For what seems to be the umpteenth time since I began following Roma, the Giallorossi head into the international break with a whimper, this time following a 1-0 defeat to hated rivals Lazio in the derby.
Expectations were high going into the match after the Giallorossi secured qualification to the quarterfinals of the Europa League in midweek, but it wasn’t to be, as Roger Ibañez's first-half red card was too much for Roma to overcome as they ultimately conceded to Lazio in the second half and were unable to find an equalizer.
It’s never particularly fun to discuss a loss, particularly a derby loss, but in any case, let’s take a look at three things I noticed from Roma’s loss to Lazio.
#1: Another Missed Opportunity
A win on Sunday would’ve propelled Roma to second in the table, level on points with Inter but behind on goal differential. Instead, the Giallorossi once again shoot themselves in the foot and fail to capitalize on a golden opportunity in a loss.
Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but if the scenario sounds familiar, that’s because this is the exact same position Roma found themselves in last week before capitulating to Sassuolo.
For both matches, Mourinho was absent from the touchline. It’s too small a sample size to attribute to The Special One’s absence, but it is concerning that Roma is unable to take care of business in the league despite being so adept at doing so in Europe.
#2: Ibañez Costs Roma...Again
Roger Ibañez’s 100th Serie A appearance was memorable for all the wrong reasons, as the Brazilian earned two yellows in the first half and was shown his marching orders, leaving the Giallorossi in a huge hole that would ultimately pave the way for Roma to lose to their city rivals.
It’s becoming a theme for Ibañez to save his worst performances for the derby, with his derby gaffes in the 2020-2021 season being one of the more infamous episodes.
For someone who’s ironed out a lot of the mistakes in his game this season, it still seems as if a game-altering mistake is never truly far away for the Brazilian. Roger has been consistently linked with some of the big boys of European soccer, but Ibañez will have to learn to completely eliminate these mistakes if he’s to reach the next level.
#3: Where Does Roma Go From Here?
We’ve already discussed the Giallorossi blowing a huge opportunity to go level on points with Inter in second, so where does Roma go from here?
Roma remains a point back of Milan in fourth with 11 games to play, so they’re still very much in play for top-four. And, of course, the Giallorossi can still qualify for the Champions League by winning the Europa League, so the season isn’t over just yet. But unless Roma establishes some consistency, there may be a point where they’ll have to prioritize one competition over the other.
Once Roma returns from the international break, they have back-to-back matches against Atalanta and Milan following their EL quarterfinal fixture, so we’ll have a very clear idea as to what competition Roma should prioritize depending on how those matches shake out.
Well, that’s all from me. Roma returned to action against Sampdoria after the international break, here’s to hoping the players come back rested enough to push for a strong conclusion to the campaign.