One foot in Europa League quarter finals but a step back in Serie A for Roma

Roma are almost in the quarter finals of the Europa League after they beat Braga of Portugal 2-0. The return leg is tonight in Italy and it is widely expected that the Giallorossi will have few problems in reaching the last 8 after their dominant display in the 1st leg.

The Europa League win was a game of a goal in the early stages and a goal at the end. Within 5 minutes of the start Leonardo Spinnazola had set up Edin Dzeko with a beautiful pass that caught out the Braga defence and Dzeko made no mistakes to put Roma in front. Dzeko has struggled to hold down a place this season and had fallen out with coach Paulo Fonseca so this goal felt like redemption for him.

Roma could have been 3 goals up within the hour if they had had some luck. A penalty appeal was rejected by a VAR review and then a goal was wiped off due to offside after another VAR review. But Roma knew that if they had a chance going into the 2nd leg against a quality side like Braga they would need to try and grab that second.

The goal finally came with just four minutes remaining but there would still be some controversy and tense moments to have it confirmed. Good work from Jordan Veretout set up Borja Mayoral to slot in an easy chance but VAR called it back for yet another possible offside. After some tense minutes the goal was given and Roma deservedly won the game 2-0. In the end Braga managed just 1 shot on target which was simply not good enough.

So the Europa League game was the good news, but the bad news was that Roma’s league title challenge could be over. The club could only draw 0-0 away to Benevento. The Giallorossi created numerous chances and again were denied a stoppage time penalty by VAR. They deserved the win this time but could only get a point. The end scenes were also chaotic as Benevento coach Filipo Inzaghi was sent off.

Roma are in 4th place with Atalanta and Lazio only one point behind them for a Champions League place. The Giallorossi have also slipped 9 points behind league leaders Inter and have Milan and Juventus in front of them. The league title isn’t quite over for them but realistically it now looks a distant hope and the focus has to be on finishing in a top 4 place.

What do the bookmakers think?

Let’s look at the two competitions that Roma are still in with a chance of winning which of course is Serie A and the Europa League. This is what the bookmakers think of Roma’s chances of winning either competition.

Serie A : 45/1

Europa League: 14/1

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Roma lose touch with Milan and let Juventus into 3rd place

The clash of this past weekend in Serie A was Roma against Juventus, it was also 3rd vs 4th and Roma came off as second best. Had Roma won the favour for both Milan teams at the top would have been immeasurable. Instead champions Juventus found a way to win and Roma fell 9 points behind league leaders Milan.

Juventus won 2-0 through an early Cristiano Ronaldo goal (that was his 16th of the season in the league) and then later on in the second half there was an unfortunate own goal by Ibanez which wrapped up the game for the old lady.

Alvaro Morata set up Ronaldo for the games first goal as he passed the ball to Ronaldo who was on the edge of the box and with a trademark shot Ronaldo had scored yet again. It is very clear in everyone’s minds that the Portuguese star wants to be top scorer this season so he can have claimed that feat in England, Spain and now Italy, and what a record that would be.

As for Roma, Paulo Fonseca’s team had plenty of possession in the first half but didn’t do anything with the ball in the final third and Juventus defended very well. By half time it didn’t feel like a surprise to see that Roma had not registered any shots on target, Juve ended the half with 3 shots.

In the second half it was quite a dire affair mostly because of the excellent Giorgio Chiellini who was like a rock in the Juventus defence and even if Roma did start to create some chances they never looked like coming back.

The usual match winners for Roma Borja Mayoral and Henrikh Mkhitaryan had bad games but at the same time that only happened because they were marked out of it. Juventus showed their superiority in every way and this was most probably the weekend that confirmed that Roma will not be winning this league this season.

Paulo Fonseca had this to say after the game, “We did well for most of the game and mustn’t forget we were up against Juve. They defended well the numbers are numbers, but the team that scored the goals ended up winning. If you look at the statistics, we had more shots, more corners, more possession, more passing, but Juventus scored the goals.”

