Coming out of the winter break, Roma have been unable to find their form in the league, losing to both Turin clubs in back-to-back weeks. Fortunately, the Coppa Italia proved to be the opportunity needed for Roma to get its first win of 2020, led by a brace from Lorenzo Pellegrini. With a place in the Coppa quarterfinals against Juventus now assured, the Giallorossi head back into league play, hoping to defeat Genoa and keep pace with fourth-place Atalanta.
Last Time Around: Roma 3 - Genoa 3
Roma’s first match of the season against Genoa C.F.C. was certainly an entertaining one for the neutrals, but the average Romanista’s take on the game can be summed up in one patented Paulo Fonseca Death Stare:
Suffice it to say that this match was not one of Roma’s finest of the season. Sure, goals were scored by Edin Dźeko, Aleksandar Kolarov, and Cengiz Ünder (hey, remember when he scored a lot?), but Roma’s defense was utterly pathetic. In essence, Roma’s defensive spacing was miserable, and Pau Lopez’s communication with his defending corps left much to be desired. Poor performances from Juan Jesus and Federico Fazio in particular sunk Roma’s chances of taking three points from this one, but with Gianluca Mancini and Chris Smalling now leading Roma’s defense, we can hope that Roma’s defensive integrity can be at least a smidge better.
What To Look For
With Roma’s preeminent attacking wonderkid Nicolo Zaniolo sidelined for the rest of the season, the Giallorossi need their other promising attackers to pick up the slack as soon as possible. Since the signing of Matteo Politano has been cancelled (and with Roma looking to sue Inter for their transfer hijinks, don’t expect that deal to get resuscitated), Paulo Fonseca has to make do with what he has at Trigoria already. If there was a moment for a Cengiz Ünder resurgence or a Justin Kluivert explosion, it would be now.
Genoa v. Roma: January 19th. 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT. Stadio Ferraris, Genoa.
Kluivert looked quite promising against Parma, and it’s been clear from the moment he stepped foot on the field of the Stadio Olimpico that he has both the goods to become a star and the skillset to succeed as a winger for Paulo Fonseca. Ünder has had more goalscoring success in his career with Roma than the Dutchman, but it is also much less clear that he has what it takes to take on the duties of a winger in Fonseca’s game. With Diego Perotti aging and Henrikh Mkhitaryan often injured, one of these forwards needs to become a key part of Roma’s attacking corps now. If not, the second half of Roma’s season is going to be a dour one.
With a quarter-finals match against Juventus coming down the pike quickly, Roma needs a win against Genoa not only to maintain their league position but to give them the necessary confidence to keep on pushing for their tenth Coppa win. I Lupi may not have Nicolo Zaniolo, or even Matteo Politano, but we have to hope that the club still has enough attacking firepower to get the job done, both now and for the rest of the season.