The 2023 calendar year has started well for Roma, at least in terms of results. While the overall performances haven’t been outstanding, the Giallorossi have picked up two wins and a hard fought draw against Milan at the San Siro. The most recent of those results was a 1-0 win in the Coppa Italia Round of 16 against Serie B side Genoa.
It wasn’t pretty, as despite unfurling 25 total shots the Giallorossi struggled to put the ball in the back of the net. In the end, it was Roma’s most dangerous player, Paulo Dybala, who once again showed why he’s just pure class. La Joya’s first goal since returning from being crowned a World Cup champion with Argentina was all Roma needed in a 1-0 win over the Grifoni.
Roma vs. Fiorentina: January 15th. 20:45 CET/2:45 EST. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.
That win was Roma’s second consecutive home victory of the calendar year after defeating Bologna by an identical scoreline last week. Now, Roma hosts Fiorentina looking to pick up three consecutive wins in all competitions for the first time since the first three home matches of the season. The Viola have tallied just eight of twenty-four points on the road this season and Roma has had plenty of recent success against the boys in purple (8W-1D-1L).
So, let’s take a look at what it will take for Roma to improve its unbeaten run into six straight (all comps).
What To Watch For
Where Will the Goals Come From?
If you thought Roma’s finishing was concerning, the people of Florence can commiserate, as both sides have had difficulty putting the ball in the back of the net, scoring 21 goals scored in 17 matches.
Fiorentina’s leading scorers,Jack Bonaventura, Arthur Cabral, and Luka Jovic, have three goals apiece. It’s that lack of scoring that sees the Viola sitting ninth in the table with just 21 points. And to make matters worse, Cabral has been ruled out for a month. So, it’ll come down to Jovic and Christian Koume to start at the number 9 position.
Meanwhile, Tammy Abraham scored the decisive goal for the Giallorossi last Sunday to steal a point in Milan. However, that goal didn’t translate to a strong performance in the Coppa Italia on Thursday. Roma will hope that Tammy can get going in this one and add to his league total of four tallies. Otherwise, it could come down to another piece of magic from Roma’s leading scorer—Dybala (5 league goals)—to get the Giallorossi over the hump.
The Battle in the Midfield
The midfield was supposed to be remedied with the signing of Gini Wijnaldum this summer. However, when the Dutchman went down in training with a fractured leg after just one match, the midfield lost its lynchpin. And the struggles in the center of the park have been well documented since.
Wijnaldum is on the mend, but isn’t ready to return yet, so Mourinho will have to continue to piece things together for the time being. Cristante and Matic has been redundant. Pellegrini has slid back into the double-pivot at times but it hasn’t been ideal. Maddy Camara showed flashes of promise in the autumn, but has been MIA in 2023. Meanwhile, youngsters Benjamin Tahirovic and Edoardo Bove have both gotten starts in the opening weeks of January.
Whoever Mourinho decides to play in the center of the park will have their hands full on Sunday. That’s because Sofyan Amrabat will be patrolling the center of the pitch for the Viola. Amrabat’s quality was on full display in the 2022 World Cup as he was a big reason why Morocco was able to make a surprise run to the semifinals.
Roma’s midfield will have to deal with Amrabat breaking up play and trying to spring Viola attacks with his progressive passing. It’ll be up to whichever duo Mourinho starts to make Amrabat uncomfortable when he’s in possession and be able to take him out of the match defensively with crisp passing.
ROMA (3-4-2-1): Rui Patricio; Mancini, Smalling, Kumbulla; Celik, Cristante, Pellegrini, Zalewski; Zaniolo, Dybala; Abraham.