I know, I know. Just as you thought you had recovered from Saturday’s painful result, we’re back with another reminder for you. Or maybe you’re beaming with pride at what this team has accomplished in terms of their growth over the course of this unbeaten run, which is probably what this young squad deserves, despite their flaws. Or, you’re like me, and this is no sweat, as you’ve become numb to painful losses over the years, after years of your team letting you down, across all sports...
And having said that, let’s take a look at three things I either noticed, liked, or disliked, from the match.
All Good Things Come To An End
I’m just going to throw this out here and say that the universe might have done us all a favor with this one, there’s no way Roma could go unbeaten the rest of the season and win the Europa Conference League, the hype for a Scudetto run going into next season would’ve ripped the fanbase apart.
In all seriousness though, as disappointing as the result was against Inter, the likelihood of running the table the rest of the way was always going to be near-zero. As much as I wish that was just the pessimist in me, just take a look at how many teams are currently on unbeaten league runs of 12+ games across Europe - not very many.
Having said that, although it was always going to end, that doesn’t mean the run shouldn’t be appreciated for what it was. For all the chatter around how the season was going around the start of the year, particularly after the loss to Juventus, the squad was able to string together a run of results and start to generate some of that self-belief and confidence that ultimately served them extremely well during the tail-end of this run.
It Was A Rough Night For Zalewski
Look, I’m not here to pick on the lad, lest I incur the wrath of our own, Jimmy Miotto. But the evidence was there for all to see on Dumfries’ opener, Nicola Zalewski was just completely overwhelmed and it was a rough night for the youngster overall. And that’s okay. He’s young, it’s not his natural position, etc., he’ll be fine. It is, however, a reminder that we should check our own expectations when it comes to the various starlets at the club. Zalewski has put in some strong performances over the course of Roma’s unbeaten run, but there are going to be some growing pains along the way.
If you did need a reminder that Zalewski was playing out of position, look no further than the man on the bench, Leonardo Spinazzola, slowly but surely making his return from a devastating Achilles injury suffered at the Euros. And while it’s been a lost season for the left-back, you have to appreciate the player and the club for taking their time with this, we’ve seen all too often what happens when a player comes back from injury too early. I’ll have to admit though, I cannot wait to see Spinazzola in this counter-attacking setup under Mourinho, no doubt it'll be all the more devastating with his inclusion.
Roma Still Control Their Own Destiny
Incredibly, despite the pain of this loss, Roma’s spot on the table remains exactly the same! While many anticipated a precipitous drop in the table, Fiorentina and Lazio both lost over the weekend, which means Roma remains locked in at fifth. Unfortunately, Juve’s win over Sassuolo almost assuredly locks up fourth place for them, but as a wise wizard once said, “There never was much hope, just a fool’s hope.” When you looked at the schedule and saw matches with Napoli and Inter on the docket, you more than likely thought Roma would drop some amount of points between the two matches combined. Tip your hat to Juve, they had the favor of the scheduling gods with this one.
Ultimately, there’s still plenty to play for over the course of the rest of the season, with a European semifinal matchup against Leicester City on Thursday, and a thrilling race to finish fifth in Serie A, the season isn’t over for Roma just because the unbeaten run has come to an end. Winning the inaugural Europa Conference League and qualifying for the Europa League would be an excellent Year One accomplishment for this current project, and while we all want Roma to reach far greater heights than those two milestones, there’s no doubt that accomplishing those two objectives would be an excellent foundation from which to build on.
Well, that’s all from me. We’re finally at the most exciting time of the year for a football fan, with title races coming down to the wire and European competitions reaching their conclusions. It’s going to be Roma’s third semifinal in almost as many years, all against English competition. Here’s to finally getting over the hump!