The early season enthusiasm has begun to wane just a bit in the Italian capital after a rough couple of weeks for José Mourinho’s Roma. The last three weeks have seen Roma give up eight goals to Bodø in two Conference League matches (1W-1D) and collect just one point combined from matches against Juve, Napoli, and Milan. The former was a shock to the system, while the latter is a worrying trend that has carried over from the Paulo Fonseca era.
Meanwhile, the side has seen drama with the 6-1 loss up in Norway prompting Mourinho to send five of his players to the stands. Throw in some controversial refereeing decisions and the last three weeks gave us plenty to discuss. For those who aren’t so familiar with the Giallorossi, this may seem crazy. But, to those of us that have been around a while, it feels like Roma Happened yet again.
Venezia vs Roma: November 7th. 6:30 EST/ 12:30 CET. Pier Luigi Penzo Stadium, Venezia.
Nevertheless, for as downtrodden as many may be feeling after another negative result against Bodø, we shouldn’t let recency bias cloud our judgment. After all, Mourinho and Pinto have continuously reminded us, that this is, in fact, a project. And, even though Roma has hit a rough stretch, the Giallorossi are still sitting fourth in the league table.
Therefore, all things considered, it could be a lot worse. And on the horizon is a very winnable match that could get the Giallorossi back on track before another international break.
So, as Roma embarks on a journey to the city of canals, let's take a look at the possible keys to a Roma victory in Venezia.
What To Watch For
Can the Offense Get Clicking?
There’s no doubting that Roma has some very promising attacking talents in the form of Lorenzo Pellegrini, Nicolo Zaniolo, and Tammy Abraham. Throw in the likes of veterans like Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Stephan El Shaarawy—plus nice complementary pieces like Eldor Shomurodov, Carles Pérez, and Borja Mayoral—and José Mourinho has a stable of attackers to work with. And early in the season, the attack looked like the strength of this side.
However, after scoring 14 goals in the first six league matches of the season, the Giallorossi have scored just five goals in their last five league matches. Granted, facing the likes of Juventus, Napoli, and AC Milan will give even the best attacking players fits, but those matches were especially frustrating when you consider just how little a disjointed Roma attack was able to create.
There’s no doubting that Pellegrini has more than held up his end of the bargain. The Roma skipper already has five goals and two assists as he grows into the face of the franchise. However, Abraham, despite offering a solid all-around game, has struggled in recent weeks and has now scored just twice in 11 league matches. Add in the fact that Zaniolo has yet to score in the league and it becomes clear that Pellegrini needs some help.
Mkhitaryan who has been the other regular starter in the attacking quartet has looked like a shell of his former self in recent weeks. Thus, this match could be a good time for El Shaarawy’s second league start. Il Faraone has averaged 0.56 goals per 90—best in the side— and scored in the Conference League on Thursday, so Mourinho may want to ride his hottest hand.
No matter who starts, the Roma attack will need to be better against a middle-of-the-pack Venezia defense that has conceded 17 times in 11 matches.
Will Roma’s Defense Stymy an Anemic Venezia Attack?
While we Romanisti may be ruing just how poor Roma’s attack has been of late, it can always be worse. In eleven matches this season, Venezia has scored just eight goals in eleven league matches. That’s correct. Eight!
The most dangerous member of the home side’s attack is their number 10: Mattia Aramu. Aramu, who usually plays wide in the attacking trio of Venezia’s 4-3-3, has been directly involved in half of the side’s league goals (3 goals, 1 assist) despite starting just six matches.
The Giallorossi have the joint third-best defense in the league having conceded 12 times in 11 matches. Even in Roma’s recent rough patch against some of the league’s biggest sides, Roma has conceded just four times in four matches. Considering the overall solidity of Roma’s backline and the lack of goals this season for the home side, this looks like a match where the Giallorossi should target no less than a clean sheet.
Will Mourinho Mix Up His Starting Eleven?
Despite a busy run of league matches, Mourinho has stuck by his preferred starting eleven week-in-and-week-out, but we all know what happened when the Roma CT made heavy changes in the Conference League against Bodø in Norway last month. So, outside of two injury-forced changes for Matías Viña and Lorenzo Pellegrini, the changes in the return fixture last Thursday were few and far between.
According to Friday’s updates, both players trained individually, but the Gazzetta dello Sport projects that Viña will likely miss this match due to muscle fatigue. However, the publication says Pellegrini is expected to try and play through knee inflammation.
If Viña is in fact out, then this could be Riccardo Calafiori’s chance to catch Mourinho’s eye with just his third league start. The other player who could be due for a start is El Shaarawy in place of Mkhitaryan. Those two have been trending in different directions over the last few weeks
However, other than that, it’s hard to see where else Mourinho could mix things up. Would he bench Abraham for Shomurodov? Could he opt for Pérez over Zaniolo? If he didn’t do it in Thursday’s Conference League match, then it’s unlikely he does it here.
This poll is closed
Roma Wins Emphatically
Roma Wins a Nailbitter
Roma’s Ship Sinks in the Venetian Lagoon