Roma’s last match against Bodø/Glimt has already entered the pantheon of nightmare Giallorossi games that will be forever burned into my subconscious. A small loss or even a draw would have been an unexpected result for José Mourinho’s men when they traveled up to Norway. The 6-1 drubbing that occurred promptly ended Mourinho’s honeymoon period in Rome and resulted in the exile of most of Roma’s bench, including promising players like Gonzalo Villar, Marash Kumbulla, and Bryan Reynolds.
Roma’s luck hasn’t exactly rebounded since that match, as I Lupi have won one, drawn one, and lost one in the last week and a half. If there was a time for Roma to get itself a signature win, it’d be now; an emphatic beatdown of Bodø/Glimt might kickstart a redemption story, particularly if it’s led by goals from one of Roma’s highly-talented but so far unlucky forwards.
Roma vs. Bodø/Glimt: November 4th. 21:00 CET/4:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
However, this match isn’t just a chance at redemption for the Giallorossi. It’s also a chance to seize first place in a group where such a result should be the minimum expectation. As it currently stands, Roma is one point behind Bodø/Glimt for first place in Group C. Although qualification is practically guaranteed for both sides given the poor performances of Zorya Luhansk and CSKA Sofia, let’s be real here and admit that not placing first in this group would be a source of major embarrassment. A win against Bodø at the Olimpico would go a long way towards getting Roma that first place spot, even if their miserable performance last time out means that the Europa Conference League is no longer a chance for a much-needed squad rotation.
What To Watch For
How Does Roma Stop Erik Botheim?
If Roma wants to get anything out of this return fixture, they’re going to have to find a way to contain Erik Botheim. The 21-year-old Norwegian youth international was absolutely unstoppable last time out, as his two goals and three assists played a huge role in setting up the shocking final score. Even beyond those goals and assists, though, Botheim’s passing accuracy (74 percent) and ability to win ground duels (four out of six) showed that if given space to breathe, Botheim can and will punish Roma in a million different ways.
The likely pairing of Gianluca Mancini with Roger Ibañez instead of Marash Kumbulla will certainly help the Giallorossi find more consistency in defense; the Mancini-Ibañez pairing is far more tested and has held its own against the likes of Victor Osimhen and João Pedro in recent weeks. Add in the fact that Roma won’t exactly be surprised by Botheim if he shows the same offensive spirit tomorrow, and there’s reason to be hopeful about the Giallorossi’s prospects of neutering the Bodø offense. Still, being anything other than extremely aggressive when planning for Botheim would be tactical malpractice on José Mourinho’s part.
Can Rui Patricio Show His True Self?
As mentioned earlier, it’s highly unlikely that most of the Roma side that started against Bodø on the 21st will see the pitch again tomorrow (or maybe ever, at least while José Mourinho is in charge). Despite that, one player who is practically guaranteed to see the pitch is Rui Patricio. Patricio definitely had a howler of a performance against Bodø last time out; he only made one save from inside the box and received a 5.0 match rating, the worst of all Roma players.
Now, a lot of a goalkeeper’s performance hinges on the defense he’s surrounded by, and it’s true that the equally terrible performances by Roger Ibañez, Max Kumbulla, Bryan Reynolds, and Riccardo Calafiori in Roma’s last ECL match did the Portuguese shot-stopper no favors. José Mourinho’s decision to likely forego rotation for the medium-term may be having a negative effect on some players’ stamina (more on that later), but it will at least provide Patricio with his tried-and-true A-team defense who he’s gelled with in Serie A to date. If Patricio wants to show that he’s more mentally prepared for hardship than nearly every other goalkeeper Roma has had since Alisson Becker, helping the Giallorossi to a clean sheet against Bodø would do wonders for his cause.
Will A Tired Mkhitaryan Turn It Around?
While it’s understandable that Roma’s defeat against Bodø has resulted in José Mourinho only trusting 12 or 13 players in the senior squad, there’s no denying that running those players into the ground has been having ill effects on their stamina and fitness. A key example of this is Henrikh Mkhitaryan, whose performances have been declining as Roma’s schedule has gotten more and more hectic. Mkhitaryan’s match ratings never went below 6.8 prior to the last international break, the combined effect of playing every match for club and country since then has made the Armenian look decidedly average, and sometimes even like the worst forward on the pitch.
Before Lorenzo Pellegrini picked up a knock prior to last weekend’s Milan match, I had been hoping that Mkhitaryan might get to rest up for an extended period, perhaps with Mourinho granting either Eldor Shomurodov or Stephan El Shaarawy a run in the starting eleven. With Pellegrini’s injury sidelining him from this match, it seems likely that Mkhitaryan will once again get the start, albeit perhaps from the attacking midfielder role usually inhabited by capitano.
If Mkhitaryan is given the chance to move off the left-wing, I’m hoping he can play a slightly less draining version of his style of play, allowing Stephan El Shaarawy and Nicolò Zaniolo to bomb up the wings when necessary and providing service to Tammy Abraham. Remember: Mkhitaryan is still the same player who scored five matches in a row to close out last season. Father Time may be undefeated, but I’m confident that Mkhitaryan has more to offer, particularly if he’s given the chance to breathe every now and then or even if he’s just given a slightly less mobile role.