Look, I’ll keep it level with you folks: this season is over. Paulo Fonseca sounds like he’s got one-and-a-half feet out the door, the rumor mill has practically certified that Maurizio Sarri is Roma’s next manager, and the injuries sustained by Pau Lopez, Jordan Veretout, and Leonardo Spinazzola look to be season-enders. Despite all that, and despite the 6-2 thrashing they just received from Manchester United, Roma somehow has the gall to continue playing matches! I don’t really understand it either, but we’re all in this deep with this incarnation of the Giallorossi; we might as well see how the story ends.
Sampdoria vs. Roma: May 2nd. 20:45 CET/2:45 EDT. Luigi Ferraris, Genova.
But first, a look back to last January.
January 3rd: Roma 1, Sampdoria 0
Remember hard-fought wins made on the back of Edin Džeko? Those were kinda fun, right? Well, Roma’s last match against Sampdoria was one of those, with the rain creating a topsy-turvy match decided by a 72nd-minute goal from the Bosnian Diamond. Rick Karsdorp’s assist was essential to the goal, and despite the poor weather, you could argue that this was the Dutchman’s best match of the season. If Karsdorp has cemented his role as starting right-back for the Giallorossi, it’s because of matches like this one.
Here’s what Bren had to say post-match:
Paulo Fonseca has been heavily criticized for his failure to make second-half adjustments this season, so it’s only right that we praise him for flipping the correct switches in the second half this afternoon. Roma didn’t see quite as much of the ball in the second half, but they did well to vary their approach, working the ball down both flanks to keep Sampdoria’s defense guessing and fired 13 shots on goal in the second 45 minutes alone.
When you consider they were fresh off an 11-day break and were basically playing on marshland, this was a huge victory for Roma. They had every excuse in the book to play Sampdoria to a scoreless draw, but thanks to their second-half surge Roma were able to retain their grasp on third place for one more week.
It’s wild to look back now to four months ago when Paulo Fonseca still seemed like he could find success in Rome. Those were simpler times.
What To Watch For
The season is practically over for everyone involved with Roma, but on the bright side, that means some of the younger players are likely to get some serious minutes. Given Rick Karsdorp’s injury history, it hasn’t been entirely surprising to see Bryan Reynolds get Serie A starts over the past month, and he’s shown some promise to date. It would certainly provide a silver lining to this underwhelming season if Reynolds showed himself to be Roma’s next starting right-back in these final weeks. At the very least, I’d like to keep the dream of Calafiori and Reynolds as Roma’s world-class starting full-backs alive for just a little while longer.
Paulo Pushes On
Following the blowout to Manchester United, there were rumors that the Friedkins had had enough and were set to sack Paulo Fonseca before the end of the season. Those rumors didn’t come to pass, but even in his recent press conferences, Fonseca has had the tone of a dead man walking. I wish it hadn’t ended this way for Fonseca in Rome; I’ve never heard anyone say a bad word about him as a person, and I’m not particularly excited for the Roman Sarriball that looks to be on the horizon. Nevertheless, it’s safe to assume that Fonseca has six matches left as the manager of the Giallorossi. Whether you’re mourning his departure or toasting to it, watching Fonseca’s last matches with the club is a decent reason to keep watching Roma right now, even if the losses are making me want to pull my hair out.
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"The struggle itself towards the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy." - Albert Camus