On Saturday, the Giallorossi continued their unbeaten run to start the season with a hard-fought 1-1 draw against Juventus. It was a crucial point for Roma in the club's "House of Horrors," aka the Allianz Stadium. In the end, the point was positive, considering how the match started. However, there was plenty not to like from a Roma side that had been dominant in back-to-back 1-0 victories to open the season— even if the final scoreline didn't quite reflect that dominance.
The Giallorossi return to the Olimpico for their second home match of the season against newly promoted Monza. The Tuesday kick-off means it'll be a quick turnaround for Roma, which, coupled with the injuries to Zaniolo and Wijnaldum, should provide the first real test of the squad's depth. It'll be the first of many two-match weeks for the Giallorossi as the season kicks into high gear with the return of European football around the corner.
What To Watch For
The Players' Response to Mourinho's Criticism
“I said I felt embarrassed for them, embarrassed to be their coach.”
“Absolutely, the question is why it was like that in the second half but not in the first? We are not talking about the tactics, but about the attitude. We cannot come here with this sort of attitude.
“I was telling [assistant manager] Foti on the bench that we should pray the first half finishes 1-0. I told the players to take advantage of that good fortune, to still be in the game even after that. Sometimes you can be a bit overrun, but even then you can manage the game a bit and we didn’t even manage that. It was pure luck it was 1-0 at the break.
That's just a snippet of Jose Mourinho's brutally honest assessment of the team's first-half performance at the Allianz Stadium on Saturday. Roma was not good and, as Mourinho said, lucky to be down only 1-0 at the half. After addressing that in the dressing room and making tactical changes, the response was better in the second half.
This is what you get with Mourinho. He's blunt and doesn't pull any punches. He let his team have it after the Bodø disaster last season, and even though this ended up with a very different result, he let it be known that this isn't good enough. We've complimented the team's change in mentality since Mourinho's arrival, but Roma looked like their old selves to open the match—shriveling under the bright lights against Juventus.
Now, it's up to the players to show that they can take the criticism and learn from it. Monza is not Juve, and this match will be in the friendly confines of the Olimpico, but Mourinho and the tifosi will be looking for a response against an inferior opponent. Let's see if that's what they get.
Where Will the Goals Come From?
After Paulo Dybala’s arrival, goalscoring wasn't expected to be a problem for the Giallorossi. The "Fab Four" of Dybala, Zaniolo, Pellegrini, and Abraham was supposed to light up opposing defenses, particularly weaker sides. And while they gave Salernitana and Cremonese plenty of headaches with the plethora of chances they created, the Giallorossi have managed just three goals in three matches. That seems almost impossible when considering the 6.6xG from the chances created.
To make matters worse, only one of those three goals has been scored by that star contingent. Abraham finally got off the mat with the tying goal against Juve on a lovely assist from Dybala, which many Romanisti hope becomes a trend for that duo.
Monza comes to the Olimpico with the worst defensive record in the league through three matches, having conceded eight goals. If the forwards can create the same number of chances as the first two matches while putting a few more in the back of the net, this could be the perfect recipe to establish a goalscoring groove.
Will We See Belotti's Debut?
The long-awaited arrival of Andrea Belotti finally happened on Sunday. Unfortunately, that means just one day of training before Roma's match against Monza. Despite that quick turnaround, Belotti should still be on the substitutes bench to provide some much-needed depth. Depending on how the match plays out, we could see Il Gallo wet his feet in front of the home fans. Roma has a busy stretch and will want Belotti up to speed ASAP to avoid overworking Abraham and Dybala. Let's see if those first minutes come against Monza.