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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Reality check against Atalanta but Roma stay in Serie A title hunt

Football isn’t always plain sailing even if you are experiencing good form and Roma were. Before Paolo Fonseca’s team faced Atalanta they had won back to back games and scored 8 goals as they lay charge to put pressure on both Inter and Milan.

Then of course came Atalanta. The game in which Roma imploded and lost the game 4-1. What was perplexing is that not only did Roma take the lead through Edin Dzeko as early as the 3rd minute but just before the hour mark they were still leading the game.

Atalanta had just 1 shot on target in the first half and it seemed as if Roma were going to have a routine win and add a second. Then the crumble happened in the space of 25 minutes and the home side scored 4 goals. Duvan Zapata scored the equaliser and three different goal scorers followed to stun the Giallrossi.

Paolo Fonseca had this to say after the game: “The team was stretched out, not aggressive, and that is fatal against a side like Atalanta. It wasn’t physical, it was psychological, a question of attitude. We played well for 25 minutes, then changed attitude completely. That cannot happen.”

Fonseca continued: “We want to win every game and if the team had kept the attitude of the first half, we may well have won. However, playing like we did in the second half makes it extremely difficult to take points off big opponents. It was just totally different after the break. The team went too deep, showed no aggression, no determination. There was no reason for it. We must make sure the players understand they cannot change their attitude like that. We made it too easy for Atalanta. Without aggression, you cannot win this type of match.”

Win before the Christmas break

The Giallorossi’s next match was a home one against Cagliari and they had the chance to forget about the poor Atalanta result and get back to winning ways, and they done just that with a 3-2 victory.

Jordan Veretout who has come back to form in recent weeks gave the home side the lead on 12 minutes and the half ended 1-0. Joao Pedro equalised for Cagliari early on in the second half . But on the 71st minute the in form Edin Dzeko put Roma in front and just a few minutes later Gianluca Mancini sealed the game, the defender scoring a rare goal. Cagliari pulled one back in injury time for a couple of tense minutes but Roma were fine.

Roma now has 27 points and are seven points behind Milan and six points behind Inter. The Christmas break is here and Roma’s next game will be at home against Sampdoria.

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Roma hit Bologna for 5 and are in search of a top 4 place this week

After their disappointing 0-0 result against Sassuolo the Giallorossi were back in style as they went to Bologna and thumped then 5-1.

There were four different goalscorers for Roma and an own goal in a very eventful game. It started with a bang too within just 4 minutes Andrea Poli had scored an own goal after a low dangerous cross and Roma were one up. But this start was nothing compared to what Bologna would face in the next 10 minutes of the game.

When the clock struck the tenth minute it was 2-0 and five minutes later it was 3-0 and this game was put to bed within the first quarter of an hour. Edin Dzeko scored Roma’s second when he found the ball just inside the box and made a brilliant turn to fool the defender and slotted home with absolute ease.

The third goal came after a brilliant long pass from Leonardo Spinazzola and the ball found an unmarked Lorenzo Pellegrini who steered home rather easily. Indeed it was well taken but the defending from Bologna was comical it was as if they had switched off possibly looking for an offside that never came. However against the run of play Bologna pulled one back after Roma scored an own goal through Bryan Cristante.

But Roma were playing like a team possessed and it was soon 4-1. The fourth goal was perhaps the best of the lot as it was a classic team goal that consisted of passes and quick one twos. It was finished off by Henrikh Mkhitaryan whose brilliant pass found Jordan Veretout who had been quite the last few weeks and he slid home easily. It was a perfect goal.

The Gallorossi were not finished yet though and would score their 5th goal before half time in a nightmare 45 minutes for the home side. It would be Mkhitaryan who would score the fifth goal after great team work again and with 5 in the bag at half time people were wondering if we were going to see double figures by the end. It wasn’t to be though and the game ended with that scoreline.

It said it all that Bologna at home had just 1 shot on target the whole game and Roma thoroughly deserved their victory. It is a win that has put the club in sixth place and was their sixth win of the season. Roma now has 21 points and are seven behind the league leaders Milan who drew at Genoa.

