You’d be excused if you weren’t too amped up to watch tomorrow’s match, the Giallorossi’s final one in Europa League Group A. Roma are six points ahead of second-place BSC Young Boys, and their opponent, CSKA Sofia, is without a doubt the worst club in the group. The stage is set for Roma to advance to the next round of the Europa League and top the group, and there is literally nothing that can change that.
CSKA Sofia vs. Roma: December 10th. 18:55 CET/12:55 EST. Stadio Levski, Sofia
This was the expectation for the club going into the group stage; the worst thing that was thrown at the Giallorossi in the Europa League so far wasn’t any particular opponent, but the long distances traveled to Bulgaria and Romania for two of those matches. Nevertheless, it’s nice that Roma wrapped up the group stage with one match in hand; it allows Paulo Fonseca to rotate properly leading into i Lupi’s match with Genoa this weekend.
What To Watch For
Startafiori 2: Start Harder
Riccardo Calafiori’s first start for the Giallorossi went swimmingly, with the Roman-born left-back scoring a howitzer of a goal against BSC Young Boys. Add in the recent reports that a contract renewal for the Mino Raiola client is all but signed, and it’s been quite the December for Richie. It’d make perfect sense for Paulo Fonseca to let Calafiori loose once again in this final match of the group stages; there’s literally nothing to lose, and resting Leonardo Spinazzola while giving Calafiori the runway to develop some form is a win-win situation for the Portuguese manager.
In my mind this seems like a no-brainer for Calafiori to get the start; since this match has very little meaning for the Giallorossi, I’m hoping that he can also provide some spark of interest for the Romanisti watching at home.
Breaking Borja (Into The First Team)?
Don’t look now, but there’s a somewhat interesting situation going on at striker for the Giallorossi. Borja Mayoral certainly hasn’t turned himself into a world-beater on the level of Edin Džeko, but these past few weeks have shown us that the Spanish striker might actually be worth the €15 million option the Giallorossi have on him next summer.
Beyond scoring four goals across all competitions this season, Mayoral has slowly but surely learning how to function as a striker in Paulo Fonseca’s system, providing stronger and stronger link-up play and becoming an interesting alternative to Roma’s Bosnian Diamond. One recent Sinners & Saints praised Mayoral, saying:
Mayoral continued to make mince meat of Europa League competition yesterday, pouncing on Pedro’s rebounded shot to score his third goal in the competition and fourth overall. In addition to his goal, Mayoral put both of his shots on target, chipped in two key passes, completed two dribbles, drew two fouls and was a perfect three-for-three on long-ball attempts.
Slowly but surely, we’re getting glimpses of what Mayoral can do and if he can translate these Europa League performances into the league, he’ll add an interesting new wrinkle to Roma’s attack.
He hasn’t wowed on the same level in Serie A just yet, but even if Mayoral just keeps scoring in the Europa League, that can allow Džeko to focus on Serie A (where Roma needs goalscoring the most). If he’s able to finally transfer over some of the goalscoring juice to Serie A, though, it may end with Džeko riding more pine as he ages. Call me crazy, but I think that’d be a good thing.
Pérez For Pedro? Please?
Let me start this off by saying that I like Pedro and what he’s brought to the Giallorossi so far. He’s an excellent complementary player to both Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Džeko, and he’s showing once again that Roma’s status as the Rejuvenation Center For Slightly-Older Attackers is a good status to have.
However, you can tell that with Pedro in particular, he’s simply not used to playing as much as he has been for Paulo Fonseca. That’s fine! He’s on the wrong side of 30, but he can still provide for the Giallorossi a decent amount of the time. But... expecting Pedro to be the backbone of Roma’s attack 24/7 is an exercise in futility. Let the man rest, at least in cup tournaments, and give Roma’s other Spanish attacking midfielder the chance to grow into a starter’s role. Pérez is a decade younger than Pedro, and although Pedro certainly has more quality now, if you don’t want Carles Pérez to become Justin Kluivert 2.0, or Cengiz Ünder 3.0, or Patrik Schick 4.0, or Juan Iturbe... you get the picture, he needs more time on the field to develop. The fact that it’ll let one of Roma’s more talented attackers get some rest is an added bonus.
This poll is closed
Big Win. Roma wants to end the group stages with some oomph and CSKA Sofia just aren’t good enough.
Draw. Roma just doesn’t try, CSKA Sofia parks the bus.
Who cares, I’m not watching this boring match.