Serie A Match of the Round – Cagliari vs Roma

Fewer matches but still plenty of action in Serie A and Cagliari-Roma was clearly the most balanced match-up of the slate, as the home teams kept clawing back but still came up short.

The Sardinian approached the match having failed to win in the past 11 rounds, lastly versus Napoli and Genoa. The guests instead were coming off a slump-busting win over Lecce, which allowed them to bounce back from a three-game losing streak. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 26

Lazio-Bologna: the only game between two teams that actually played last week. The Biancocelesti extended their superb run by grinding out a W versus Genoa, thanks to the usual Ciro Immobile goal and two unlikely heroes coming through, Adam Marusic, who has started over Manuel Lazzari in two matches in a row, and Danilo Cataldi. While Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored against Inter, the bonuses for their other two fantasy stars, Luis Alberto and Joaquin Correa, have not been there in recent rounds, leaving Felipe Caicedo as the only serviceable option besides the capocannoniere. Jony has taken over for the injured Senad Lulic and, while he is a high-volume crosser, he has come up with just one assist so far. It could be another ripe day for their offense considering that the Felsinei have a soft defence. Continue reading

Serie A Best Fantasy XI – Round 25

Pau Lopez (5 points): the Spaniard did not have a particularly busy performance in the Lecce game, but he was the only goalie to keep a clean sheet over the week and therefore the lone point-getter at his position. Roma had not blanked an opponent since the beginning of December.

Aleksandar Kolarov (9 points): the Serbian fullback, who is usually a fantasy stud, had gone through a sticky patch where he even lost the starting job for a minute, but he roared back versus the Salentini with a strong display and a pretty strike to round up the score. He still has not patched things up with the fan base though. Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Roma

Just only truly commanding performance out of the reduced slate of games over the weekend and it belong to Roma, which needed to quash a lot of doubts surrounding them after a three-game losing streak and did it in the best possible way, by deep-sixing an in-form opponent such as Lecce.

Paulo Fonseca trotted out Bruno Peres at right back, with Cengiz Under, picked over Carles Perez and Justin Kluivert, in front of him on that flank, while Lorenzo Pellegrini returned at no.10 with Bryan Cristante back in the XI and Aleksandar Kolarov, after ceding some playing time to Leonardo Spinazzola, manned the left defensive flank. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 25

Standings implications: unfortunately, the coronavirus outbreak took its toll on Serie A and forced the postponement of four matches. In the ones that did happen, Juventus and Lazio confirmed their leadership by defeating SPAL and Genoa in hard-fought contests. Roma came back to life with a roar and torched Lecce.

Back on Friday, Napoli completed the comeback in Brescia and momentarily caught Milan in the standings, entering the Europa League zone after a long while, however few teams in that neighbourhood did not play. The Rossoneri instead shared the spoils with Fiorentina despite playing for a while in 11 vs 10men. Bologna pipped Udinese at the post, preventing the Friulani to gain some cushion over the relegation area. Continue reading

Three Reasons Behind Roma’s Slump

After a relatively decent first-half to the season, Roma have hit a rough patch and now find themselves six points adrift Atalanta for the fourth and final Champions League spot. Earlier in the year, it appeared the giallorossi were establishing a clear identity under Paulo Fonseca and were building a solid foundation for years to come. However, in recent times, Roma have struggled for results, losing three of their last four clashes and are in free-fall mode.

But how exactly did we get here? Here are three reasons behind Roma’s slump.

1) No Diawara, no party. 

After a great start to the season, Amadou Diawara went down injured at the end of January and is now out for an undisclosed period of time. Alongside Jordan Veretout, the former Napoli man established himself as one of Fonseca’s key players and typically played in the role of regista dictating play from deep. Without him in the lineup, Roma have struggled to build out of the back and have looked defensively suspect. Diawara was central to Fonseca’s system and essentially acted as the lynchpin that tied it all together in the middle.

His replacement, Bryan Cristante, hasn’t exactly performed when called upon and is currently struggling for form. Whether it’s his imprecision on the ball or his inefficiency in front of goal, the downgrade from Diawara to Cristante is hurting Roma.

While Diawara’s return is unknown for now, Fonseca is going to need to find a solution quickly. If not, Roma risk falling out of contention for a Champions League place and could be eliminated from the Europa League.

2) Centre-backs are making routine errors. 

