With a dozen matchdays remaining, Paulo Fonseca’s Roma finds itself in an enviable position: the Giallorossi currently sits fourth—the last Champions League qualification place. However, their advantage over fifth place Atalanta is razor thin. Just one point separates Roma from its biggest threat to UCL football next season.
That means these last twelve matches will have the feel of twelve finals for Fonseca’s side; no matter how big or small the opposition. This week’s match will be no different. Roma will be traveling to the Tardini to face a 19th place Parma side that looks destined for relegation.
On paper this match looks like a walkover for Roma. Nevertheless, the Giallorossi will have to remain focused on the task at hand. Considering the match is sandwiched in between the two legs against Shakhtar Donetsk, the Giallorossi can’t get caught looking behind or ahead. One little slip up against a team like Parma could spell disaster in the long run.
That’s especially true when you consider that most of Roma’s direct rivals will also be heavy favorites this week. Most play other relegation battling sides, but there is one direct encounter that Roma could take advantage of by taking maximum points in Emilia-Romagna.
So, let’s peruse the peninsula and see what matchday 27 has in store for us this weekend.
*Note the different start times this weekend due to daylight savings on Saturday night in the US.
Perusing the Peninsula: Matchday 27 Previews
The Best Non-Roma Match of the Week
AC Milan (2nd place) vs Napoli (6th place): Sunday 3:45 EST
This match has big Champions League qualifications implications tied to it as second-place Milan only leads sixth-place Napoli by nine points in the standings (Napoli also has a match in hand). This match is the start of a grueling stretch for the Neapolitans as they travel to Milan, Juve, and Roma in an eight-day stretch.
A win in this one and the match in hand Wednesday could pull Napoli within just three of Milan heading into the match with Roma on the 21st. Meanwhile, failing to obtain results in those three matches could spell disaster for Gennaro Gattuso and his side.
Despite both sides winning on matchday 26, neither has been in great form of late. Milan is currently dealing with a bunch of key injuries and will be coming off a Thursday night match against Manchester United. If fatigue becomes an issue, it could play into Napoli’s hands.
The first time these sides met, Milan took care of business at home 3-1 despite controlling only 37% possession. We’ll see how it plays out this time, but no matter which way this one plays out, Roma could benefit.
Matches Featuring Top Four Challengers
Lazio (7th place) vs Crotone (20th place): Friday 9:00EST
After starting the 2021 calendar year in scintillating form (6W, 1D) to pull themselves back into the UCL qualification race, Lazio has begun to falter of late. The Biancoceleste have lost three of their last four in the league and were hammered in UCL by Bayern Munich in recent weeks.
The Rossoblu are mired in last place and have struggled against top sides this season. However, Crotone did score four against fellow relegation battlers Torino last weekend—something that could give them a bit of confidence.
The Biancoceleste won the reverse fixture down in Calabria 2-0 and will be heavily favored with this one taking place at the Olimpico. However, the other two times in this series history that Lazio won the reverse fixture, Crotone took points in the second match. Could history repeat itself again?
Atalanta (5th place) vs Spezia (15th place): Friday 2:45 EST
La Dea will enter this one looking to bounce back from a tough 1-0 defeat at the hands of top of the table Inter on Monday. It’s a fairly quick turnaround for Gasperini's men because of Tuesday’s second leg match at Real Madrid. So, Spezia will come into this one a bit fresher.
However, the Liguria-based side has sputtered a bit of late after starting their maiden Serie A campaign in decent form, especially on the road. Spezia has lost three of its last four away from home, after losing only three of its first nine road matches. And we all know how tough it is to play in Bergamo.
The reverse fixture saw Spezia hold Atalanta to a 0-0 draw. Not something you see every day in a La Dea fixture. Atalanta hasn’t been shut out twice by a newly promoted side since 13/14 against Sassuolo. With that in mind, Vincenzo Italiano’s side has a tall task.
Torino (18th place) vs Inter Milan (1st place): Sunday 10:00 EST
With the form that Antonio Conte’s Inter side is on, this one looks to be elementary for the Nerazzurri. Inter has opened up a six-point gap at the top and has shown no signs of slowing down after beating Atalanta 1-0 on Monday.
Meanwhile, Torino have fallen to 18th place in recent weeks after losing to Crotone and having two matches postponed. In the reverse fixture, Inter hung four on Torino in a 4-2 victory. It’s hard to see this one finishing favorably for Il Toro, as Conte as his side locked in.
Cagliari (17th place) vs Juventus (3rd place): Sunday 1:00 EST
Yet another match featuring a top seven side against a relegation fighting side, features Juve hosting Cagliari. The Sardinian side has climbed out of the bottom three with points in its last three matches since Leonardo Semplici took over for Eusebio Di Francesco, but this will be his toughest test to date.
Juve for its part is coming off a big win against Lazio last weekend, which further solidified its top four position and the reverse fixture saw Juve win 2-0 at home. However, this one is sandwiched between a loss against Porto in the Champions League that saw Juve crash out of the competition and a make-up game against Napoli on Wednesday.
Could Semplici use that to Cagliari’s advantage? Sardinia is never an easy place to travel to and Semplici has successfully navigated the relegation waters with SPAL in the past, so there’s always a chance.
- Sassuolo (9th place) vs Hellas Verona (8th place)- Saturday 9:00 EST
- Benevento (16th place) vs Fiorentina (14th place)- Saturday 12:00 EST
- Genoa (13th place) vs Udinese (11th place)- Saturday 14:45 EST
- Bologna (12th place) vs Sampdoria (10th place)- Sunday 7:30 EST
This poll is closed