Roma fall 9 pts behind after derby defeat against Lazio and exit Coppa Italia

Of all the defeats Roma can take in a Serie A season the one that will always hurt the most is the defeat in the derby and at the weekend Paulo Fonseca’s team were no match for Lazio.

Lazio ran out 3-0 winners and while the final result looked more like gloss against a game that was closer no one could deny that Lazio were the more attacking side and deserved their win.

A terrible defensive error by Roma’s Ibanez allowed Lazio a glorious chance which Ciro Immobile snapped up to put the designated home side in the lead. That was Immobile’s 12 league goal of the season as he tries to catch up to Cristiano Ronaldo and is only 3 goals away from that target.

By the 23rd minute Lazio were 2-0 up courtesy of Luis Alberto. It was a strange goal as Manuel Lazzari came bursting into the area on the right hand side and he thought he had been fouled for a penalty, the referee waved on. However Lazzari quickly got up and passed the ball to an unmarked Alberto who slotted home well.

The best goal was saved for last in the 2nd half when Alberto placed the ball into the lower bottom right corner from just outside the area and his expression after the goal said it all, he knew it was a special goal and also a special derby performance from his club on such an important occasion.

The result means that Roma have fallen 9 points behind Milan in the race for the title and the Giallorossi are in 4th place on the same points as Napoli with 34 but they in turn are 6 points behind 2nd placed Inter. Despite losing their 4th game of the season Roma are still in a Champions League place but we are not even at the halfway stage of the season yet.

Coach Fonseca was obviously disappointed and a little dejected by the defeat against Lazio. Fonseca said: “We can’t change what happened, but we can start thinking that what happened should not happen again. The team must understand that we can only change the future by changing our attitude in the game. As I said I’m above all disappointed for our fans.”

Roma crash out of Coppa Italia against Spezia

Paulo Fonseca talked Spezia up and said they would be a dangerous side and he was correct. Spezia knocked out Roma after extra time winning 4-2. It was a game full of incident and for Spezia fans and the neutral it was one full of excitement too.

It looked all over for Roma after Spezia took an early two goal lead but the home side were able to pull a goal back just before half time through Lorenzo Pellegrini’s penalty. When Henrikh Mikahitaryan made it 2-2 late on in the 2nd half it seemed as though Roma were easing themselves back into the game and would go on and win it either in normal time or extra time, but Spezia would get the final say.

Roma imploded in extra time and had not one but 2 players sent off within 30 seconds of each other. Gianluca Mancini was given a his 2nd booking after a tripping and then frustration built up and Pau Lopez followed him for an early bath. Although the game was still 2-2 it became stretched and Spezia made playing against 9 men count and scored 2 goals soon after to kill the match. This was a very disappointing result for the club.

Tension mounts after sacking of Gianluca Gomber

Not only did Roma lose in the Coppa Italia to Spezia but they would have in fact been kicked out of the competition even if they had won the game. This was because the club made six substitute choices instead of the required 5 allowed.

The blame did not go to Paulo Fonseca as ‘team manager’ Gianluca Gomber was in charge of the count of subs being made. Unlike for example in England where only 3 subs are allowed, although five in the cup, in Italy and other major leagues 5 are allowed in all the games.

Gomber made the fatal error and was sacked by the club on Wednesday morning, the day after the game. But it doesn’t end there as Roma’s players are furious with the decision. Gomber was part of the behind the scenes team and the players had a close and good relationship with him. The players have made it known that they want Gomber reinstated and that anyone can make a mistake. Watch this space!

Could Fonseca be sacked too?

The big news breaking this week is that Roma coach Paulo Fonseca could be sacked. It is understood that the club were expecting to be much closer at the top of the league but 9 points seems like a mountain and now they have been knocked out of the cup Fonseca could go.

It has been rumoured that Max Allegri and Maurizio Sarri have emerged as the favourites to take over the club and that Fonseca’s job is under real threat. One would expect that if Roma fail to impress at the weekend where again they will face their cup conquerors Spezia he could be walking.

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Alejandro Gomez to Lazio: A perfect fit?

