In the most recent episode of Across the Romaverse, I thanked Jimmy for his point that despite the ups and downs of the season thus far, the Giallorossi were still just four points off the top of the table. As a naturally pessimistic fan, losing Paulo Dybala to injury against Lecce was just another moment in a long list of events that have soured my optimism on Roma’s ability to accomplish their goals this season. So, it was nice to have some perspective on just how well Roma have been doing this season. And it could be worse—the Giallorossi could be performing like Juventus or Inter have been...
Having said that, Roma goes into their clash against Sampdoria with a massive opportunity in front of them. With several results going Roma’s way this weekend - namely, Lazio’s draw with Udinese - a win against Sampdoria will see the Giallorossi leapfrog both Lazio and Udinese in the table and back into the top-four.
It would be so Roma to waste this chance to climb back into the top-four, but make no mistake - this is a golden opportunity, particularly with a massive clash against Napoli coming up next weekend.
What To Watch For
Who Will Find Their Shooting Boots?
Well, this one is a no-brainer. The number one talking point surrounding the club this season has been Roma’s inability to convert the numerous scoring chances they create, making life infinitely more difficult themselves. There’s certainly an argument to be had that Roma’s injury crisis has been the bigger storyline, but the inefficiency in front of goal has been the club's Achilles heel this season.
Having said that, Roma needs to figure it out. A poor run of form is always just around the corner, no matter what club you are, so Roma needs to maximize their opportunities in front of goal while they’re still producing them. But who will be the one to start putting the ball in the back of the net?
José Mourinho will have Nicolo Zaniolo back at his disposal after he missed the Betis clash due to suspension, and you’d imagine he’ll slot right into the starting line-up on Monday. A rested Zaniolo is as good a bet as any for the player that’ll find the back of the net in this one, but I’d also peg Andrea Belotti as a prime candidate as well. Mourinho’s increasing affinity for the former Torino man will likely see Belotti have another opportunity to showcase his famous work rate and get on the scoresheet.
Plus, Sampdoria is bottom of the table. These are the games that you need to put three or four balls in the back of the net and really boost your confidence going forward.
Will Mourinho Rotate?
I’d be shocked if we saw much rotation in this one. A question born from the injury crisis and emphasized by the frustration surrounding the Nemanja Matic - Bryan Cristante pairing in midfield, Mourinho has frequently opted against rotating much to this point, and I anticipate more of the same in this one outside of making room for Zaniolo.
With Zaniolo returning, I’d anticipate one of Matic or Cristante to be on the bench, with Mourinho now able to play Nicolo behind a frontline of Tammy Abraham and Belotti and slot Lorenzo Pellegrini into the midfield. Alternatively, Mourinho may opt to leave Belotti on the bench and have Zaniolo play alongside Tammy, with Lorenzo Pellegrini playing in behind and the Matic-Cristante pairing getting the nod once again.
If The Special One goes the latter route, I’d like to see Mady Camara get a start in the midfield rather than seeing more of the same. Sure, he’s shown that he's still raw to a degree, but I like what I saw from him against Betis, and surely Matic could do with a rest, given how much he’s played so far this season.