Roma are now in 4th place and have 40 points and that was the Giallorossi’s 5th loss of the season, they are 9 points behind league leaders Milan. Roma will play Udinese at home this Sunday.

Robin Olsen set to leave Roma?

Robin Olsen is hoping to leave Roma and says he is even crossing his fingers about a move away to Premier League team Everton. This has followed his impressive performances with the Merseyside club and he looks to have ousted Jordan Pickford for the time being. Olsen is having a great time with Everton and of course getting game time. At Roma that doesn’t look like a possibility and the player is hoping for a full transfer at the end of the season.

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Roma score 3 goals in 9 minutes against Verona to keep up title charge

It only took Roma 9 minutes to effectively finish off and win their 12th game of the season against Verona at Stadio Olimpico and the Giallorossi will maintain their hunt for the Scudetto.

The goals started from the 20th minute when Lorenzo Pellegrini’s corner found the head of Gianluigi Mancini. Mancini was 12 yards from goal and his header in fairness was not powerful, though it was directed well and see to evade Verona’s defenders and the keeper and Roma were in the lead.

The Giallorossi then doubled their lead just 120 seconds later with Verona’s defence stretched out after a quick counter attack. Marco Silvestri in goal for the visitors made the mistake to come far too out and Borja Mayoral who has been on good form for Roma almost had a clear chance. Mayoral though was sent wide but spotted Henrikh Mkhitaryan unmarked and in a better position. With Silvestri all over the place and gaps galore Mkhitaryan who had gone off the boil somewhat in the past few weeks slotted in to score his 9th goal of the season.

Roma could not believe their luck when seven minutes later they had made it 3-0. Again from a corner the ball found Pellegrini on the edge of the area who lashed his shot but the ball came off of Silvestri and fell to Mayoral right in front of him who was given a gift and didn’t fail to disappoint.

It was a first half dominated by Roma and it ended 3-0. In the second half Roma had a few chances to get a fourth but Silvestri in goal for Verona who had had a nightmare first 45 minutes showed his qualities and put in a very solid 2nd half performance.

Towards the end Roma who knew they had won this game just tried to dictate the pace and it was clear that the match was petering out. However Verona did get a consolation goal when Roma had appeared to switch off a little, the goal was from a breakaway and headed in by Ebrima Colley.

It was a well deserved victory by Roma and they are 3rd in the league behind Milan and Inter and have 40 points.

Fonseca and Dzeko update

It’s no secret that Roma coach Paulo Fonseca and Edin Dzeko have fallen out. Last week Dzeko was isolated and sent to train on his own. However after a possible move to Inter falling through on deadline day Dzeko will remain with the club. Fonseca and Dzeko have had a meeting since and Dzeko is set to rejoin the rest of the group and could even play this weekend when Roma take part in a huge game against Juventus.

Player focus: Lorenzo Pellegrini

Lorenzo Pellegrini started the season slowly but in the last 2 months has really picked up and become an integral part of this Roma side. He has been involved in 9 goals and scored 4 and assisted in another 5. Pellegrini so far has 33 points in the fantasy rankings and is the 3rd best ranked player for Roma. He is currently the 11th ranked player in the whole of Serie A for his position, and his value is 7m.

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Roma share 13 goals with Spezia in two unique games and stay in hunt for Serie A title

Roma and Spezia played each other two times in the space of four days and shared one win apiece. But that was only the small detail as they also shared a staggering 13 goals between them.

Quite incredibly Spezia beat Roma 4-2 in the Coppa Italia to knock Roma out of the competition and then pile on the pressure for coach Paulo Fonseca. But at the weekend Roma avenged that defeat as they beat Spezia in another thrilling game which had 7 goals in it as the Giallorossi won 4-3.