Europa League draw for Roma

Roma were impressive in the Europa League group stages and their reward for reaching the knock out rounds which begin next year is a two legged match with Portuguese outfit Sporting Braga. The clubs haven’t met before and the encounters are sure to be memorable and very close.

Serie A- the next 3 games

Christmas time is coming and that means that Serie A will shut down for a few weeks. Roma have 3 games left to play. Tonight they will be at home against Torino and then on Sunday they will play Atalanta away. Their final game before the break will be against Cagliari and that will take place at home.

Top 3 best performing players

Let’s take a look at the best performing players in the fantasy rankings so far for Roma.

1. Henrikh Mkhitaryan 44pts

2. Jordan Veretout       27pts

3. Lorenzo Pellegrini    17pts

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Edin Dzeko hoping to return this month as Giallorossi prepare for new director of club

Roma have not played since November 8th due to the international break and their next game will be against Parma. The big news surrounding this is the return of Edin Dzeko back from injury. Although the player is set to miss the Parma clash the target is to have the Bosnian international back before the end of the month.

At the beginning of the season it seemed that Dzeko was on the verge of joining Juventus but an eleventh hour change means that the talented striker has stayed with the Giallorossi at least for this season.

Dzeko’s possible return in a weeks time has been making all of the headlines in Italy and that’s for good reason considering that he’s scored 81 goals in just 177 league appearances for the club.

Tiago Pinto is welcomed to Roma from Benfica

Roma have taken advantage of a break in domestic football duties to appoint a new director of football and have chosen 36 year old Tiago Pinto. Pinto will come from Benfica. Pinto had been with Benfica for 3 years and his new role at the club will not commence until January. Pinto said “Leaving Benfica was a very tough decision, given what we have achieved together over the past eight years, but the chance to join a resurgent Roma and to contribute to that momentum under this dynamic new ownership was a professional opportunity that I could not turn down.”

Preparing for Parma

Roma’s next game will be at home to Parma. The club come into the game in 4th place and are just 3 points behind current leaders Milan. At Stadio Olimpico Roma are undefeated after 3 games winning 2 and drawing one and come into this game with back to back wins. Their last match at home ended in a 2-0 win over Fiorentina.

The Giallorossi could be without Chris Smalling who has become ill through food poisoning. Smalling has made a big impact on the team but after his Coronavirus and now this he has had a stop and start time to the new campaign.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan was banned from playing for Armenia in the international games because of recently contracting Coronavirus and this means that the player who has amassed the most fantasy points with 28 so far must be a doubt for the Parma game. A lot of responsibility will fall onto the shoulders of Jordan Veretout who has earned 22 points this season for the Italians and been their second best player in the fantasy rankings.

R.I.P Dino Da Costa

Roma legend Dino Da Costa has passed away at the age of 89. Da Costa scored 75 goals in 160 games for Roma and played for the club for six years between 1955-1961. In scoring 106 goals Da Costa is 8th in the all time club scoring charts for Serie A.

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Wins over Fiorentina and Cluj boost Roma as Fonseca hails the Chris Smalling effect

Roma have recorded two good wins over the week, one in Serie A where they put in a solid performance beating Fiorentina and the other in the Europa League which was a crushing 5-0 win against CFR Cluj.

The victory over Fiorentina means that Roma are in 8th place and are unbeaten in their last five games earning 11 points in that time. Form has been good with 3 wins from their past four matches.

Leonardo Spinazzola opened the scoring for Roma and he was effectively set up by a huge kick from goal keeper Antonio Mirante. But Spinazzola still had much work to do and kept the ball well before a deft turn in the Fiorentina area found him his desired space and he slotted home with ease. It was a great goal to get the game going.

Late in the second half Pedro scored from a few yards out and the ex Barcelona man was never going to miss from that range. That gave the game to Roma who ran out 2-0 winners. Roma had 7 shots on target to Fiorentina’s one  and so the result was never going to be in doubt.

Roma are looking good in the Europa League too and they beat CFR Cluj 5-0 and it has been reported that Cluj’s coach Dan Petrsucu will immediately leave the job after the game. Having lost 5-0 that may well speed up the process.

The game was set in stone within just a few seconds of kick off after Henrik Mkhitaryan opened the scoring for the hosts and Borja Mayoral scored a brace before Pedro popped up to finish the game off in a very easy win for Paulo Fonseca’s team.