Following Kostas Manolas’ departure to Napoli, many expected the giallorossi to spend big to replace the Greek international. Rather than splashing the cash on a new defender, Roma opted for a low-cost option and loaned Manchester United defender Chris Smalling. The Englishman started the season in phenomenal form and for the first half of the season looked like the signing of the summer. However, in the new year, his good performances quickly faded and began making routine mistakes at the back.

His partner, Gianluca Mancini, has endured a very similar start to 2020. The former Atalanta defender has looked increasingly shaky at the back and devoid of any confidence. In Roma’s most recent games, Mancini has been regularly beaten by his man and hasn’t exactly exhibited confidence. In fact, in the giallorossi’s last three games, they’ve conceded nine goals, losing to Bologna, Sassuolo and direct Champions League rivals Atalanta.

While Mancini and Smalling had great starts to the season and looked more than ready to assume bigger roles, their respective shortcomings have now caught up to them. Much like it was the case in midfield, Roma will regret not reinforcing further this past January.

3) Roma’s attack is filled with “nearly-men” 

While Roma are having no trouble finding the back of the net in this negative run, their front-line remains an inconsistent bunch. This leads to regular rotation and overall incoherence in the final third. On some nights, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Cengiz Under look like world-beaters while other games, they can barely string two passes together. See: Most recent defeat vs. Atalanta.

Nicolo Zaniolo’s injury significantly hampered Roma in this respect, but it’s time one of their youngsters on the cusp steps up and builds a partnership with club veteran Edin Dzeko. Whether it’s Kluivert, Pellegrini or Under, one of them needs to assume more responsibility in the final third. If they are unable to do so, it may be time for the giallorossi to reconsider and in some cases move on from them completely because right now their “nearly-men” are killing them.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 23

Roma-Bologna: the Giallorossi are in a funk and have played just one convincing game out of the last five. They will be without Lorenzo Pellegrini due to suspension and it is a massive loss considering that he is the mastermind of their offense. They should get Henrikh Mkhitaryan back from injury and perhaps even starting considering the hole at no.10. The other option is likely Diego Perotti and they seem to always be awarded a penalty when he is out there. Edin Dzeko has scored in three straight games and they will face a pretty suspect back-line. Cengiz Under took a step back versus Sassuolo, but he is always pretty assertive when he decides to play, while Justin Kluivert has not done much since coming back from injury, but should improve over time. Paulo Fonseca has elected to keep Aleksandar Kolarov on the bench in the last two matches for tactical reasons, but the decision has not really moved the needle so the stud left-back should soon be back in the XI. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 22

Gianluigi Donnarumma: Milan will host Verona this week, which are certainly a plucky side, however the Rossoneri have been able to keep a clean sheet in three of the last four rounds, with their starlet providing the usual key contribution.

Rafael Toloi: Atalanta will look to follow up the masterpiece against Torino and bounce back at home after the SPAL debacle. They will have a good opportunity to do so versus the cellar-dwelling Genoa, which have bagged just four goals in the last six rounds. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 22

Sassuolo-Roma: an early red card took the Neroverdi out of the Sampdoria game pretty early, but they still came away with a decent point, even though they were understandably unable to do much on offense. In the previous round, Domenico Berardi and Jeremie Boga propelled them past Torino the previous week and they have an intriguing front-line when everybody is healthy and on his day, since they are quite moody, the concerns are more on the other end and the suspension of Federico Peluso adds to those. Francesco Caputo has not scored since mid-December after a fast start, while their duo of no.10s Hamed Traore and Filip Djuricic, who generally alternate, have been able to do a decent amount of damage. Manuel Locatelli and Pedro Obiang/Francesco Magnanelli rarely attack due to their defensive position, they have combined for just one goal, while Jeremy Toljan and Grigoris Kyriakopoulos are decent fullbacks, but the match-up is pretty hard. Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Derby della Capitale

Napoli-Juventus was likely a little more intense and significant, but it already got extensive coverage in another column, so the nod for match of the round goes to the Derby between Roma and Lazio, which was not exactly one of the ages but always carries gargantuan magnitude.

La Lupa came into the match looking to build on last week’s easy win over Genoa, which had interrupted a two-game slump, while the Eagles were riding a 11-match winning streak that had commenced back in late October. They were coming off a rout against Sampdoria. Continue reading