Even if you take away some of the suspect refereeing work from Roma’s most recent Serie A match, the Giallorossi certainly underperformed yet again against a top side this weekend. As they travel to Florence to play fallen giants Fiorentina, they have to be hoping that their good form against sides in the bottom half of the table holds. If it doesn’t, it may extinguish the Giallorossi’s chances at achieving Champions League football through league play.
November 1, 2020: Roma 2, Fiorentina 0
Just like the scoreline against Milan belied a match where Milan often ran Roma ragged, Roma’s 2-0 win over Fiorentina in the first fixture undersold how well the Giallorossi played. This match could have easily been a 4-0 blowout at the Olimpico, but goals from Pedro and Leonardo Spinazzola still guaranteed a win for Paulo Fonseca.
Fiorentina vs. Roma: March 3rd. 20:45 CET/2:45 EST. Stadio Artemio Franchi, Firenze
Outside of the goalscorers, Lorenzo Pellegrini particularly impressed; his passing from this match should go in his highlight reel for this season, a season where he’s cemented himself as a key cog in Roma’s squad for the long-term. Add in a strong performance from the unfortunately-oft-injured Chris Smalling, and this match left you with a nice contented feeling.
What To Watch For
More From Mayoral?
It was true before the Milan match, and it’s true now: this is Borja Mayoral’s chance to show that he’s more than a capable backup who can rotate in against weaker Serie A and Europa League sides. He didn’t exactly convince against Milan, but even though Fiorentina are in fourteenth place, I’d still view them as a big enough club that Mayoral scoring a goal or two against them would be an indicator of more to come from him.
Edin Džeko is likely out for another week and a half, and the Giallorossi are in a rather congested part of their schedule. If Mayoral doesn’t play all of these matches, the only reason I can think of is that Roma don’t see him as a long-term fit. He needs to snatch every chance he gets, otherwise, the Friedkins will go shopping this summer for a big-money Džeko replacement.
Speaking of potential Džeko replacements, Fiorentina forward Dušan Vlahović is one of the more consistently-linked players to the Giallorossi these days. He’s not necessarily a ready-made superstar striker to replace the Bosnian Bomber (for that, you’ll probably need to go with Andrea Belotti), but he’s certainly an intriguing long-term option for a club that probably can’t afford a prime-age superstar striker.
We’ve written about Vlahović twice in the past couple of months, and we’ll probably write in-depth about him again if the rumors continue apace. He’s certainly one Fiorentina player to keep an eye on in a squad that’s largely been unimpressive this season.
In case you hadn’t noticed, the Giallorossi have a bit of an injury crisis in defense on their hands. While Roger Ibañez and Chris Smalling are still out for the eight count, Max Kumbulla is theoretically back and available this weekend. Although he was on the bench for Roma-Milan, he didn’t make the field as a substitute and considering Federico Fazio’s less-than-stellar play, one has to assume he wasn’t really match-fit. That’s a shame, because as we’ve said before, Kumbulla is a younger, better Peak Fazio in many respects.
As soon as he’s ready to go at 100 percent fitness, there’s no doubt that Kumbulla will start ahead of Fazio. Even if he’s only at 85 percent, though, I have to hope he’ll get subbed in by Fonseca and build up some match fitness. Roma needs capable defenders right now, particularly with a questionable situation at goalkeeper. If the Albanian international can come back from injury soon and turn himself into an undroppable player before Roger Ibañez returns, it’s more than likely that his play will keep Roma in the hunt for the Champions League. That’s what the Giallorossi need desperately; here’s hoping that their big defensive buy from last summer can deliver.