The action flew off from the 17th minute as Roma took the lead through Borja Mayoral who has been in very good form lately. He was assisted by Lorenzo Pellegrini and gave the keeper no chance to put the home team 1-0 up. However soon after it was 1-1 when Roberto Piccoli equalised for the visitors. He was never going to miss from just a few yards out as an initial shot from the club rebounded like a present for him and he made no mistakes.

At this point Roma would have been forgiven for thinking not again just as Spezia had showed so much courage in the cup game. Though there would be 7 goals the first half ended 1-1 and it was clear whilst Spezia were a threat in numbers Roma had been the better team.

However within seven minutes of the restart Roma had taken the lead with another superb shot from Mayoral and then just three minutes later Rick Kardsdrop made it 3-1 to the home side and the tie looked dead on its feet. The joy from the players was infectious by this point and there looked like no coming back from Spezia this time.

But the story wasn’t done yet and in a 2nd half which saw 3 goals in the opening 14 minutes Spezia pulled one back to make it 3-2. Then came the excitement and what a finish to the game it would be.

In the 90th minute against all the odds Spezia equalised to make it 3-3, having at one point trailed the game 3-1. Daniele Verde was the hero and he looked to have earned a point for the visitors and Spezia were officially going to be named as a thorn in the side of the Giallorossi. But this game wasn’t over even if there were only seconds left on the clock.

In the 92nd minute Lorenzo Pellegrini who had been all over the pitch and been the provider for quite a game scored a terrific shot that flew in the net for a last minute winner. The scenes on the pitch even sadly without the fans still generated quite a fantastic atmosphere.

It was great news for Roma too because Milan in 1st place lost against Atlanta and Inter could only draw away to Udinese so Roma caught both of them up and the Giallorossi are now only six points behind league leaders Milan. This title hunt is not over.

Dzeko set to leave but Alexis could come in

Edin Dzeko has had words with coach Paulo Fonseca to the point that both men have fallen out with one another and it has been reported that Dzeko has now been training on his own. But it doesn’t end there.

Official meetings have been held between Roma and Inter about a loan swap deal which would see Dzeko go to Inter probably as a back up squad player and Alexis Sanchez come to Roma.

With Inter in with a good shout of the Serie A title Sanchez may not want to leave but Dzeko will want as faraway as the capital as he can get. A deal if one happens could be concluded this week.

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Roma go 4 games unbeaten as they prepare for the derby against Lazio

Such is the latest standard in Serie A that even though Roma have won 10 points from their last four games they would only be sixth based on form. But the Giallorossi have bigger fish to fry than just statistics as they aim to win the title for the first time in 2 decades.

A Serie A title is on the cards for Paulo Fonseca’s team who enter match day 18 in third place and just six points behind league leaders Milan.

Recent results have been brilliant and their 3 game winning run was only stopped by Inter at the weekend as the two clubs drew 2-2. However it would be Roma leaving the Stadio Olimpico as the happier side given that they were losing the game with just four minutes to go.

Gianluca Manciniian who had been booked earlier in the game for using his elbow went from villain to hero as he scored a lovely headed goal which reminded any football fan of Italian football of how Paolo Rossi used to score. Mancini scored in the 86th minute to save a defeat and it’s now been almost a month since Roma lost a game in the league.

In the midweek game before the Inter match Roma played Crotone away from home and eased to a 3-1 victory. The Giallorossi had taken a 2-0 lead through a brace by Borja Mayoral and Henrikh Mkhitaryan who had lost his touch in goal in the last few weeks scored the third.

Can Roma win the league title for the first time since 2001?

Roma have only won the Scudetto 3 times in their history and whilst they won’t be the favourites to win this season the clubs consistency has got fans talking and getting excited. Presently they just need to get past both Milan teams who are in 1st and 2nd place. But there is the looming threat of the sleeping giant, Juventus who have started the season slow but are now gaining momentum and they are only a point behind Roma. The bookmakers have Roma at odds of 17.00 (16/1) to win the league. The current favourites are Inter at 2.50 (6/4) and they are followed by the 9 time in a row champions Juventus who are 3.00 (2/1).