Smalling doing the business in Italy

Paolo Fonseca has hailed the importance of having Chris Smalling at Roma. The player initially joined the club on a loan from Manchester United but the Italians have now signed him on a permanent deal. Fonseca said: “We have three young lads in defence, so it’s important to have someone like Chris who is more experienced and more of a leader. It’s a very important figure to have. The whole team put in a good performance against a strong opponent (Fiorentina). We were solid in defence today, doing well to break quickly on the counter. Lorenzo Pellegrini is a very intelligent player who can take on different roles, just as we can play with three at the back or four.”

As for fantasy points Jordan Veretout leads the way and he has amassed 20 points so far. Next weekend Roma will play Genoa away from home.

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Roma crush Benevento to head back into the top 10 in Serie A

After back to back wins Roma are now in the top 10 in Serie A after an initial slow start and after four games played are 8th and just five points behind current league leaders AC Milan.

Roma were widely expected to beat Benevento and let no one down as they powered through to a 5-2 win at Stadio Olimpico. But the visitors were not just going to roll over and gave Fillipo Inzaghi’s side a few scares.

Indeed in just the fifth minute Benevento took the lead through Gianlula Caprari’s shot which actually took quite a deflection before looping in and beating the goalkeeper for a freak goal.

From then on the game was predictable as Roma had the lions share of possession and made some good attacks although it took until just after the half hour stage to see Roma equalise through Pedro and bad defending.

Roma then took the lead just four minutes later through Edin Dzeko who after good work simply had to tap it in against a naive Benevento defence which were being torn apart by the pace of the home side. Soon after Roma thought they had a third goal but this was rightly ruled out for offside by VAR. The first half ended 2-1 to Roma and the second half seemed like it would be a formality.

However against the odds Benvento would be the next team to score and pull the game back to 2-2 after the 55th minute through Gianluca Lapadula. Jordan Veretout who is having a solid start to the season gave away a penalty after some confusion in their own box and Lapadula then missed the spot kick but got the rebound and suddenly we were in for a shock result.

However in the 69th minute Veretout made amends when Roma were awarded their own penalty when the goalkeeper fouled Pedro. Veretout stood up and made no mistakes to give Roma the lead once more.

Eight minutes later the game was effectively wrapped up as Dzeko struck again and again it was a simple tap in after good build up play where he couldn’t really miss. By this point Benevento who had worked hard throughout the match had given up the ghost and with just one minute left of the game Roma got their 5th.

It came through Carles Perez who may have scored the contender for goal of the season. Starting in his own half he beat 3 players before confidently smashing the ball home. Had Lionel Messi did that over the weekend the headlines would surely be tripping over themselves. It was a great win for Roma and their next game will be away to leaders AC Milan it what should be a mouthwatering encounter.

Top Roma performers in fantasy league so far:

1. Jordan Veretout 15pts

2. Henrikh Mkhitaryan 10pts

3. Antonio Mirante 10pts

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Dzeko could sign new contract with Roma as club prepares for the return of Serie A

Only a couple of weeks ago it seemed certain that Roma striker Edin Dzeko was heading out of the club to join champions Juventus. However a last minute deal fell through and instead Dzeko will stay at Roma, but now there are reports that instead of just staying for this season and then looking at his options the 34 year old could sign a new contract.

Dzeko’s current contract doesn’t end until 2022 when he will be 36, and yet reports from Italy suggest an extension on top of that might be imminent. This latest contract doesn’t mean that Dzeko won’t be sold though and could just be put in place to put a higher leaving fee on the player. Otherwise it would seem odd that Roma would want to keep a striker on their books until he was 37 plus years age. At the same time Dzeko has been a hit for the club scoring 106 goals since his move in 2015 which is almost a scoring ratio of 1 in 2.

Coronavirus update and testing on players

With so many players testing positive for Covid-19 and the latest news breaking that Cristiano Ronaldo also has the virus, testing of course is of extreme importance. The latest batch of tests have revealed just one positive. Amadou Diawara will now self isolate but did confirm that he was feeling well. Every other player has tested negative.

