As the first month of the Gregorian Calendar, January is always a time for renewed optimism; a chance to forget all the sour notes of the year gone by and attack the new set of 365 sunrises with a fresh set of eyes. But when that January kicks off a new decade, the emphasis on renewal, on optimism and on changing one's circumstances carries added significance.
I'm not sure what's going on in your personal life—maybe you got engaged, landed your dream job, or got one of those peanut shells with three nuts in them—but the new decade has not been kind to your favorite football club thus far.
Buuuutttt, there were some bright spots, so let's run it back!
Story of the Month: Alessandro Florenzi to Valencia
There are certainly worse fates in life than living in Valencia for six months, but given his standing with the club and his emotional bond to the fans, Roma tossing Alessandro Florenzi aside, even on a temporary basis, will automatically be the story of the month, if not the year.
Florenzi was certainly not without his faults, but he wasn’t nearly as poor as his detractors made him out to be. The larger problem with Florenzi was simply the city of his birth; Roma. Given that he was a born and bred Roman and came up through the system in virtually the same way as Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi before him, nothing with Alessandro Florenzi—good, bad or indifferent—was ever cut and dry. As much as we tried, we couldn't divorce the city of his birth from the product on the pitch, for better or worse.
Florenzi has taken it all in stride of course, not lashing out at anyone and dutifully resigning himself to his new fate, but the worst part of this transfer is that we’ll have to go through all of this again in the summer when his loan expires.
Low Point of the Month: Zaniolo & Diawara Injuries
There’s no disputing that Roma had a difficult January based on the results on the pitch. However, the dropped points weren’t the worst thing that happened to the club last month. The dubious distinction of January low point has to be the double injury blow suffered by Nicolò Zaniolo and Amadou Diawara. Since the two budding stars went down, the team’s results have suffered. Zaniolo is done for the season and Diawara could be as well. For Roma to finish in the top four, it will have to find a way to make up for the losses of two of its most influential players.
High Point of the Month: The Derby Draw
I know, I know. It’s a bit strange to have a draw stand as the brightest spot of Roma’s month, but as we mentioned at the outset, January was kind of a drag for the Giallorossi. With both capital clubs looking to gain and/or secure ground in the top four, this was arguably the most consequential derby we’ve seen in years and that sense of urgency transmitted into Roma’s play on the pitch.
Fonseca’s crew held two-thirds of the possession, completed 90% of their passes and amassed an astounding 22 shots, though, continuing with their theme of the month, only three were on target. Roma was wasteful in the area but still won the xG goals battle 2.10 to 1.06.
Roma’s 3-1 victory over Genoa may have grabbed more headlines, but Roma held one of the best squads in the league in check for nearly the entire match, looking more direct, aggressive and better organized than we saw in the month’s other contests.
Goal of the Month: Manuela Giugliano vs Bari
Roma’s match against Bari on January 11th was the Giallorosse’s first competitive match in nearly a month at that point. While Roma ended 2019 on a high note waxing Orobica 6-0, 30 days without football can take the juice out of any squad. So when Roma hit the road to face lowly Bari, we couldn’t assume a victory.
But no one told that to Manuela Giugliano, who erased all doubt after five minutes with a beautifully struck 25-yarder. The only thing that’s better than having a dynamic playmaker in the middle of the pitch, is having a dynamic playmaker in the middle of the pitch who isn’t afraid to have a pop like this. A brilliant goal from a brilliant player.
Women’s Recap: A Win, a Draw and an Opportunity Lost
Unfortunately, January was only modestly kinder to the Giallorosse than the Giallorossi. Betty Bavagnoli’s team had only three league matches during January, two of which came against Milan and Fiorentina, the very clubs they’re vying with for second place. And for a minute it looked like Roma were ready to take their place just below Juventus in the league pecking order, but after letting a two-goal lead against Milan slip through their fingers, Roma let a golden opportunity vanish in the wind—a victory against Milan would have set up a six-pointer for sole control of second place against Fiorentina the following week.
Roma would rebound from their Milan disaster by stealing a point at the death from Fiorentina, but what initially looked like a month of celebration quickly turned into 31 days of frustration for the Giallorosse.
Hero of the Month: Cengiz Ünder & Lindsey Thomas
The first month of the new decade was a slog for both of Roma’s senior teams, but two of the most explosive athletes in the organization take the honors this month. With three goals in January, including a brace against AC Milan, Lindsey Thomas started the new year off on the right foot, not only providing Roma with her blazing runs but a more focused eye for goal, something that has already carried over into February. With nine goals in fourteen appearances, Thomas’ goal-scoring ratio is off the charts and she's only four off the capocannoniere pace.
While Cengiz can’t match her January scoring rate, his rebirth could not have come at a better time for Roma. With Nicolo Zaniolo out for the year with a torn ACL, Paulo Fonseca was in dire of need of some skill and creativity on the wings. With a golazo of his own against Genoa and a man of the match performance against Lazio (three key passes, three long balls and nine dribbles), Ünder reminded us all of what a special player he can be.
Out of Context CdT Tweet of the Month
Not sure who did this, but I'm in tears...haha pic.twitter.com/DtEPU6YsVp— Chiesa di Totti (@chiesaditotti) January 28, 2020
I could stumble across this image ten years from now and it would still make me laugh out loud. The perfect marriage of image, moment and editing skills.
That's all she wrote for January, we can only hope that February, the shortest month of the year, is a bit more kind to Roma.
What was your story of the month?
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The Zaniolo and Diawara Injuries
Lindsey Thomas’ goal scoring binge