On Sunday in Naples, Paulo Fonseca attempted to take the bull by the horns. After back-to-back listless performances, Fonseca made a tactical switch to a three-man back line. The switch in formation, along with the heavy personnel turnover, seemed to inject some life into a reeling Roma side. However, it wasn’t enough as the Giallorossi still fell at the San Paolo for their third straight defeat.
It’s the second time this calendar year that Roma has lost three straight in the league. In fact, since the beginning of 2020, Roma has the fifth fewest points in Serie A. With such a drop-off in performance, the Giallorossi are now desperately clinging to a Europa League spot. Roma is now even joint fifth with Napoli, two points ahead of Milan and six ahead of surprise package Hellas Verona. The ever tightening standings make a victory all the more necessary on Wednesday.
Roma v. Parma: July 8th. 21:45 CET/3:45 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Rome.
Of course, the returns to the pitch of Pau Lopez and Nicolò Zaniolo on Sunday will bring some optimism for the stretch run. But on the flip side, Roma will be sweating the loss of Chris Smalling due to a muscle injury. The severity of that strain could really test Roma’s back line.
Meanwhile, Parma has also struggled since returning to action in June. I Ducali have hovered on the cusp of the Europa League spots for much of the season, but three straight losses have seen them fall to twelfth in the table. With that in mind, this one should feature two sides desperate to get back to winning ways.
Last League Match
November 10, 2019: Parma 2, Roma 0
This match was the last in a brutal stretch for an injury depleted Roma side. Seven matches in 22 days was just too much for short-handed Roma to bear, as a compact Parma punished a Roma side bereft of idea.
Roma controlled more than 60% of possession in this one, but just couldn’t put enough quality shots on target. Aleksandar Kolarov hit the post on a free-kick and Luigi Sepe made a big save on the rebound to keep out Roma’s best chance. A Cengiz Ünder rocket from distance was kept out later in the match by Sepe, as well. But outside of that, none of the rest of Roma’s 17 shots was particularly dangerous.
Parma on the other hand, despite being considerably out-possessed, consistently tested Pau Lopez with eight shots on target. Parma finally broke the deadlock through substitute Mattia Sprocati in the 68th minute. Then Andreas Cornelius, who was a danger throughout the match, sealed the three points for Parma in stoppage time.
*Note- Roma did play Parma a second time this season in the Coppa Italia Round of 16. That trip to the Tardini was much more fruitful for the Giallorossi. Roma defeated Parma 2-0 behind a Lorenzo Pellegrini double. Highlights of that one can be seen below.
What To Watch For
Roma Needs to Build on Sunday’s Positives
The outcome of the match may not have been what the Giallorossi were hoping for, but there were some positives to build off of from Sunday’s trip to the San Paolo.For one, the Giallorossi got on the scoresheet for the first time in two matches. Fonseca’s side also looked dangerous at various points in the match. That’s much more than can be said for the Udinese and Milan losses.
Roma will have to sustain its attack for longer periods going forward, but the signs were there that the Giallorossi may be rounding into form a bit. In this match, Roma should control much more possession than they did against Napoli. How the Giallorossi utilize that possession will be key. In the first match up in Parma, Roma took the majority of its shots from outside the box. That’s not going to get it done. Which brings us to our next point.
Roma Needs to Shoot More
Despite the Roma looking a bit better in attack on Sunday, the Giallorossi still aren’t shooting the ball enough. After unleashing 23 shots (10 on target) in their return to action against Sampdoria, the Giallorossi haven’t come close to matching that output over the last three matches. Against Napoli on Sunday, Roma managed just seven shots and only three on target, which was just about on par with seven shots (one on target) against Milan.
This may be stating the obvious, but if you don’t shoot you can’t score. Roma will have to get back to those Sampdoria numbers if the Giallorossi expect to pick up their goal scoring rate. Roma’s xG the last three matches has been under one each time. And for good reason. You can’t expect to score many goals if you aren’t putting shots on target.
Parma’s Speedy Counter-Attack
The Gialloblu are generally content to keep a compact shape and cede possession to their opponents. As we saw the first time these teams met, Parma will frustrate an opposing attack by limiting it’s quality chances while waiting for the right time to strike. In that match, Parma’s second goal came on the counter-attack as the Giallorossi threw men forward trying to equalize.
With one of the lowest possession rates in the league (44.8%), Parma has to be dangerous when an opportunity presents itself. And with speedy wingers Gervinho and Dejan Kuluseveski, the Ducali boast the statistically most dangerous counter-attack in Serie A. Parma has hit opponents eight times in this fashion, more than any other team in the league.
Meanwhile, Roma have conceded five times to a counter-attack—joint worst in the league. The Giallorossi will have to limit Parma’s chances on the break if they’re to get three points out of this one. Because Parma has proven to be deadly when given space to run in the open field.