The Giallorossi got the job done in their mid-week clash against Helsinki, setting up an all-important match next week to determine if they will survive the Europa League group stages or suffer the ignominy of falling back into the Europa Conference League. That match is undoubtedly on every Roma player’s mind right now, but before I Lupi squares off against Ludogorets, they have to take care of business on the Italian peninsula.
Tomorrow’s Halloween match against nineteenth-placed Hellas Verona might not seem like the most challenging one on Roma’s radar, but the three points the Giallorossi could nab against Verona are vital in their quest for Champions League football next season.
What To Watch For
The Return of Tammy Two Goals?
Tammy Abraham finally broke his goalscoring drought and general form against Helsinki, scoring one goal and (basically) scoring a second that was ultimately ruled an own goal. You could see from the look on Abraham’s face after scoring just how much of a relief it was for him to finally find the net again; all strikers go through peaks and valleys of form, but that doesn’t make those valleys any less painful for both the player and their club.
Granted, Helsinki looked closer to a Serie B side than a Europa League contender against Roma, but it didn’t matter who Abraham ended his goalscoring drought against; the most important thing was to get that ball in the back of the net. Hellas Verona are likely to be a bit more challenging of an opponent for the Giallorossi, but I still believe in Abraham’s ability to turn on the goals now.
With Paulo Dybala out and Nicolò Zaniolo in a similar poor run of form, the Giallorossi’s hopes and dreams do rest on their English striker, at least for now.
No pressure, Tammy.
Will the Youth Get Another Shot?
Roma’s youth featured heavily in their victory over Helsinki, but that was to be expected, as the Giallorossi were running low on bench depth due to injury and suspension and were in the middle of a grueling part of the calendar. When called upon, those Primavera graduates like Cristian Volpato and Giacomo Faticanti looked promising—not ready for prime time against a big club, maybe, but still promising.
The only way for them to become ready to play against the big boys, however, is for them to get more match time at the senior level. Tomorrow’s match against Hellas Verona presents an opportunity for just that.
Of course, there are rumors swirling that the Giallorossi might empty the farm system this January to bring in Davide Frattesi, a move that I have been supportive of for over a year. If that’s the case, and the Giallorossi are unable to insert buy-back clauses into their Primavera players’ contracts, then the imperative to give more minutes in Serie A to Bove, Volpato, Faticanti, or anyone else involved in that hypothetical deal is less critical.
Regardless, given the poor form on display for some of the senior squad players, there’s clearly space in the first team for players like Volpato and Edoardo Bove; the question is whether or not Mourinho continues to acknowledge this and give the kids a chance when the stakes are a bit lower than a derby.