Atalanta’s ascent to stardom has taken Italian football by storm this season, punching above their weight season after season. The Bergamo-based outfit has shown no signs of slowing down this year and has since qualified for the Round of 16 of the Champions League. As an intriguing matchup with Real Madrid awaits them in February, Atalanta may have to take the field against Los Galacticos without their star man, Alejandro Papu Gomez. 

The diminutive playmaker has reportedly fallen out with Gian Piero Gasperini and as a result, has been frozen out of the first team. Italian clubs have circled like vultures following the reports, with Roma, Lazio, and Milan all being linked with a move for the playmaker. Rumours quickly surfaced that Gomez would appreciate a move to Lazio, adding further fuel to the story.

In many ways, Gomez is a perfect fit for Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio. While his setup may be far more rigid than Atalanta’s free-flowing system, the Argentine playmaker is extremely familiar with the 3-5-2 formation and could slot in seamlessly alongside Ciro Immobile. Gomez has demonstrated he can be devastating alongside a more physical presence in the final third and will almost certainly strike a deadly partnership with the Italian international.

Alternatively, Inzaghi can alter his 3-5-2 to include a trequartista behind the strikers. The Italian tactician has flirted with this possibility in the past but has never used it over a sustained period of time. A front three of Gomez, Correa and Immobile could open up any rearguard and would be worth tinkering with.

Luis Alberto acts as a defacto attacking midfielder despite slotting into the midfield three and regularly looks to get forward between the lines. Gomez’s arrival would take the creative burden off the Spanish international, who is largely tasked with linking up play in the final third. Luis Alberto excelled in that position last season, registering six goals and 15 assists in 36 appearances. The former Liverpool man has since slowed down this season and is yet to record an assist. Regardless, Luis Alberto continues to create countless chances and remains an integral piece to Inzaghi’s attack.

When the 28-year-old is struggling, Lazio is not nearly as dangerous in the final third and often look toothless. Available at around 10 million euros, Gomez would be an ideal alternative to Luis Alberto’s creativity. With Gomez roaming dangerously between the lines, much of the focus would be off the Spaniard in the final third, allowing him to use his vision to hurt the opposition backline.

Gomez may be turning 33 in February, but the Atalanta man is a bonafide gamechanger. In Italy, countless players on the wrong side of 30 – notably Zlatan Ibrahimovic – have proven they can still contribute. If anything, Gomez has only gotten better with age and has, at the very least, another two or three productive years ahead of him. If he is available at the right price, Lazio would be foolish not to pull the trigger on a deal for him.

The Biancocelesti took Italy by storm last season, competing against Juventus for the Scudetto and qualifying for the Champions League. Should Lazio want to replicate last year’s exploits, they will need quality reinforcements. Their summer arrivals have failed to make an impact since joining, forcing Inzaghi to rely on his usual suspects despite competing on three fronts.

Lazio’s Round of 16 encounter with Bayern Munich is a tall ask for the capital-based club, but in a season unlike any other, they may just spring a surprise. Gomez could be the inspired piece of business the Biancocelesti need to get themselves over the line and into the next round alongside Europe’s elite.

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Luis Alberto’s barren run offers Andreas Pereira chance to make his mark at Lazio

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It’s time to address the elephant in the room: something isn’t quite right with Luis Alberto this season.

After Ciro Immobile, the Spaniard has been the most influential player for Simone Inzaghi’s Lazio in recent years.

His output has been phenomenal since he was moved into a central role in 2017/18 following a difficult debut season on the wing.

Since then, he’s scored 26 goals and provided 42 assists in 136 games for the Roman club, ranking him among European football’s most efficient creative midfielders in that period. Continue reading

Improving Inzaghi proves a point as Lazio rotate their way to eight-game unbeaten run

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If anyone deserves a bit of festive cheer, it’s Simone Inzaghi.

It’s remarkable that the Biancocelesti boss has any of those luscious locks left on his head and hasn’t torn them out in frustration by now, because even by the standards of this most unpredictable and disrupted of seasons, he’s had a rough ride.

The 44-year-old came in for some criticism when Serie A returned after lockdown last season, as his side slipped from one point off top to fourth place.

He struggled to effectively rotate his squad and manage the energy levels of his key players as Lazio’s form nosedived.

