With the ominous cloud of back-to-back league defeats to the Torinese sides and Nicoló Zaniolo’s ruptured ACL hanging over them, Roma will open Coppa Italia play on Thursday against Parma at the Tardini. This season Roma has had to deal with plenty of injuries and even back-to-back defeats—albeit not in league play. However, this time around it feels a little different.
Prior to the start of the new calendar year, Roma was on a roll and firmly positioned for a Champions League place. Now, the Giallorossi find themselves in a precarious position. Atalanta has drawn level in the league table and Paulo Fonseca will be deprived of his most prized asset the remainder of the way. The Portuguese CT will have to figure things out (and fast) if he is to get Roma’s season heading back in the right direction.
Parma vs. Roma: January 16th, 21:15CET/15:15EST. Stadio Ennio Tardini, Parma.
In that regard, the Coppa Italia presents Roma with a unique opportunity. In a sense, Roma will be given a clean slate; a new competition. It will allow the Giallorossi to put the recent home losses to Torino and Juve behind them and give them a new opportunity to take the first step toward lifting a trophy in the American era. Meanwhile, a positive result could jump start the team when it starts the second half of the league calendar on Sunday.
That being said, this tie will not be a cakewalk against a Serie B side, like some Coppa matches end up being. For this one, Roma will travel to the location of its only league road defeat of the season, the Stadio Ennio Tardini, to play Parma. In that November match, an injury-depleted, fatigued Roma side lost 2-0 to the hosts. Goals from Mattia Sprocati and Andreas Cornelius did the Giallorossi in, despite the visitors controlling 63% of possession.
Parma enter this match coming off a 2-0 victory over Lecce on Monday. But that result comes on the heels of a 5-0 beatdown at the hands of Atalanta to start 2020. So, it has been a mixed bag in recent weeks for the seventh place side from Emilia-Romagna.
Unlike Roma, which qualified directly for the Round of 16 based on last season’s league position, Parma has had to win to get here. The Ducali won a third round match over Venezia 3-1 back in August. Parma then won its fourth round match in early December 2-1 over Frosinone.
Normally, an away fixture in a one off competition like the Coppa Italia is seen as a disadvantage. However, after the recent events at the Olimpico it may be a good thing for the Giallorossi to get away from the scene of the crime. A new environment may do the Giallorossi well. Perhaps, it can be a case of out of sight, out of mind, as they attempt to move on from Sunday’s horrific events.
Only time will tell if Roma and Fonseca are equipped enough to deal with the loss of one of their best players. That coupled with trying to ward off Atalanta while competing on three fronts will be daunting. If this is to happen then Roma will have to bounce back from the latest, greatest injury blow beginning on Thursday in Parma.