Roma's last 225 minutes of action have been, in a word, interesting. Starting with their second half collapse against Atalanta two weeks ago, the Giallorossi have entered quite an interesting spell, even by their absurd standards. After tossing three crucial points out the window against Atalanta, Roma looked downright amateurish against Fiorentina during their 7-1 undressing in the Coppa Italia, and then there was last week's frustrating turn against AC Milan, a by-the-numbers victory that ended up a 1-1 draw thanks to a momentary lapse in judgement from Lorenzo Pellegrini and Federico Fazio. (That's a bit twisted since it was Roma who actually came from behind, but you get it.)
I often wonder if other teams suffer similar travails, or if this is a uniquely Roma phenomenon, but short of abandoning the team I guess I'll never know. But I digress.
Chievo vs. Roma: February 8th. 20:30 CET/2:30 EST. Stadio Bentegodi, Verona
Needing three points worse than the Oscars need a host, Roma are seemingly setup with a gimme against the Flying Donkeys of Chievo, Serie A's last and least squad. With only nine points to their name, Chievo has struggled mightily this season, but there is a reason I said "seemingly.”
September 16, 2018: Roma 2, Chievo 2
We always tend to overlook Chievo, but even at that early point in the season, this fixture was as much an example of Roma at her best as it was a harbinger of things to come. Take the first half for example: Roma jumped out to an early lead thanks to two beautiful goals; Stephan El Shaarawy getting on the end of a pinpoint cross from Alessandro Florenzi, followed 20 minutes later by an absolutely succulent hold up and layoff between Edin Dzeko and Bryan Cristante. Wing play, over laps, late runs into the box, give-and-gos—this was EDF football at its apex.
But then the second half collapse ensued, giving us a preview of the chicken that would soon come home to roost. Couple this with their scoreless draw in the winter of 2017, and Chievo have actually taken points from Roma in two of their past three matches.
Avoiding Another Donkey Disaster
There are any number of ways I can church up this preview, but let's face facts: In order to win, Roma simply has to not fuck this one up. No ill-timed challenges, no shots off the woodwork, no straight reds, and no wayward goals deflecting off someone's rear end.
That's it. That's all. Chievo is terrible.
In addition to their whopping nine points through 22 matches, Chievo currently sports a -25 goal differential thanks in part to an ugly penchant for surrendering early goals. In the first 15 minute interval this season, Chievo have surrendered seven goals while scoring none. Roma, meanwhile, have scored eight goals and surrendered none in that same span—word to the wise, save the bathroom trip until at least the 16th minute.
So wild are Chievo matches, that a full 18% of their fixtures this season have featured four or more goals, the league's third highest mark, and it's not as if they're running up the score on their end either—they've been held scoreless nine times this season. If you're the gambling type, take the over tomorrow.
It's not that often we see a team as hapless or helpless as Chievo, but it's not often that Chievo plays a team as erratic as Roma.
Roma should win this one, like, four to nothing, but given how the past 225 minutes have transpired I can't say with confidence that they will. Making matters worse, Roma's foes for fourth place—Atalanta, Milan and Lazio primarily—each have rather one-sided fixtures on the docket.
In a perfect world, this match should be an afterthought, but that’s not, nor is it ever, the universe in which Roma exists.
If there is any hope remaining in this season, Roma must hobble these jackasses.