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Serie A Injury and Suspensions Report – Round Seven

Atalanta: Hans Hateboer and Cristian Romero played against Liverpool but they are still hampered by thigh problems. Robin Gosens (calf) and Marten De Roon (thigh) are trying fast recoveries but they have slim chances to be available. Cristiano Piccini (thigh) and Mattia Caldara (knee) are out.

Benevento: Gianluca Caprari was handed a two-game ban following last week’s red card. Federico Barba is back, Iago Falque is notAlessandro Tuia will miss a month with a cheekbone fracture. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Seven – Top Matches

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Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were missing their top three players against Napoli, but they won anyway thanks a brand-new scheme by Roberto De Zerbi, who, for once, opted for caution and a three-man back-line and got rewarded with their talented central midfielders stepping up. Filip Djuricic has COVID and will not return here, Domenico Berardi and Francesco Caputo have been called up, but they might be limited, so it is possible Giacomo Raspadori stays initially in a big role and Gregoire Defrel gets the nod. Both the Frenchman and Jeremie Boga have not looked great as they work their way into shape, while Hamed Traore is generally pretty lively. Even if at less than 100 percent, Caputo and Betardi are always good choices, while Lopez would be an outstanding one if used as no.10 to substitute Djuricic. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Six

Standings implications: Milan came out on top again thanks to a late push versus Udinese, retaining the top spot. Juventus managed to pull away from Spezia with a superb second half and moved to third place as Napoli got upended at home by Sassuolo, who come in second. After two losses, Atalanta put one on the win column by handling Crotone rather easily, even though the score was closer than what transpired in the game. Verona returned to winning ways against Benevento and resumed flying high.

Inter could not build up on last week’s win as they were held to a tie at home by Parma and actually were very close to losing. Roma extended their positive streak by breezing past Fiorentina. Lazio topped Torino at the buzzer in a nail-bater. Sampdoria and Genoa shared the spoils in a pretty entertaining edition of the Derby della Lanterna. Bologna got off their schneid with a quality and hard-fought victory against Crotone.

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Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round Six

Atalanta: Marten De Roon strained the adductor in his left thigh and will sit out the next two matches. Cristiano Piccini picked up a similar issue while trying to gain some shape. Robin Gosens is out with a late calf problem. 

Benevento: Iago Falque and Federico Barba will stay on the mend with their physical issues, while Gabriel Moncini returned midweek. 

Bologna: Federico Santander underwent reconstructive surgery on the right knee after spraining it midweek and will return in the Spring. Among their injured players, Gary Medel (calf) is the closest to recovering, but he might need another week. Andreas Skov Olsen (back) and Andrea Poli (fibula) could return after the second international break. Ibrahima Mbaye (thigh) and Nicola Sansone (hip) are late scratches.  Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round Five

Standings implications: Roma managed to at least slow down Milan in the Monday night thriller. Napoli stayed perfect in the matches they actually played but they had to dig deep to sink a plucky Benenevento. Juventus lost some more ground as they could not get past Verona. Inter and Lazio both bounced back after multiple winless rounds, as the Nerazzurri patiently worked their way around Genoa’s defence, while the Biancocelesti bested Bologna. Sassuolo and Sampdoria are the surprises of the early season: the Neroverdi were again the comeback kids against Torino, but their rally stopped short this time, while the Blucerchiati handed Atalanta their second tough L in a row. Fiorentina held on two dear life this time in order to beat Udinese and return to winning ways. Cagliari defeated Crotone, keeping the opponents on the down low, while this time Spezia were on the wrong end of a two-goal comeback in Parma.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round Five – Other Games

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Sassuolo: the Neroverdi were tested by Bologna, but they reacted vigorously and nabbed another win thanks to goal by their usual difference-makers, Francesco Caputo (fourth in the season), Domenico Berardi (third) and Filip Djuricic. The Serbian attacker started off slowly but found the target in the last two outings. Gregoire Defrel and Lukas Haraslin have hampered by injuries, while Jeremie Boga and Nicolas Schiappacasse had to deal with COVID, so the final spot in their front-line is up for grabs. Hamed Traore has first dibs if the absentees do not return, but Maxime Lopez could be an option as well. At some point they will have to start using Boga, but he missed a lot of practice time because of the virus. Mert Muldur and Georgios Kyriakopoulos have yet to turn it on this season, while Manuel Locatelli and Mehdi Bourabia have both hit the net once despite their role. Continue reading