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Keeping Up With Roma Primavera - May ‘19

Wondergoals from Riccardi and Celar helped Roma to a third-place seeding, going into June’s Scudetto playoffs.

Italy Stage - Day One Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images

In our last Primavera episode, we knew the Roma U-19s had sown up their playoff spot for Final Six Scudetto tournament, but just their final seeding was still an open affair. The highest Roma could realistically aim for was a third-placed finish with three league games remaining, and Alberto De Rossi’s charges made sure to lock down that 3rd position by picking up 7 out of the 9 points left.

Roma finished above Chievo (6th), Fiorentina (5th), Torino (4th) who will all join the Lupini in the quarter-finals. Meanwhile, Inter (2nd) and Atalanta (1st) await as both top 2 finishers get a bye directly into the semis.

Primavera Scudetto Playoffs - How and Where to Watch?

The Scudetto playoffs will run from Thursday June 6th to Friday June 14th (the final). The first Thursday will see 4th-placed Torino face 5th-placed Fiorentina in their quarter-final.

Friday June 7th sees Roma go into the second quarter-final to face 6th-placed Chievo at Sassuolo’s Stadio Enzo Ricci. All games are one-off and will be live, free-to-air on SportItalia’s webstream service. If you happen to have some early June summer vacation, you could do far worse than watch Alberto De Rossi’s team.

Roma U-19s vs. Chievo U-19s: June 7th. 18:20 CET/12:30 EDT. Stadio Enzo Ricci, Sassuolo.

First, let’s catch up on how Roma finished the regular season in 3rd place; a result that Alberto De Rossi said was a sign this team is ‘ahead of schedule’ with many of Roma’s current Primavera squad - like Alessio Riccardi - playing a year ahead of their class at this level.

Matchday 28: Sampdoria U-19s 0-0 Roma U-19s

What to say about a goalless draw, let alone one where Samp have nothing to play for? It wasn’t a surprise to find this ending in a 0-0 as Sampdoria has the best defence in the league, though their mid-table problem all season-long was their attack is equally as unexciting.

This game was notable only for the highly-rated Roman-born Edoardo Bove making yet another appearance from the bench. Meanwhile, Roma spent most of this game dealing with the treacherous state of the pitch until they finished off stronger than their opponents.

Ebrima Darboe comes close with a missed chance on goal, while 18 year-old Roman-born Andrea Silippo (who hadn’t been seen in a while) foreshadowed his strong end to the season by coming on, for the final 10 minutes of this game, and hitting the post.

Matchday 29: Roma U-19s 2-1 Juventus U-19s

Ah, Juve, Juve, Juve. They’ve dominated the men’s and women’s senior game so much that finding them in this shape, at any level, is such a rarity. This was a do-or-die game for Juventus to have any chance of making the Final Six, and Roma dutifully knocked them out of contention with this result.

Roma needed to cement third place, and no one expected anything other than a Roma win from this game. Not only that, but Alessio Riccardi individual wondergoals against Juve are becoming a regular thing, as you can see from the highlights above.

Truthfully, honourable mentions should go to Roma’s fullbacks Stefano Parodi and Francesco Semeraro. Both wide backs did a lot of the work to help Roma stay on top of possession throughout this game.

Then Zan Celar, never one to be outdone by Riccardi’s opener, scores a 28th league goal of the season with a volleyed bicycle kick into the back of the net. The Slovenian striker is still top of the scoring pile as Primavera’s deadliest marksman. It’s only between Celar and Torino’s Vincenzo Millico (on 24 goals) for the Capocannoniere title, by the time the playoffs are done.

Unfortunately, Riccardi couldn’t see out the match after he picked up an injury in the second half and was replaced by Bove. By then, Juventus hit back with a goal where William Bianda will want to look at his defensive marking as he never had his man here.

Another Roma substitute, Darboe, missed a chance to put Roma 3-1 up at the death. This didn’t make the highlights video but it didn’t matter by then. Roma took the 3 points and Juve were officially out of the title race.

Matchday 30: Udinese U19s 1-3 Roma U19s


There are, strangely, no highlights of this game. On paper, Roma had an easy fixture against rock-bottom Udinese to finish out the season. However, I saw Roma get physically dominated by this Udinese team in the reverse fixture at home and escaping with a win through hitting Udinese on the break.

I didn’t manage to catch this game live, but Udinese actually went one better here by taking the lead at 1-0 through a penalty. Fourth-choice keeper Emanuele Zamarion has looked shaky all season and conceeded the penalty here, though he wasn’t helped by Bianda losing and letting his man through on goal one-on-one. It has not been a good end to the season for Bianda.

Fellow defensive partner Riccardo Cargnelutti compounded Roma’s problems by going off with an injury in the first half. His substitute, Daniele Trasciani, would actually head Roma into the lead at 2-1 after winger Ludovico d’Orazio equalized for the capital club.

Going into the second half, the day’s MVP turned out to be Silippo. The winger has barely figured all season, but finished off May by creating two and scoring one to have a hand in all three Roma goals.

I’m going to say the real star man, however, was Darboe (pictured above).

Alberto De Rossi used this game to play Alessio Riccardi as the anchorman of a 4-3-3 midfield, with Darboe moved up the pitch to play a more attacking role. The moved paid off with Darboe giving a Nainggolan-esque performance, pressing high and getting on the scoresheet. Darboe has been a revelation since his official contract signing this past January and Roma will undoubtedly need his performances in the Final Six.

Some Season Records for Roma

Will this be the first of three victories on the way to Alberto De Rossi winning another league title at this level? There is little reason why it cannot be.

The Lupini have been erratic as a team all-season long, but that was mostly paying the price for two slumps in form coming off of international breaks and a weird streak of draws in the spring. They matched both Atalanta and Torino for the best consecutive wins streak in the league (6 straight wins) for 2018-19.

Meanwhile, the Giallorossi are certainly bringing the firepower for the playoffs. Roma finished the regular season as the league’s top scoring team (80 goals) and recorded the season’s biggest win in an early-season 7-1 away conquering of AC Milan. Only league-leaders Atalanta (77 goals) and Torino (67 goals) came close to matching Roma’s attack all year.

Roma also go into the playoffs with the knowledge they have beaten every one of the other five contenders, except 5th-placed Fiorentina. The Viola can only potentially meet Roma in the Scudetto final itself.

Of all the other Final Six teams, Roma know they’ve mostly whooped them all at least once. They’ve beaten Chievo (1-0), Inter (4-2) and Torino (5-0) at the Tre Fontane while putting Atalanta to the sword (4-0) away in Bergamo.

The only problem? Roma’s defence is the 5th-best in the league. Truthfully, the defence is not a world away from the teams around them. For example, they’ve conceeded just 6 more goals than Atalanta had all season, and bringing either Stefano Greco or Daniel Fuzato in goal should do Roma wonders in the playoffs.

But the defense had been leaky enough to let Chievo come back from 3-0 down and beat Roma 4-3 in the away fixture at Verona. Roma since beat Chievo 1-0 at home in the reverse fixture, and will once again face Chievo in the quarter-final.