking for Some Rest

After a somewhat down stretch to close out January, truncated by their embarrassing display against Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia, Roma seem to be rounding back into form. With successive victories against Chievo and Porto, Eusebio Di Francesco's side seems to rediscovering their 90 minute form, a trait that will serve them well as February gives way to March.

With four matches over the next 17 days, including the derby against Lazio and their trip to the Dragao to kick off March, Di Francesco's squad rotation will be front and center. Robin Olsen seems set to return after a two-week stint on the sideline, but the real points of concern rest in midfield and in attack.

After returning from a months long trip to the trainer's room, Daniele De Rossi has featured in Roma's last four matches, going the full 90 against Porto this past Tuesday. Given how effective he was in the Champions League, EDF would be wise to rest his captain against such a lowly side, so look for Bryan Cristante and Steven Nzonzi to resume their partnership in front of the defense.

While the squad list hasn't been released yet, Di Francesco hinted at further rotation in defense and attack. With Juan Jesus and Ivan Marcano each training with full force, EDF hinted at using Marcano at leftback and putting Rruan in the middle, but denied rumors that Alessandro Florenzi would be deployed on the wings to cover for the sudden shortage in attack.

Speaking of which, with Stephan El Shaarawy suffering a late week knock in training (such a lovely, vague term) and Patrik Schick and Cengiz Ünder remaining in doubt, we could see an Edin Dzeko, Nicolo Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert trio tomorrow evening.

Either way, Di Francesco was correct in his assertion that, not only should Roma not overlook Bologna, but that this is an entirely different Bologna side—new coach, new tactics and a new rotation. So whatever positives that could pull back from that September fixture probably are no longer relevant.

I'll spare you the check list, but we're looking at a relegation battling side with a new coach and a former Roma goalkeeper coming to down. {insert gulp gif}

Come si dice, trap match?