Spring in Serie A is always a stressful time. Unlike a sports league where the regular season only determines playoff seeding, the “regular season” for Serie A is it. However you place in the league determines your fate, whether that means winning the title, qualifying for the Champions League, or ending up in Serie B. That means that while in leagues like the NBA or the MLB, the end of the “regular season” might be a time to rest your stars and coast until the playoffs start, the closer we get to the end of the Serie A season, the more impact each and every match has on a club’s fortunes.
Take tomorrow’s match against Sampdoria, for example. For I Blucerchiati, who are in nineteenth place in the league and nine points shy of seventeenth place Spezia, any points at all could be the determining factor that saves them from relegation. It certainly would be an uphill battle, but as Romanisti know, all successful uphill battles for the minnows seem to start with a win against the Giallorossi.
Meanwhile, Roma is in the thick of a hunt for Champions League football that will likely determine the long-term Roma futures of José Mourinho, Paulo Dybala, Rui Patricio, Gini Wijnaldum, and more. The results have been kind to Mourinho’s men lately, and despite some disappointing form in the league, the Giallorossi are only one point behind A.C. Milan for a spot in the top four.
With Milan facing league leaders and likely Scudetto winners Napoli in the evening match slot, Roma securing three points at the Olimpico would ramp up the pressure on the Rossoneri. All Roma has to do is avoid their nasty habit of playing down to their opposition. Easy.
October 17, 2022: Sampdoria 0, Roma 1
Roma got the job done in the away fixture of this match, securing a 0-1 win thanks to a coolly taken penalty from captain Lorenzo Pellegrini. This match saw the Giallorossi do something that they’ve struggled with this season: grabbing an early goal and holding on to that lead for dear life. It wasn’t the prettiest match, but whoever said success was only built on beautiful moments?
What to Watch For
Is This the End for Tammy Abraham in Rome?
The Tammy Abraham Experiment in Rome has always been one of peaks and valleys. When he was first signed in 2021, many people weren’t sure what to expect. Sure, he had plenty of experience with Chelsea, but he wasn’t known as the superstar of those successful London sides; would he be able to make the leap to superstardom under the tutelage of José Mourinho? For the first season, the answer appeared to be yes; now, with Andrea Belotti starting more and more matches (including this one, according to reports), the answer is a whole lot hazier.
Abraham has certainly not reached the heights of his first season at the Stadio Olimpico this year, Tammy Two Goals has only scored six goals in Serie A so far, and he’s only scored one at the Stadio Olimpico. That lack of form has kicked the rumor mill into high gear, with everyone from Chelsea to Milan to Manchester United to... Aston Villa? deciding to throw their hats into the ring for the English international’s services.
Tomorrow’s match against Samp won’t determine whether or not Tammy Abraham is long for Rome, but if Andrea Belotti is able to start banging in goals as this season draws to a close, it may make it a lot easier for Tiago Pinto and José Mourinho to look elsewhere for a new star striker for the Giallorossi.
Personally, I hope Abraham stays around; it seems as if he’s fallen in love with the city, and where would Roma have been if they ditched Edin Džeko after his first mediocre season in Rome? Still, as always, the striker position is one to watch for the Giallorossi.
Can the Giallorossi Avoid Another Buffonesque Performance From a Small Club’s Goalie? Please?
You’ve heard the story before. The Giallorossi play a minnow with visions of an easy three points dancing in Romanisti’s dreams, only for a relatively small-time goalkeeper to receive a blessing from the Patron Saint of Goalkeepers and become Gigi Buffon for ninety minutes and change. It’s frustrating to you, it’s frustrating to me, and I can only imagine how frustrating it is for the players on the pitch that the opponent goalkeeper seems to be turning into Superman.
If there was a candidate for this role in the relegation zone, there’s no doubt that it would be Emil Audero. He checks off many of the boxes: former Italian youth international, playing at a smaller club than many would have anticipated when his career was starting out, linked to Roma several times in the past. This is the stuff that dreams are made of. Did I say dreams? I meant nightmares.
Now, the easiest way for Roma to avoid an opponent goalkeeper from having a world-class match is to be more creative with their passing opportunities. Scoring isn’t just about hammering the ball as hard and as accurately as you can (though that certainly helps); it’s about doing what you can to get the goalkeeper out of position as your offense is running toward him.
The Giallorossi have become markedly better at this since the signing of Paulo Dybala, but if Audero takes a sip from Mike’s Secret Stuff before the match, it will take creativity from him, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and even Roma’s true forwards for Roma to walk away from this match with a win. If that happens, the dream of the Champions League, and all that comes with it, football survives for another week.