The last year of the decade was certainly a wild ride for Roma fans. From the struggles early in the year that led to the dismissals of both Eusebio Di Francesco and Monchi, to the farewell of Daniele De Rossi, to the hiring of Gianluca Petrachi and Paulo Fonseca, it’s been a roller coaster of emotions for Romanisti. Things have looked up in the latter half of 2019 thanks to the work put in by Petrachi and Fonseca to stabilize the Giallorossi after a disastrous campaign.
Thanks to Petrachi’s work off the pitch and Fonseca’s on it, Roma again looks like one of Serie A’s more formidable sides and a top four threat. As dallagente pointed out recently, things still aren’t all peaches and cream in the capital from a financial standpoint, but the impending Dan Friedkin takeover has brought even more enthusiasm to the capital.
While there’s no telling what kind of owner Friedkin will be, the takeover is expected to help from a financial point of view. Perhaps Roma will no longer be a supermercato? Only time will tell. Just how long Friedkin's financial clout will take to impact the transfer market is unknown, and it remains unlikely that the Giallorossi will be able to make any kind of major move in January despite the takeover nearing completion.
With that in mind, Fonseca will have to continue to get the most out of a side that still lacks depth in some areas. The Giallorossi survived the early season injury crisis and have begun to really show their quality heading in the holiday break. Hopefully the two weeks off will help re-energize the team rather than stifle the momentum of a seven match unbeaten streak in all competitions.
With that being said, January will certainly be a test of the Giallorossi’s mettle and legitimacy as a top four candidate. So, while the Friedkin takeover will have a long term effect on the club, the way Roma performs to start 2020 could have a major impact on how the rest of the season plays out. So let’s take a look at the first month of the new decade, one that could have a major impact on Roma reaching its sporting objectives in the near term.
Roma enters January having played some its best Fonseca Football after the November international break. Roma scored three or more goals in all of its five victories over Brescia, Istanbul Basaksehir, Hellas Verona, SPAL, and Fiorentina. Meanwhile, the defense conceded only five times in seven matches with three clean sheets. With the offense doing what everyone hoped it would under Fonseca, and the defense exceeding expectations thanks to Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini, Roma enters perhaps its toughest stretch to date in decent shape.
In the month of January, the Giallorossi will play four league matches and its first Coppa Italia match of the season. Roma will finish the first half of the Serie A calendar with back-to-back home matches against the Torinese sides, Torino and Juventus, in weeks 18 and 19. Those matches are followed by a road match at Parma in the Coppa Italia round of 16, before the calendar flips back around and the Giallorossi travel to Genoa and host Lazio in the derby.
So, while Roma certainly performed well in late November and December, outside of Inter, the competition wasn’t the stiffest. As you can see, things won’t be quite as easy this time around. So let’s take a quick look at what Roma is up against to start the New Year.
Torino (H)- Jan. 5th
While Torino is no pushover, the Granata don’t look as well organized and dangerous as last season. Torino currently sits 10th in the league table, and is coming off two poor results. Torino conceded three straight to Hellas after going up 3-0 in round 16. The Granata followed that by blowing a lead to relegation zone SPAL to lose 2-1. Roma could be getting Torino at the right time.
Juventus (H)- Jan. 12th
While Juventus again sit joint top of the Serie A table, this incarnation of the Bianconeri hasn’t been quite as dominant as recent Bianconeri sides. That feels a bit weird to say, considering Maurizio Sarri’s side has only lost twice— both times to Lazio 3-1— and rolled through its Champions League group. However, despite its success in the league and in Europe thus far, December was rough for the Bianconeri. December included both Lazio losses and a draw against Sassuolo, as well as a tough 2-1 win against Samp. Before Juve comes to Rome, it hosts surprise package Cagliari. While Juve will come in as the favorites, this feels like one of those seasons where Roma could get a rare result against the Scudetto holders. If that happens, it could serve as a signal of intent from the Giallorossi as true top four challengers.
Coppa Italia- Parma (A)- Jan 16th
Roma has lost only two league matches this season and one of them was to Parma. The Giallorossi will return the to the scene of the crime for their first Coppa Italia match of the season. While this one won’t have any bearing on the league standings and Roma’s push for a Champions League place, it is an opportunity for Roma to try and end its trophy drought. With the Scudetto seemingly out of reach for another season, and some formidable obstacles in a potential Europa League run, the Coppa Italia could be Roma’s best opportunity at a trophy. A deep Coppa Italia run would have to begin at Tardini with the Giallorossi avenging their November loss.
Genoa (A)- Jan. 19th
Genoa’s fortunes have changed greatly since the Grifoni pegged Roma back three times en route to a match day one draw at the Olimpico. This time around Romanisti won’t have to worry about Juan Jesus gifting two goals to a struggling Genoa side. The Grifoni currently sit bottom of the table and are onto their third manager of the season. The Marassi is never an easy place to play for visitors, but let’s be frank, Roma can ill afford any less than a win in this one.
Lazio (H)- Jan. 26th
It’s rare that a fixture against Juve isn’t the Giallorossi’s most anticipated match of the month, but when third place Lazio looms on the calendar it’s understandable. Lazio, like Roma, has bounced back nicely from a disappointing 2018/19 and currently sit third in Serie A— six points off the top and one ahead of Roma— with a match in hand. A lot can change after three match days, but after spanking Juve twice in December, Roma’s city rivals look legit. Roma were able to withstand a barrage in Fonseca’s second match in charge to hold Lazio to a 1-1 draw. If both Roman sides stay on their current form this could be one the hottest contested derbies in some time— considering table position. If Roma can find a way to take the three points in this one then a top four place could look even more likely.