Last weekend in the Romaverse started out in nerve-wracking fashion when the Giallorossi were just moments away from dropping two key points against Spezia. However, as you’re well aware of by now, Lorenzo Pellegrini’s stoppage-time winner salvaged three vital points for Roma, moving them into third place.
With Roma playing the early Saturday match last week, there was plenty of scoreboard watching to do over the rest of the weekend. And, as it turned out, the scoreboard watching turned into a fairly enjoyable exercise, as Milan, Inter, and Napoli all dropped points. Those results allowed Roma to close the gap at the top to six points and move further ahead of Napoli, who are now in sixth place.
Things will be reversed this round, with Roma's competitors playing earlier in the weekend and the Giallorossi playing the Sunday night match in Italy, which means we'll know just how much maneuvering the Giallorossi can do on the table. Or, conversely, just how damaging dropped points against Verona will be.
So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at the matches that mean the most to Roma’s table position in week 20.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 20 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match of the Week
Atalanta (5th place) vs Lazio (7th place): Sunday 9 AM EST
If you’re only able to watch one match besides Roma’s showdown with Hellas Verona at the Olimpico, this is the one to tune into. This could be a big swing-match in the race for European places with 7th place Lazio (34 points) traveling to Bergamo to face 5th place (Atalanta). With the teams separated by only two points in the table, this match could have big implications for both sides.
Adding fuel to the fire is the fact that these teams just met on Wednesday in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. In that match, Atalanta pulled out a 3-2 victory despite being behind 2-1 and going down a man at 2-2. Couple that with a 4-1 victory over the Biancoceleste to start the season and La Dea has had Lazio’s number so far.
Lazio enters on a four-match win streak in the league after defeating Sassuolo 2-1 in Emilia-Romagna on Sunday. Meanwhile, Atalanta put back-to-back draws behind them by dismantling top of the table Milan—this match will feature two in-form teams that are both within three points of the Giallorossi.
With that in mind, a draw would probably serve Roma best, especially if the Giallorossi finds a way to win against Hellas. However, if Roma slip up and one of these teams win, then the Giallorossi could find themselves looking up at the winner from outside the top four. With all that in mind, I’d plan on enjoying this one with my Sunday coffee.
Other Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Bologna (13th place) vs Milan (1st): Saturday 9 AM EST
This match sees top of the table Milan coming off a rough four-day stretch: a humbling 3-0 loss to Atalanta last Saturday, which was followed by a humiliating 2-1 exit from the Coppa Italia to rivals Inter that saw Zlatan Ibrahimovic red-carded and the Rossoneri conceding the winner in stoppage time after leading.
Luckily for the Rossoneri, the loss to Inter was in the cup, and their city rival’s draw last weekend means they remain top of the table. However, things are getting tighter at the top.
The Rossoneri will have to put the losses behind them quickly or the table’s top spot could be in jeopardy. Milan will come into this one favored, but the Rossoblu will be no walk in the park. This match will certainly test Milan’s mental fortitude to overcome adversity—something it hasn’t dealt with much this season.
Bologna enters this match off a 2-0 loss to Juve but beat Hellas 1-0 the week before. The Rossoblu have been underwhelming this season, but individual talents like Riccardo Orsolini and Musa Barrow could make Milan pay. The Giallorossi will certainly be hoping for Milan to drop points, which would drag the Rossoneri into the thick of the top-four fight.
Sampdoria (10th place) vs Juventus (4th place): Saturday Noon EST
This one is worth keeping an eye on for a couple of reasons. For one, Juve sits just one point behind the Giallorossi in 4th place but have a game in hand. Secondly, Roma will head to Turin next weekend for a huge head-to-head with the Bianconeri.
Juve enters this one coming off a league win against Bologna followed by a Coppa win over SPAL and will look to continue to put pressure on the teams ahead of them in the table. The nine-time defending Scudetto winners may not be the favorites to win the title again at the moment, but more weekends like last could see that change. Standing in their way this weekend is an old friend of the Giallorossi: Claudio Ranieri.
Ranieri currently has Sampdoria sitting comfortably mid-table with wins in three of the last four. However, Sampdoria have been tough to figure out this season. Juve handled the Blucerchiati 3-0 in the opening match of the season, but just about a month ago Samp beat Inter, so the potential to rise to the occasion is still there for Bologna.
For its part, Roma will hope that Ranieri can break Juve’s form before next week’s big match.
Inter (2nd place) vs Benevento (11th place): Saturday 2:45 EST
Inter enter this match just two points off city rivals Milan at the top of the table. The Nerazzurri bounced back from a surprising draw in Udine last weekend by eliminating their aforementioned rivals from the Coppa Italia in a scintillating match. Therefore, they should be riding high entering this match against Benevento.
After returning to Italy's topfilght this season, Benevento has done a great job to solidify their safety in Serie A, sitting comfortably in 11th place. However, the Sorcerers enter this one scuffling just a bit. Benevento blew a two-goal lead in the second half against Torino last Friday, as Simone Zaza’s brace robbed them of two points. That match was preceded by matching 4-1 beatdowns at the hands of Atalanta and Crotone.
Inter defeated Benevento 5-2 in the opening round of the season and should enter as heavy favorites again. This one seems like a foregone conclusion unless Inter gets caught looking ahead to next Wednesday’s Coppa Italia semifinal against Juve.
Napoli (6th place) vs Parma (19th place): Sunday Noon EST
Napoli enters this match trailing Roma by three points in the standings with a match in hand. The Partenopei will be looking to bounce back quickly from last weekend’s loss to Hellas which has some questioning Gennaro Gattuso’s job security.
And while Roma benefited from Napoli’s loss at the hands of Verona, the Giallorossi should be wary of a similar result. Napoli’s previous weekend serves as a prime example of just how much a single match day can influence the top-four race. The loss dropped Napoli from 3rd to 6th; Roma won’t want to replicate that fate when it hosts Verona on Sunday.
For Napoli, this match could be just what the doctor ordered. Parma has been in free fall and hasn’t won in the league since late November when it knocked off Genoa. That 10-match winless streak has Parma sitting 19th with just two league wins. Napoli will be favored to replicate its 2-0 win against the Ducali to open the season. However, keep an eye on this one because a pair of Parma’s 7 draws have come against the Milanese sides.
- Torino (17th place) vs Fiorentina (12th place) -Friday 14:45 EST
- Spezia (15th place) vs Udinese (14th place) -Sunday 6:30 EST
- Cagliari (18th place) vs Sassuolo (9th place) -Sunday 9:00 EST
- Crotone (20th place) vs Genoa (16th place) -Sunday 9:00 EST
What do you predict will be the result of Lazio vs Atalanta?
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