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Serie A Matchday 19 Recap: Roma Gains Ground on a Handful of Champions League Challengers

With Inter, Milan, Napoli, and Sassuolo dropping points, this turned into a very good weekend for Roma.

Coach Paulo Fonseca (Roma) during the Serie A Tim match... Photo by Giuseppe Fama/Pacific Press/LightRocket via Getty Images

As we mentioned earlier in the week in our new Serie A preview series, this season, more than ever, Romanisti will be keeping an eye on a number of other teams. With the race for the top four more open than ever before, Roma has a great shot at Champions League qualification but along the way, they'll also face more direct competition than ever before. Case in point: heading into the weekend, third place Napoli and eighth place Sassuolo were separated by just four points in the table.

Meanwhile, Roma entered round 19 right in the thick of things, level with Napoli on 34 points—nine points off the top, but only seven above ninth place Verona. The tight competition makes for great viewing, but also means that a bad two-to-three match stretch can severely hamper Roma’s ambitions.

There, it was imperative that Roma got back to winning ways this weekend, which it did in the most nerve-wracking way possible. And while Roma’s win looked big at the moment, early on Saturday, it looks even bigger now when seeing how the rest of the matchday played out around the league.

So, let’s take a look at the results that directly affect Roma in the table and where it leaves the Giallorossi at the halfway point of the season.

Serie A Matchday 19 Results

AC Milan 0, Atalanta 3

Top of the table Milan took the pitch on Saturd looking to secure the title of winter champions. The Rossoneri took on an Atalanta side coming off of back-to-back surprising draws to Genoa and Udinese. It looked like things had lined up for Milan to capitalize on a somewhat sputtering Atalanta, but, if recent seasons have taught us anything, we should’ve expected Gasperini to have his troops ready for this one.

La Dea again stepped up in a big match, defeating Milan in a resounding three-nil victory. Goals from Christian Romero, Josep Ilicic, and Duvan Zapata made the day one to forget for Stefano Pioli’s side as Atalanta took it to Milan.

With the win, Atalanta picked up three vital points in its quest to return to the Champions League for the third straight season. La Dea moved to fifth in the table with 36 points, level with Juventus, and just a point behind Roma.

That number right there shows just how vital the win over Spezia was for Roma: right now it means the difference between third and fifth. Additionally, Milan’s loss means the Giallorossi are now just six points off the leaders. If the Rossoneri don’t bounce back quick they could easily find themselves in a dogfight just to stay in the Champions League places.

Udinese 0, Inter 0

Credit Udinese, as the Friuli-based side once again frustrated one of the top sides in Serie A. After holding Atalanta to just a point on Wednesday, the Zebrette held Inter scoreless in a rain-soaked match in Italy’s northeast. The Nerazzurri controlled 61% of possession but put just four of their ten shots on target.

Udinese’s three center back’s—Kevin Bonifazi, Rodrigo Becao, and Samir—combined for 11 interceptions and three clearances, as Antonio Conte’s side struggled to breakdown the home side. Luca Gotti’s squad earned yet another crucial point as it inches up the table away from the relegation zone—and became Roma’s best friend this week.

Meanwhile, for Inter, it was a missed opportunity to pull even with city rivals Milan at the top of the table. The Nerazzurri are now two points behind Milan on 41 points, but will have to keep an eye on the rearview mirror as Roma are just four behind, while Juve and Atalanta five behind.

Juventus 2, Bologna 0

Leave it to the Bianconeri to strike when there’s the scent of blood in the water. Juventus regrouped from last weekend’s humbling defeat in the Derby D’Italia by knocking off Bologna 2-0 at the Allianz Arena. The defending champions showed that they aren’t going to roll over and deliver the Scudetto to one of the Milanese clubs without a fight.

In this one, Juve didn’t dominate possession (53%), but peppered Lukasz Skorpuski with 23 shots (11 on target), while limiting Bologna to only two shots on target. The goals came early from Artur Melo (15’) and late from Weston McKennie (71’).

With the win, Juve remains one point behind Roma with a match in hand, while also leapfrogging Napoli in the process. The Giallorossi travel to the Allianz Arena in two weeks' time and while matches against Juve always take on special meaning, this one could have direct table implications.

Hellas Verona 3, Napoli 1

Roma’s next opponent, Hellas Verona, pulled out a resounding victory at the Bentigodi on Sunday. The Mastiffs fell behind just seven seconds into the match when a Federico Dimarco whiff—ala Chris Smalling against Spezia on Saturday—allowed Hirving Lozano to score. It was a shocker, considering Verona’s strong defensive record.

However, it was the same Dimarco who leveled the match in the 34th minute and Verona didn’t look back from there. Goals from Antonin Barak and Mattia Zaccagni in the second half led the home side to three points. It was an impressive haul as Napoli entered the match with the fewest goals conceded.

The result saw Napoli fall from 3rd to 6th on 34 points with a match in hand on most teams. It was another good result for Roma, but hopefully, the Giallorossi took note of what Verona is capable of ahead of next Sunday’s match. For its part, the Veronese side is doing just enough to stay in the European competition with 30 points through 19 matches.

Sassuolo 1, Lazio 2

Yet another matchup of teams with European aspirations saw 7th place Lazio travel to Emilia-Romagna to face 8th place Sassuolo. Lazio entered flying high after last Friday’s derby victory—its third straight league win—but it was the home side that struck first as Ciccio Caputo put Sassuolo up just six minutes in.

Nonetheless, it was the in-form side, Lazio, that controlled the match from there on out. Sassuolo didn’t have another shot the rest of the match, while Lazio unleashed 20 with six on target. Two of those six found the back of the net. Sergej Milinkovic-Savic leveled the match with a powerful header in the 25th minute and Ciro Immobile knocked home the match-winner in the 71st.

The win means Lazio drew level with Napoli on 34 points, but remain in 7th place. Sassuolo, meanwhile, is now level with Hellas, who takes eighth place on a tiebreaker. Lazio has now won four straight in the league and are closing in on the top four.

Other Results

  • Benevento 2, Torino 2
  • Fiorentina 2, Crotone 1
  • Genoa 1, Cagliari 0
  • Parma 0, Sampdoria 2

FiveThirtyEight Top Four Probabilities

The odds currently project Roma finishing 5th.

After each matchday, data site FiveThirtyEight projects where each team will finish by the end of the season. Currently, the site tips Inter to win the Scudetto (35% chance) with an 85% chance to qualify for the Champions League despite its draw in Udine. The site also strongly favors Juve (72%), Atalanta (72%), and Milan (69%) to finish in the top four. Meanwhile, it projects Roma to finish fifth with a 44% chance to qualify for the Champions League, with Napoli (41%) and Lazio (16%) coming in just behind the Giallorossi.

Obviously, these projections can change greatly from week to week, but it’s worth noting that the computers don’t favor the Giallorossi. However, with half a season to go, it’ll be interesting to see how Roma’s chances ebb and flow along with those of the other contenders. With matches against Hellas and Juve in the next two weeks, we could learn a lot about this Roma side. So, keep checking back with us for the weekly match preview and round-ups.