Roma are certainly on bare bones at the moment, with nearly everyone not named Lorenzo Pellegrini struggling with the injury bug in one way or the other (or, in the case of Riccardo Calafiori, Football-To-The-Head-From-A-Ballboy-Itis). If the first part of this weekend’s Serie A tie is any indicator, though, a win should still be a reasonable goal for Paulo Fonseca’s men.
Roma vs. Bologna: April 11th. 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
Before we delve into Sunday's fixture, a quick look back at Roma's shellacking of Bologna from the fall.
December 13, 2020: Bologna 1, Roma 5
Roma handled Bologna quite nicely in December, with goals from Edin Džeko, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Bryan Cristante, Jordan Veretout, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan leading to the most dominant win Roma has had this season. Here’s what Bren had to say afterwards:
Bologna are about as mid-table as a club can get, and were missing a few regular pieces to their lineup, but Roma left no room for doubt in this match, passing circles around their hosts in an absolute rout. With a few more twists and turns, this match could have easily ended 9-2; it was that wide open and free-flowing.
While they let up a bit in the second half, this was an incredibly convincing, top-down dominant effort from Roma this afternoon; one that occurred while the manager was suspended, so top marks to Nuno Campos for getting the job done while his boss was in the press-box.
Boy, I wish we had more dominant wins like this one for the end-of-the-season highlight reel. If the depleted Giallorossi rack up a similar win against Bologna on Sunday, it’ll be a massive surprise, but a welcome one.
What To Watch For
Can Roma Push In Two Competitions At Once?
If you’ve been paying any attention to the Giallorossi in the past few weeks, you know that the wheels have essentially fallen off their attempts to achieve Champions League football through league play. They’re now lying in 7th place in Serie A, with seven points separating them from fourth-placed Atalanta. This essentially means that if Roma have aspirations beyond the Europa League (or, worse still, no European competition) next season, they’re going to have to bring the club its first trophy in quite some time.
Even if the Giallorossi focus on the Europa League, though, they’re still going to have to put in as strong a showing in Serie A as possible. A Europa League finals appearance with a 7th or 8th place end result in Serie A will be an embarrassment and likely result in a squad overhaul; winning the Europa League will likely cover up a lot of the Serie A-level issues this squad has shown, at least for another season. The question is if Paulo Fonseca can successfully juggle the final stages of the Europa League with the remaining weeks of Serie A. If he can, there’s a good chance he’ll be sticking around in Rome for the long term. If not? Well, back to Roma 1.0, for the fourth or fifth time.
Hey Ricky, You’re So Fine
As bren’s injury update mentioned, Leonardo Spinazzola is likely to be out for a bit after sustaining a thigh injury against Ajax on Thursday. Obviously this is a huge blow to Roma’s chances in any competition; Spinazzola has proven indispensable this season and is arguably Roma’s second-best Italian in the squad. Yet Leonardo’s misfortune gives another opportunity to another Italian left-back to solidify his role in the side. I’m speaking, of course, about Riccardo Calafiori.
Calafiori is definitely Roma’s next Roman in line behind Lorenzo Pellegrini, but his position in the squad isn’t completely secure just yet. He’s shown he has the ability to play with the big boys in his limited minutes this season, but many of his appearances haven’t been excellent; they’ve merely provided a serviceable replacement when Spinazzola has been off the pitch. Assuming Bruno Peres doesn’t eat up the bulk of Spinazzola’s minutes (and I certainly hope he won’t), the next week and a half will hopefully show us whether the Calafiori is ready for the limelight, or if he might need a season away from Rome to become the player he’s shown us glimpses of so far in his career.
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