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Roma vs. Torino Preview: Can Giallorossi Head into World Cup Break on a High Note?

Roma’s limping into the World Cup break, but there are reasons to be optimistic as they close out their 2022 match fixtures.

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

With the World Cup’s first match coming closer and closer on the calendar, Roma’s season will take a lengthy pause following tomorrow’s match. While the vast majority of Roma’s players will be taking part in the club’s Japanese tour during the World Cup (Speaking of which, have you seen the kits New Balance made for that? Shut up and take my money!), the select few players who are both world-class and playing for a country that actually made the World Cup (sorry, Italian Romanisti) will be taking a hiatus from training with José Mourinho and his men.

While that’s certainly a bummer for team chemistry in a moment where the table is remarkably tight, it sure seems like this World Cup break is happening at just the right moment for Roma in every other way. Roma has been slumping for the past several weeks, and while they thankfully made it out of the Europa League group stage, the Giallorossi are currently seventh in the league heading into tomorrow’s match after a loss to Lazio and a draw to Sassuolo.

Simply put, this side needs time to heal, and although I would love to have more Roma players at the World Cup, I’ll take this alternative if it means that the club comes out with a new taste for life in 2023.

What To Watch For

What Will Dybala Look Like Post-Injury?

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Fabio Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Even before Paulo Dybala was injured, most observant Romanisti knew he was the lynchpin of any positive production on the pitch. After his injury, it became all the more apparent that without La Joya, this version of the Giallorossi is listless offensively, offering little of note beyond set-piece goals and a lot of frustrating near-misses. It’s been a slog to watch a lot of Roma matches recently, and the absence of Dybala has been the main reason why.

The good news is that Dybala is returning to training as the build-up to the World Cup happens and has an eye on at least appearing in tomorrow’s match against Torino. Now, I don’t expect Dybala to be at full strength tomorrow; the full-strength Dybala we witnessed to start this season can stake a claim as the best player in Serie A, and nobody’s going to be that hot after an injury layoff. Still, Don’t be surprised if Paulo comes on as a sixtieth-minute sub and grabs the Giallorossi an all-important goal. He’s just that good, even in the injury recovery phase.

What Of Slick Rick?

US Sassuolo v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Alessandro Sabattini/Getty Images

If there’s one thing you can say about Rick Karsdorp’s time on the Giallorossi payroll, it’s that it hasn’t been lacking intrigue. From looking like a dud of a transfer in his first season with the Giallorossi to being sent back to Feyenoord for the 2019-2020 season to eventually staking himself out to be the talented right-back we all hoped he could be under José Mourinho, the Flying Dutchman has never been the picture of consistency, but at least it was always interesting.

A lot of that intrigue had died down recently, as he had fully established himself as a key member of Mourinho’s starting eleven, and even with the signing of Zeki Çelik, it sure seemed like Karsdorp would be hanging around the Stadio Olimpico for a while longer.

Now? I’m not so sure. After a series of embarrassing errors over the past month, José Mourinho has reportedly lost all patience with Slick Rick, telling him that he might as well find a new club when the January mercato rolls around. Of course, what’s said in the heat of the moment post-match isn’t always gospel, even 24 hours later, but with Karsdorp’s agent reportedly demanding an explanation from the Giallorossi higher-ups (and Juventus reportedly interested in Karsdorp’s services), it sure seems like an irreconcilable rift has developed between Karsdorp and the club.

What does that mean for the Giallorossi now, with the World Cup break only hours away?

Well, it does raise the question of whether or not Çelik will start against Torino. If he does, and especially if Karsdorp doesn’t see the pitch, don’t be shocked when the rumor mill spins into a frenzy post-match. There’s plenty of smoke around this story as-is, and dropping Karsdorp from the last match of 2022 would only be adding kerosene to the flames.

If Karsdorp ends up starting, though?

Then your guess is as good as mine for what that means for Karsdorp’s future in Rome. I’m not a mind-reader, after all, but in my mind, this public tiff certainly implies that some move might be in the works soon.

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