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Roma Take On Cagliari, Look To Keep Pressure on Fourth Place

The Giallorossi are through to the final 16 of the Europa League; now they have to make sure they can stay in the conversation for Champions League football

AS Roma vs Cagliari - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Nobody was thrilled by Roma’s 1-1 draw against Gent on Thursday, but it got the job done. Roma are through to the Europa League’s Round of Sixteen, and with that, their chances at silverware this season increase just a smidge. Now, the focus has to return to Serie A, where the Giallorossi must attempt to continue on in good form after their 4-0 drubbing of Lecce.

It doesn’t take a brain surgeon to tell you that this Serie A match is more important than almost any match Roma will play in the Europa League. Winning the Europa League would be a nice bonus, sure, but if Roma can’t get Champions League football for next season, The Friedkin Group will be greatly hampered in terms of what they can do to increase Roma’s quality on a year-to-year basis.

Cagliari vs. Roma: March 1st. 18:00 CET/12:00 EST. Sardegna Stadium, Cagliari.

After a nearly two month slide in Serie A, it looks like I Lupi have temporarily righted the ship. Can Paulo Fonseca push the injury-ravaged Roma forward, setting up the chance to leapfrog Atalanta in the standings?

Last Match

October 6, 2019: Roma 1, Cagliari 1

To put it plainly, this one was painful to watch. The end result, including a disallowed goal for Nikola Kalinić, resulted in Fonseca getting a red card, and a “handball” by Gianluca Mancini that wasn’t really a handball set up a points split between Cagliari and Roma. We have to hope that Roma has better luck with the referees this time around, or that Fonseca can keep his cool at the very least. Bren had it right when he summed up this one:

Need I say more? Whether it’s the mounting injuries, fatigue or something else entirely, Paulo Fonseca has to figure out his attack; his bread has always been buttered by his attacking philosophies, but if he doesn’t have that, what can he hang his hat on? They’re fortunate the defense has been resolute because the attack has been wanting for the past couple of weeks.

Carles Pérez’s injection notwithstanding, Roma is still having some trouble figuring out its attacking identity. I don’t think it will be entirely solved until a long-term replacement is found for Edin Džeko (where have I heard that before), but the Giallorossi’s win against Lecce does inspire some confidence that there is attacking power hiding somewhere in the Giallorossi squad. Fonseca just has to do a better job of making sure that power manifests itself on a weekly basis.

What To Watch For

Does Kalinić Have a Future with Roma?

Nikola Kalinic of As Roma during the Serie A match between... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

In his press conference before the match, Fonseca confirmed that Nikola Kalinić would be starting in attack in Sardinia. Considering how many minutes Edin Džeko’s been racking up recently, this isn’t a big surprise, but how Kalinic performs in this match might indicate if he has a long-term (or even medium-term) future with the Giallorossi. The Croat GOAT hasn’t lit up Serie A stadiums since joining Roma, and there were serious rumors suggesting that Gianluca Petrachi was trying to terminate his loan this winter. Obviously, that didn’t come to pass, and Roma still have an option to purchase the forward this summer, but considering his output so far I seriously doubt Roma intends to exercise that purchase clause. That could change if Kalinić finds form this spring. Considering that Edin Džeko is tired and looks as if his best days are past him, Roma needs more options at striker. Can Kalinić finally become one of those options, or will his loan spell at Roma confirm that he doesn’t have enough left in the tank to provide for a big club anymore?

The Absence of Amadou

Parma Calcio v AS Roma - Coppa Italia Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

It’s been a season of injuries for the Giallorossi, and Amadou Diawara hasn’t been exempted. Considering how good of a signing he’s been for Roma so far, it’s very difficult for Roma to succeed in Fonseca’s tactical system with him sidelined. Roma without Diawara feels more panicked and less in control of its attacking style. A Cristante-Veretout double-pivot is the midfield the papers are predicting; can it create the calmer approach to Fonseca Football that Diawara’s presence on the field ensures?