Roma's week one matchup against Genoa was everything we expected and feared from Roma: Year Zero (Part I, the First Fonseca). Roma's offense was a sight to be hold for much of the match: Edin Dzeko served as the focal point of the attack, Cengiz Ünder look every bit as rejuvenated as we'd all hoped and Aleskandar Kolarov was a dynamo going forward, contributing six key passes, hitting on 86% of his passes and completing two crosses into the area. The attack may have been resplendent but the defense was revolting, looking vulnerable on the counter and done-in by poor decision making. Roma's first taste of Fonseca Football was both a best and worst case scenario, making tomorrow's Derby della Capitale nearly impossible to predict.
Of course, in typical Roma fashion, the ensuing week has been anything but calm and organized. Roma continued their negotiations for Daniele Rugani before ultimately shifting their attention to Chris Smalling, while finally finding homes for Robin Olsen and Gregoire Defrel. Somewhat surprisingly the rancor from their three blown leads against Genoa barely registered in the midweek headlines, so let’s be thankful for this week's cacophony of transfer rumors.
No Rest for the Weary
Dealing with a derby this early in the season is a bit of an awkward proposition. Usually when the Derby della Capitale rolls around we have an inkling of who each team is, how they play and what's at stake on the table, but with only one week under their belts, we're not exactly sure who Roma and Lazio are this season. Will Roma really operate at such extremes this season (don't answer that)? Will Ciro Immobile and Thomas Strakosha really be that good all year?
None of this will take an ounce of juice out of this derby, it just makes framing the match-up, in terms of the broad-stroke narratives, a bit difficult, but I guess that's a me problem now that I think about it.
Lazio vs. Roma: September 1st. 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
What we do know, however, is that much like all Derby della Captiales there will be goals a plenty and no shortage of cards. Over their past six encounters, Roma and Lazio have combined to score 19 goals and drawn three red cards, with Roma winning the latter by a 2-1 margin thanks to the hot tempers of Kolarov last year and Antonio Rüdiger back in 2017. Tomorrow's tilt won't have the same tension as the days when Daniele De Rossi and Stefan Radu were running clanging heads but something tells me referee Marco Guida will be busy on Sunday.
In terms of the Xs and Os tomorrow, Fonseca's formation shouldn't change, nor should his approach really, but it will be interesting to see what he does at the back. With Davide Zappacosta fully in the fold now, there is a chance Fonseca starts the former Torino man at right back while slotting Alessandro Florenzi up front opposite of Ünder. Zappacosta isn't exactly a defensive dynamo, but his increased stature could be a welcomed change over the vertically challenged Roman, while Ale could flourish in Fonseca's uptempo attack as a winger.
In what I suspect (no, check that, know) will be a theme this season, Roma's ability to bend but not break at the back will be the dividing line between gaining and dropping points. It's not an earth shattering revelation, but it's one that looms even larger this season give Fonseca's attack at all costs approach.
If Genoa can claw back not once, not twice, but thrice against Roma's suspect defense, can you imagine what the likes of Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic can do if they get behind Juan Jesus and Federico Fazio?
Unfortunately for Roma, if last season's results were any indication, things at the top of the table will be incredibly tight, making every point worth its weight in gold.