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Roma Begin Coppa Quest by Hosting Genoa

I’m not going to call this the quest for the silver star. I’ve been hurt before.

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

I’ve waited a long time for the moment when the Giallorossi will get their tenth Coppa Italia title. Each season I’ve followed the Giallorossi has given me a bit of hope; surely, surely, the Giallorossi will luck their way to some more silverware. Yet season after season I Lupi managed to drop out of the competition quickly, either due to their manager prioritizing other goals (and often failing to reach those other goals regardless) or simply because they got outplayed by an Inter or a Juventus.

Those successive losses have sapped a lot of my interest in the Coppa Italia, but I hope that hasn't happened for anybody actually employed by the Giallorossi. José Mourinho’s first season with Roma ended with the club getting its first European title in decades; even if The Special One can’t follow that up with a Scudetto win, another cup win would do a lot for Roma’s short-term pride and long-term aspirations.

Roma vs. Genoa: January 12th. 21:00 CET/3:00 EST. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.

This year, Roma’s first match of the Coppa is against Genoa Cricket and Football Club, normally of Serie A but currently of Serie B. I’m not going to do anything close to jinxing Roma here, but suffice it to say a loss to a Serie B side, even with a heavily rotated Roma lineup, would be a massive embarrassment. If the Giallorossi manages to win this one, it will likely set up a quarter-finals match against league leaders Napoli; a convincing win tomorrow will go a long way toward helping Roma enter that match with confidence.

What To Watch For

The Return of Kevin Strootman

Genoa CFC v AS Cittadella - Serie B Photo by Simone Arveda/Getty Images

Long time no see, Kevin. We all know the story of Kevin Strootman; he came to Roma with huge aspirations, became one of the most sought-after midfielders in Europe as he lit up Serie A, and then was felled by injury, becoming one of professional sports’ many what-ifs.

Despite all that unfulfilled potential, Strootman has still strung together a decent career for himself; after leaving the Giallorossi for Marseille in 2018, he was a regular starter for the Ligue 1 side for three seasons. Er Lavatrice has spent the last few seasons on various loans back in Italy, and he’s now on his second loan to Genoa.

This is not the Strootman that struck terror into the hearts of Juventini and Laziale back in the day, but you just know that Kevin will be putting all he has onto the pitch on Thursday. Will it be enough to propel Genoa to a shocker of a result? We’ll just have to wait and see.

Could Solbakken Make His First Appearance?

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

Roma’s sole signing of the January mercato so far has had a rather quiet entry into the Romaverse. We’ve seen training pictures of him, and he’s been in and around the bench in Roma’s matches since he finally put on a Roma kit, but he hasn’t actually seen the pitch yet.

Tomorrow’s Coppa match strikes me as the perfect time to hand Solbakken his first minutes in a Roma kit and maybe even his first start. Nicolò Zaniolo is in dreadful form, and even though Tammy Abraham seems to be slowly rediscovering his ability and potential, there’s nothing like the heat of a new signing coming in hot to push a star to even new heights.

In my dream world, the Giallorossi get ahead of Genoa quickly in this one; Il Grifone actually haven’t had a match since Boxing Day, so there’s a decent chance they come into tomorrow’s match slightly rusty. If Solbakken can pounce on that with the determination new signings often show, it could give José Mourinho the breathing space to bring in the Primavera graduates, who are clearly a major part of Roma’s plans for the rest of the season (for both financial and potential-related reasons).

Repeat after me. I will not get my hopes up for Roma’s chances in the Coppa Italia.

I will not get my hopes up for Roma’s chances in the Coppa Italia.

I will not get my hopes up for Roma’s chances in the Coppa Italia.

(Just kidding, I totally will.)