As Patrik Schick returns, Roma’s Eusebio Di Francesco has tough decisions ahead


In recent seasons at Roma, too much depth and the manager having too many options has never been a problem. During the reign of Rudi Garcia, the attack, midfield, and defence typically consisted of the same names in each match. The same could be said for Luciano Spalletti, who never seemed to fancy turnover and is proving this once again at Inter.

Enter Eusebio Di Francesco, the contrarian to this recent theme. The former Sassuolo manager has had no problem embracing turnover and the results, up to now, seem to favor his preference of using a variety of players.

Roma’s depth has been a pleasant surprise this season, however, Di Francesco will now be forced to make difficult decisions. One area of the pitch where the Giallorossi seem to have a back-log of names is at the right-wing position, as Di Francesco has yet to find his first-choice name for the role. Stephan El Shaarawy, Gerson, Cengiz Ünder, and Gregoire Defrel have all been deployed in the position and now, it’s widely expected that Roma’s club record purchase from the summer, Patrik Schick, who recently returned from a long injury layoff, will be given an opportunity in the wide role.

Di Francesco has lamented in his recent press conferences that his side lacks a player on the right who possesses similar characteristics to the departed Mohammed Salah. The Egyptian, who is in sensational form at Liverpool this season, was not only able to score goals, but he also provided the Giallorossi with ample scoring opportunities and was able to take on defenders without any hesitation. None of the aforementioned players that Di Francesco has used in the right-wing role have shown the ability to pick up where Salah left off. Stephan El Shaarawy has, without doubt, been the strongest of the bunch, however, he still lacks the creative ability that Di Francesco seems to yearn for.


Patrik Schick is expected to be given the starting nod on the right in Roma’s upcoming league match against SPAL, despite admitting earlier this season that he’d prefer to play centrally as a striker. Given that Edin Dzeko’s place in Di Francesco’s side seems to be all but cemented, it doesn’t seem feasible that the youngster would find much space as a striker. Despite Schick’s apprehension, Di Francesco has continued to insist that the Czech attacker could be deployed out wide, while also conceding that the prospect of playing him alongside Dzeko is intriguing.

Given what we saw from Schick in his maiden season in Serie A with Sampdoria last year, it doesn’t seem like a far-fetched proposal to deploy the youngster as a winger. Schick has shown the ability to be able to take on defenders while also being able to create scoring opportunities for his teammates, as he finished last year with 13 goals and 5 assists in all competitions.

Regardless of who it is, the Giallorossi are desperate for continuity at the right-wing position. With a host of important matches arriving quickly, it will be crucial for Eusebio Di Francesco to find his answer at the position because Mohammed Salah is now nothing more than a memory in the Eternal City.

Serie A Best Team to Pick – Week 15


A very interesting week is coming up. Here is the suggested team to pick: the line-up is a 3-4-3.

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Serie A Fantasy Striker Picks – Week 15


The Serie A games this week spread from Friday to Monday. Napoli-Juventus is obviously the most anticipated one, but there are few interesting match-ups. Here are the striker picks.

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Napoli and Juve eye showdown signal


We may only be a third into the season, yet Serie A is already gearing up for one of its most important fixtures as Napoli and Juventus lock horns on Friday, in an encounter that pits the table-topping Partenopei with the winners of six straight Scudetti. It also sees Gonzalo Higuain possibly return to the San Paolo, just four days after the striker went under the knife for hand surgery.

Twelve wins and no defeats have allowed Neapolitans to dream of a first Serie A title since the heady days of Diego Maradona and co. back in 1990, and victory over Juve would open up a seven-point gap between themselves and the Old Lady at the top of the table. But while Max Allegri’s side appear to have lost some of their invincibility, they remain the team to beat in Italy – and the team Napoli must topple if their Scudetto tilt is to stand the test of an entire campaign. Continue reading

Rudderless Alaves facing La Liga relegation


While the last season’s headlines and La Liga title went the way of Zinedine Zidane and Real Madrid, Mauricio Pellegrino’s Alaves were undoubtedly the side to defy most critics. The Argentine was only appointed on the eve of the campaign for the newly-promoted club, who were embarking in their first campaign in Spain’s top flight for over a decade. Tipped by many to go straight back down, the secured a top-half finish and qualified for the Copa Del Rey final – the first domestic cup final in their history.

This was achieved without any notable investment and a modest squad comprised of eight loanees – including Theo Hernandez, now at Real Madrid – alongside free agents and cut-price deals. They started the season with a four-game unbeaten streak including an opening day draw at Atletico Madrid before a sensational victory at Barcelona two match days later. It was a season of memorable results – they beat Villarreal home and away, remained unbeaten against Atletico, took six points from Betis and four from Athletic Bilbao, whilst also beating Valencia, Real Sociedad and Celta Vigo.


Pellegrino departed in the aftermath of May’s Copa final loss to Barcelona kick started a spell of instability and a revolving door both and off the pitch which has dominated the six months since. The final defeat was also to be the last game at the club for eight of the 14 players who participated while two permanent managers have come and gone since. Luis Zubeldia lasted four games but his side’s failure to pick up a point or even score a goal saw him swiftly dismissed. Former Albania boss Gianni De Biasi then was instilled but despite winning three of his eight games in charge, recent damaging defeats against Getafe and Eibar saw him sacked as the club slid back to the foot of the table.

Seven of the current squad are loanees and none have made a positive impression this season with Bojan Krkic, Munir El-Haddadi and Alvaro Medran have perhaps been the most notable underwhelming performers, having all previously shown promise at the top level. The side badly misses last season’s stars Theo Hernandez and Marcos Llorente, now both at Real Madrid, while the spine of Zouhair Feddal, Victor Camarasa (now both at Betis) and Deyverson (now Palmeiras) have all departed.

The Basque club’s next two La Liga home fixtures are against sides in the relegation zone – Las Palmas and Malaga – giving immediate hope for the building of momentum, in some form. They will hope to have a permanent boss in place ahead of such a crucial run of matches and to give him the opportunity and time to do business in the January transfer window. Last season’s euphoria will provide cherished memories forever for fans of El Glorioso, but pain this time around is looking increasingly inevitable.

Best Strikers in Serie A – Week 13


Little may have changed at the top of the Serie A league table, with only the top three winning their games from all teams in the top seven, but there were a few standout performances from strikers in the Italian top flight.

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