Looking ahead to the weekend

Roma will play their 4th game of the season on Sunday when they will host Benevento. Paulo Fonseca’s team will be the odds on favourites to win the match and should, in theory, have little trouble against the visitors.

Although hold caution to the wind given that Benevento have started the season well with 2 wins from three games and are in 7th place. Benevento have beaten Bologna and Sampdoria although they did lose 5-2 at home against Inter. Roma come into this game in 10th place with one win, one draw and one defeat although a win here would see them leap frog Benevento.

Sad news for Roma legend Francesco Totti

There was terrible news for Francesco Totti, the Roma legend’s father passed away due to complications from Covid-19 highlighting how dangerous the pandemic is. Enzo Totti was 76 and had been in ill health recently as he had suffered a heart attack a few years ago. This will come as devastating news for the many fans and followers of Roma.

Top 3 best Roma players in fantasy football heading into Matchday 4

How many Roma players do you have in your fantasy football team? Do you have the right ones? Let’s check out the top 3 players that have accumulated the most points since the beginning of the season, and use the links to check out their value and stats.

1. Jordan Veretout- 12pts

2. Antonio Mirante-  12pts

3. Ibanez -                9pts

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Roma hold champions Juventus to a 2-2 draw despite Cristiano Ronaldo double

Roma held the best side in Serie A to a draw at Stadio Olimpico as the two sides drew 2-2 in a very entertaining game of football.

The home side knew from the beginning how important it would be to claim something in the game after their chaotic start to the season saw them default their first match and lose 3-0 to Verona after a mix up in their team selection (the actual game had finished 0-0). So a point at least here was needed, and they got it in the end although because Juventus were playing with 10 men after Adrian Rabiot was sent off Roma may feel aggrieved that they couldn’t find the 3rd goal to finish off the current champions.

Rabiot had a bad game to say the least and it was his handball which handed Roma a penalty after half an hour which Jordan Veretout converted, though the ball just squeezed in. But Juventus hit back just before half time, with the same procedure- a handball and that man Cristiano Ronaldo took the penalty and scored with ease.

Roma’s 2nd goal was classic counter attacking, right from the back and finished off sweetly again by Veretout. It was a goal that had so much skill in the build up it told you there and then that Roma will be in with a shout of a Champions League finish this season, there was a lot of quality in the goal.

Soon after Edin Dzeko who looked on the verge of signing for Juventus a week ago missed a good chance to put the game to bed, but his shot hit the post for the home side. And he would regret it as moments after Ronaldo made it 2-2 after a brilliant header where Ronaldo seemed to defy gravity and just hang in the air Pele style and still steer the ball past the goal keeper.

Roma now have a point on the board and come into their 3rd game of the season this weekend against Udinese away from home in 15th place although a win could take the club into the top 10.

Jordan Veretout has the most fantasy points for the club with 10. 

Roma coach Paulo Fonseca had this to say about the game: “Tonight was a wasted chance, I think we had a good match but I am not satisfied with the result. We had a good match that should’ve been won. I have total confidence in the club, the new president has arrived and we are constantly talking. We are working to find the best solution for the team.”

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Serie Best Fantasy XI – Round Two

Thomas Strakosha (7 points): among the four goalkeepers that managed to keep a clean sheet in this round, he was the one that was called into action the most and had a key save on a long-range effort by Marko Rog.

Adam Marusic (7 points): the Serbian fullback took over the left flank against Cagliari since Jony was recently sold and Mohamed Fares has yet to be announced. He was actually a force to be reckoned as he dished Manuel Lazzari a ball that just needed to be nudge in few minutes into the contest and linked up with Ciro Immobile to ice it in the second half. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 38 – Saturday Games

BRESCIA-SAMPDORIA

Brescia: they actually played better than expected versus Lazio, where they had some opportunities to score, in particular with Ernesto Torregrossa, but were unable to cash in. Several injuries left them with a skeleton crew as Torregrossa, Florian Aye, Nikolas Spalek and Jaromir Zmrhal are the only attackers available. All of them, excluding Aye, have been able to hit the net recently, while Sandro Tonali and Bruno Martella have been pretty good in the less offensive roles.

Suggested picks: Torregrossa, Spalek, Zmrhal. Continue reading