There’s an old saying in the Northeastern United States that March comes in like a lion and goes out like a lamb as the weather transitions from the bitter cold of February to the milder spring temperatures of spring. If that same analogy was made for Roma this past month or so, it would probably read that Roma came in like a wolf and left like a chihuahua.
After dropping two more points to Sassuolo on Saturday, the Giallorossi’s March swoon continued into April. Yet another match with dropped points was made even more damaging by wins for Napoli, Atalanta, and Lazio, who have all leaped over Roma in recent weeks. Meanwhile, Roma was unable to capitalize on draws by Milan and Juventus.
After opening the month with back-to-back wins over Fiorentina and Genoa, Roma has now dropped points in three straight league matches (2L-1D). And if you go back a bit further into mid-February the Giallorossi have now dropped points in five out of seven league matches (2W-2D-3L).
In those six weeks since the February 14th win over Udinese, Roma has gone from being in third place with 43 points to falling all the way to seventh with just 51 points. Roma's Champions League qualification chances have also suffered in that span, dropping from a 49% chance of Champions League qualification to just a 5% chance via the league route according to FiveThirtyEight.
Roma’s struggles have become even more glaring of late. Unlike early in the season, when Roma was beating everyone in the bottom half of the table and only dropping results against top competition, that is no longer the case. Now, the Giallorossi have struggled across the board.
A draw against Benevento was the first stumble that sent the Lupi swirling into this downward spiral. That was followed by the critical head-to-head loss against Milan that saw the Giallorossi lose touch with a struggling Rossoneri side. The back-to-back wins to open March seemed to indicate that those results would just be a blip on the radar.
Nonetheless, the loss to Parma, which was followed by a defeat to Napoli, showed where the season was ultimately heading. And now, with the draw against Sassuolo, Roma’s top four chances are really hanging on by the weakest of threads.
It was always going to be a topsy-turvy last few months of the season with seven teams separated by just nine points and battling for four spots. However, as Inter began to pull away and the rest of the pack stayed neck-and-neck for the most part, Roma has begun to fall away from the pack, earning only eight points since Matchday 23.
In that same span, Atalanta has picked up 18 points, Napoli 16 points, Juventus 14 points, Lazio 12 points, and Milan 11 points. That means Roma has lost 10 points in the table to Atalanta, eight to Napoli, six to Juve, four to Lazio, and three to Milan. Compare the table from then until now and you see Inter on 68 points at the top, followed by Milan on 60, Atalanta on 58, Juve and Napoli level on 56, Lazio on 52, and Roma on 51.
Combine Roma's deficit against their rivals with the game in hand that Inter, Juve, Napoli, and Lazio all have and it’s easy to see why the Giallorossi now have just a 5% probability of a top four finish.
Even though cup football is always a crapshoot, it looks like Paulo Fonseca will have to throw all of his leftover Easter eggs into the Europa League basket this week. Otherwise, he’ll likely be out of a job and Roma will again be toiling on Thursday nights in some obscure European stadium.