The last few days have been dominated by the big news that captain Daniele De Rossi will be leaving Roma at the end of the season. While the DDR news will dominant the headlines over the last two weeks of the season, the fact that Roma have two potentially very meaningful matches to play shouldn’t be lost in the fray.
Last time out Roma kept its slim Champions League qualification hopes alive by delivering a thrilling victory over league winners Juventus. Roma survived first half scares thanks to some great goalkeeping by Antonio Mirante, before Alessandro Florenzi and Edin Dzeko sent the Bianconeri out the door with their no longer striped tails between their legs.
The win pushed the Giallorossi’s unbeaten run to seven matches (4-3-0), but despite those 15 points Roma still trail Inter (4 points) and Atalanta (3) for a top 4 finish. Roma could be all but eliminated from Champions League contention if they don’t beat Sassuolo (and have other results go their way) tomorrow. A Roma win would keep the pressure on the other contenders who all play Sunday.
Previous Meeting: Roma 3 - Sassuolo 1
The last time these teams met at the Olimpico, Roma gifted its supporters a Boxing Day gift. The Giallorossi won the fixture behind a man of the match quality performance from Patrik Schick, who drew a penalty and scored a goal. However, the highlight of the day came when Nicolò Zaniolo put both Andrea Consigli and Gianmarco Ferrari on their rear-ends before scoring his first Roma goal. Of course, Roma being Roma, they conceded a late consolation goal.
Sassuolo v. Roma: May 18th. 20:30 CET/2:30 EDT. Mapei Stadium, Sassuolo.
Roma will look to secure a similar result against a Sassuolo side firmly entrenched in mid-table security with little to play for. The Neroverdi have won just twice since the beginning of April and are coming off a tough 3-2 loss at the hands of Torino on Sunday. In that match, Sassuolo blew two leads before succumbing to a Andrea Belotti wonder-strike. With this in mind, Roma can’t take this one lightly.
Sassuolo can play a big part in how the Champions League race plays out over the next two weeks. They host Roma this week and then play a “road” match against Atalanta to close out the season. That match will essentially be a home game with La Dea using the Mapei Stadium while their own ground under renovations. So, Sassuolo may be the enemy this week, but it could quickly turn into Roma’s most important ally in a week’s time.
If Roma can manage a win, it will provisionally pull level with Atalanta and move within a point of Inter. Those two sides have tough matches on Sunday; Inter travel to Naples while Atalanta travel to Juventus. Atalanta will be coming off a midweek Coppa Italia final loss to Lazio, which means it could be a bit fatigued when considering its lack of squad depth. If things play out right for Roma this weekend, then De Rossi’s finale at the Olimpico could take on significant meaning in the standings, as well.
However, that scenario can only play out if Roma gets a win a in Emilia-Romagna first.