Perspective is a wonderful thing in life. From a simple meal to a life changing event, viewing things with nuance gives deeper and richer meaning to all pursuits big and small. And while this also applies to something as trivial as sports, considering the pickle in which Roma currently find themselves, perspective is irrelevant. Sure, in striking back at Fiorentina after falling down twice midweek, Roma showed more oomph (or balls as the club president so eloquently put it) than we've seen under Claudio Ranieri thus far, but all that mattered little; they wasted yet another opportunity to gain ground on AC Milan, heaping further pressure on tomorrow's tilt against Sampdoria.
As we discussed this morning, for fans of (at times) beautiful football from teams not blessed with bountiful bank accounts, there is a lot of symmetry between Roma and Sampdoria, but where the rubber meets the road, on the table and on the pitch, Samp have been the better side recently, winning four of their past six matches and now sit just three points behind Roma.
Sampdoria v. Roma: April 6th. 20:30 CET/2:30 EDT. Stadio Luigi Ferraris, Genoa
However, despite that contrasting form, if the last match was any indication, Sampdoria are exactly the side Roma wants to see right now.
November 11, 2018: Roma 4, Sampdoria 1
If we discount Gregoire Defrel's current/temporary employer, then Roma hung up five goals in this one. Starting with Juan Jesus’ 19th minute goal (See, he does more than concede own goals), Roma's 11:11 wishes came true as they romped over their visitors from Genoa in a 4-1 laugher.
Tinkerman Be Tinkering
Lest you think Ranieri's reputation unwarranted, consider this: In his four matches since taking over for Eusebio Di Francesco, Ranieri has utilized three different tactical formations, four different personnel combinations, and, hell, even two different keepers! Can you imagine how arduous it must be for this man to pick out something as simple as a couch?
Despite his tinkering, Claudio was quite contrite after Wednesday's draw with Fiorentina, admitting his substitutions were flawed. So, if we take him at his word we can assume, or at least feel safe guessing, that Diego Perotti and Justin Kluivert will feature prominently for Roma, though as he alluded to late this week, Perotti probably can't go 90 minutes just yet.
The good news is that, with Stephan El Shaarawy deemed fit (we think) and Cengiz Ünder rounding into form, Ranieri should have enough legs to keep his attack fresh, while Daniele De Rossi's impending return will be greeted with all the fawning he deserves.
As far as last week's long overdue keeper change, Ranieri was a bit ambiguous:
Mirante did well, I think he’ll play again. If I keep changing, both will be unhappy.
I’m reluctant to change: the psychology of a goalkeeper is unique. I wanted to give a bit of rest to Olsen, who has all my confidence.
I read that as Ranieri simply being diplomatic towards Olsen, but “I think he'll play” doesn't exactly inspire one with confidence, now does it?
For my money, I think Olsen has played his last match in a Roma shirt. Fair or not, he's lost the confidence of his team and if Mirante can at least provide replacement-level play, Roma will be better off in the short run.
As far as who will be threatening Antonio Mirante in the first place, it's all about Quags. Fabio Quagliarella has found the veritable fountain of youth this season, cracking an astounding 21 goals (to go along with 7 assists) at 36-years-old. For Quagliarella, it's merely the continuation of a late career resurgence. Since switching to Samp three years ago, Quagliarella has amassed an impressive 54 league goals, and has been on a tear as of late, scoring seven goals in his last eight games (all comps including Italy friendlies).
Here is where we thank god that Kostas Manolas is back from suspension, sparing us the forgettable duo of Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus, a pairing that could potentially make Quagliarella look like the second coming of Silvio Piola. In the face of such incompetence, Manolas’ best asset, his speed, is needed more than ever.
No matter how Claudio lines ‘em up tomorrow, if Roma can bottle that energy and that give-a-damness they showed after falling behind Fiorentina on Wednesday they might stand a chance of actually winning this one, and with Milan facing Juventus on the road, Roma might have a golden opportunity to pull within one point of the fourth place Rossoneri.
Ranieri still has a chance to save Roma, and defeating their chimeric twin would be just the shot of life the Giallorossi need.