Lazio v Roma

The Derby della Capitale will take place on Friday evening when Roma meet Lazio and it will be a significant one. If Roma win they will stay in 3rd place but will have the same points as Inter with 37 and will have moved 4 points clear of Juventus. It might not look like giant steps but it will be positive.

Lazio are in 8th place and a win would take them just 3 points shy of Roma and dent their fierce rivals title hopes and European ones. Here is how the last 5 matches when Lazio have been at home have ended in the derby.

September 1st, 2019-    Lazio 1-1 Roma

March 2nd, 2019 -         Lazio 3-0 Roma

April 15th, 2018-            Lazio 0-0 Roma

December 4th, 2016-     Lazio 0-2 Roma

April 3rd, 2016-              Lazio 1-4 Roma

Lazio wins: 1, Roma wins: 2, Draws: 2

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Mkhitaryan in the form of his life as Roma go 3rd with third win in a row

There were no problems for Roma who went 3rd in the league as they beat Parma 3-0 for the 3rd win in a row in Serie A.

Paulo Fonseca’s side were ruthless as they scored all of their goals in the first half, having 5 shots on target alone in that period. Parma had to make do with having 1 shot on target for the whole match.

The plaudits will once again be paid to Henrikh Mkhitaryan who scored 2 goals, and a few weeks ago scored a hat trick. The player is on fire and is obviously enjoying himself.

With his 2 goals Mkhitaryan earned 10 points at the weekend in the fantasy rankings and he now has a total of 38. This total is enough to make him currently the best player in the rankings for Serie A.

So far this season Roma have scored 19 goals and Mkhitaryan has been involved in 9 of them, scoring 5 and assisting in a further 4.

The opening goal in the Parma game came after 28 minutes after some lovely work from Leonardo Spinazzola. His reverse clever pass found Borja Mayoral unmarked in the area and tucked away with precision. That was Mayoral’s first goal of the season and also Spinnazola’s first assist.

Minutes later it was 2-0 and this was a belter. Mkhitaryan picked up a bouncing loose ball on the edge of the area and thumped it home. Then just a few minutes after that it was 3-0, this goal again for Mkhitaryan won’t be remembered as was just a simple tap in.

Roma may have been left frustrated in the second half as no further goals developed but they had done their job early on and earned the three points. With the club in 3rd place they are just 3 points behind AC Milan.

Paulo Fonseca happy with Roma’s performance

“We put in an excellent performance, especially in the first half, as we scored three goals and could’ve had quite a few more. I think the team played well, in the second half we controlled the situation and still created more chances to find the net. I always said Mkhitaryan is a great professional who can do well in various different roles, so I am not surprised by what he’s doing. The team is feeling confident. It’s true Edin Dzeko is very important to us, but it’s also important to see that the team maintains its identity despite changing numerous players.”

Roma prepare for Cluj and receive fantastic boost

Roma will play Cluj in the Europa League on Thursday evening and the club received some good news. Striker Edin Dzeko has been passed fit to play in the game. It was initially thought that he would miss this one and instead make his comeback from injury against Napoli at the weekend.

It is expected that Dzeko will start from the bench and play at least 20 minutes of the game to get his fitness levels up before the Napoli match.

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Real Madrid’s clear out begins

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The news that Sergio Ramos has personally requested a transfer from Real Madrid should sound the alarm bells.

With a plethora of staff already being made available by the club, losing their talismanic captain just a year after Cristiano Ronaldo is a sure sign that Los Blancos are still on the way down.

Zinedine Zidane knew when he returned to the helm at the Santiago Bernabeu that this wouldn’t be an overnight job, but even he must’ve been surprised at just how far behind Barcelona his side have fallen. Continue reading