I'm a big fan of figurative language, but here is one adage I wish weren't true right now: when it rains it pours. Roma being embarrassed by Juventus was bad enough, but the Giallorossi were dealt a double blow when Nicolo Zaniolo went down in the 36th minute. After charging up nearly the entire pitch, dribbling past and barging through defenders, Zaniolo made an awkward move trying to skirt around Matthijs de Ligt and immediately collapsed on the ground.
There was nothing dirty about the play, Zaniolo just seemed to scuff the turf ever so slightly as he was trying to squeeze into that final bit of space.
See for yourself:
At first blush, it didn't look that bad—perhaps an ankle or calf injury—but the reaction of the players and medical staff should have clued us in; this was catastrophic. As the medical staff attended to him, Zaniolo's chest began heaving up and down, his face red and flushed, his hands hiding his tears.
You hate to immediately fear the worse, but as Roma fans we've seen this sight far too many times, and moments ago the club confirmed our worst fears:
Following the injury suffered during tonight’s game, Nicolo Zaniolo underwent medical assessments that confirmed the rupture of the ACL in his right knee, along with some damage to the meniscus.— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) January 12, 2020
Zaniolo will undergo surgery on Monday. pic.twitter.com/tv0RviTQJR
The club's medical staff made the immediate call to send Zaniolo to Villa Stuart for imaging tests rather than a standard X-Ray at the hospital, and. as it turns out, their suspicions were correct—Zaniolo has ruptured the anterior cruciate ligament (as well as damaging his meniscus) in his right knee and will undergo surgery tomorrow.
If all this sounds familiar, well, it should. Since the start of the 2014 season, AS Roma, as an entire organization—men, women, and primavera—have now seen 20 ACL tears, including four players enduring repeat and/or multiple ligament tears.
Here is a full accounting:
- Kevin Strootman (2)
- Elio Capradossi
- Ezequiel Ponce
- Abdullah Nura
- Antonio Rudiger
- Mario Rui
- Alessandro Florenzi (2)
- Emerson Palmieri
- Luca Pellegrini (2)
- Rick Karsdorp
- Devid Bouah (2)
- Riccardo Calafiori
- Davide Zappacosta
- Manuela Coluccini
- Federica Di Criscio
- Nicolo Zaniolo
This has long since passed the point of curiosity and approached the unconscionable. Something is horribly wrong with Roma's medical staff/training grounds/training programs. This CANNOT be mere coincidence. Not 20 times.
But that's a matter for another day. Zaniolo's injury will be a tremendous blow in Roma's fight for fourth place, and perhaps even Italy's hopes at Euro 2020. The only solace we can take for now is that he's only 20-years-old and should have every chance to overcome this.
The loss to Juventus hurt, but seeing Zaniolo in such incredible pain puts things in focus. We can only wish him a swift a full recovery in the meantime.