Gattuso must win next three league games before Milan derby

gattuso-bonaventura-web

It’s been a disappointing start to the season so far from a Rossoneri point of view. After the hard lessons from the beginning of the last campaign, many would have imagined that Gennaro Gattuso’s side will commence the league in a most impressive way, but it’s been far from that.

The Rossoneri have only mustered just a win from four games and sit in 12th position with five points. Despite playing a game less than their rivals, the Diavolo have lost five points from winning positions against Napoli and Atalanta. It’s not much of a big deal looking at the opponents involved. The Rossoneri have failed to beat Atalanta in their last four games at the San Siro and Sunday’s game seems to be an improvement on the two zero defeat they suffered at the hands of the Bergamo side last season. It’s also demonstrate the current level of the most successful Italian side in Europe.

On 21th of October, Milan play away to Inter at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza. The Diavolo must win their next three games and put an end to their unsettling start before Derby della Madonnina.

A big reason for their struggles is their defensive deficiencies, a problem, that plague them last season. If they can cut out the errors that blighted them in the first round of the previous campaign, Milan can, and should improve on their performance last year. The Rossoneri are yet to keep a clean sheet after conceding six goals in four games.

Tonight, Gattuso’s men play away to Empoli, who lie in 17th place with a four points tally. Aurelio Andreazzoli side has lost three games from five games, recording just a win and a draw so far this season. The last time the Milan visited the Stadio Carlo Castellani, they triumphed by four goals to one, and they will be looking to repeat such performance this evening to lift the mood around the team and provide hope to fans.

After the match against Empoli is a tricky away fixture to Sassuolo. The Mapei side are currently third in the league rung with 10 points after winning three games and a draw after five matches. The key figure in this encounter will be Kevin Prince Boateng. Boateng spent his best playing years with the San Siro outfit where he won the Scudetto in 2010 with current Milan Boss Gennaro Gattuso. The former Milan midfielder has brought more energy and bite to Sassuolo’s attack, scoring three goals in five appearances for his new club. Sassuolo play seventh placed Spal this evening away from home and hope to continue on their impressive start to their league campaign so far this season.

On the 7th of October, Milan will look to take advantage of Chievo Verona wretched situation in the league when they play them at the San Siro. Recent history suggests that, Milan do struggle against teams in the bottom half of the league table. Last season, newly promoted side Benevento, managed to secure their first point of the season against the Rossoneri after Benevento goalkeeper Alberto Brignoli scored a late equalizer from a corner kick.

Milan must be at their creative best when they play against Inter on the 21st October, as Lucciano Spalletii’s team is beginning to find their stride after an incredible turnaround against Spurs in the Champions League. Inter have won three games in a roll now, and are looking the sum of their parts after their hard earned two one victory over Fiorentina last night. They’ve leapt into fifth position after with 10 points from six games. There is a wave of optimism surging through the Nerazzurri, hence Milan must win their next three games to keep up the pace with their city rivals. .

One player yet to catch light this season for the Rosoneri is Hakan Calhanoglu. The Turkish international is yet to give his best performance after a blistering man of the match display in the 5-1 win over Fiorentina at the end of last season. The Former Leverkusen playmaker has not registered an assist or a goal in the last three games, and the next three matches give him an excellent opportunity to break the duck. He together with Jack Bonaventura is supposed to be the hub of the team’s creative play.

Despite showing the ability to score goals, Milan struggle to put games to bed. Failing to secure three maximum points from these games may put a dent in their champions league hopes. Gattuso is staring at the prospect of a second season without Europe’s top tier football. Milan can make a significant step up if they can chisel some positive results out of the next three games before the Milan Derby.
How well do you know Italian Football? Want to challenge the best Fantasy Managers? Play www.seriea-fantasy.com now!

Luciano Spalletti should shoulder blame for Inter’s earlier wobbles.

spalletti

If you cast your mind back to how Luciano Spalletti’s team started last season, you realize that Inter Milan have been less productive this season. Before their one zero win over Sampdoria last Saturday, the Nerazzurri had amassed just four points from four games and sat 15th position on the league rung. That is nine points short of what they achieved after match day four in the previous campaign.

There are a couple of factors that have accounted for this bad start, and one of them could be laid right at the doorstep of the manager Luciano Spalletti. Spalletti has been doing a lot of tinkering with his team selection and system, which hasn’t helped them much. It’s quite understandable that the Italian tactician wants to his new recruits to bed into his method and assimilate his ideas very early in the season, but the lack of consistency in his approach has been problematic.

Now let’s photograph some of Luciano Spalletti’s confusion with clear illustrations.

In Inter’s opening fixture against Sassuolo at the MAPEI Stadium, the manger played a back four which comprised of João Miranda and Stefan de Vrij as center back pair, whiles Dalbert Chagas and Danilo D’Ambrosio played as laterals. In the midfield, Luciano Spalletti opted for Matías Vecino  alongside Marcelo Brozović with new signing Lautaro Martínez playing behind Mauro Icardi. The captain had Kwadwo Asamoah supporting him from the left wing and Matteo Politano on the other side. Inter dominated possession but was on par with Sassuolo on the number of shots on targets and corners. In the end, the home side held onto Domenico Berardi’s 27th minute penalty kick.

At home to Torino at San Siro, Luciano Spalletti altered his starting line-up and changed the system to a back three. Miranda was pulled out for M. Škriniar alongside S. De Vrij and Danilo D’Ambrosio to form a trio at the back. Š. Vrsaljko and Asamoah played as wing backs whiles Perisic and Politano attacked the flanks with Icardi as the target man. He maintained the midfield duo of Brozovic and Vecino.  Inter squandered their two goal lead before the interval as Torino rallied in the second half to level the score.

Against Bologna, Spalletti returned to a back to four and made three chances to the previous line- up. M. Škriniar and S. de Vrij continued their centreback partnership. D. D’Ambrosio and Asamoah played as lateral defenders. Roberto Gagliardini took the place of Vecino with Radja Nianggolan playing behind Keita Balde Diao. Inter produced an assured performance in the second period of that game, scoring three goals through Nainggolan, Perisic and substitute Antonio Candreva.

It’s normal for coaches to rest players in a league game ahead of a Champions League fixture, and given Inter’s absence in the European Competition for the past seven years, it was imperative that they started with a win on home soil. And before that, was a home game against promoted side Parma who are proving to be tough customers for the established teams in the league. Spalletti maintained a chunk  of the players in the previous game but still made two changes with Dalbert Henrique taking the place of Asamoah and Candreva coming in for Politano.

The change of players and systems means the manager is not wedded to one particular approach, but it sends the message that Luciano Spalletti is yet to find the right permutation for the team. Nainngolan is a huge character in midfield, dominant and very demanding. The Belgian is all about strength, passion, technique and athleticism. Playing him behind Icardi or Keita doesn’t seem to be the ideal fit. Nainggolan has proven to be a threat from A distance with his long range shots, but he is not a reliable creative player. He can function better in tandem with Brozovic in the middle of the pitch.

In Kwadwo Asamoah, Spelletti has got a versatile player capable of operating both as a left back and a winger, but Asamoah’s favorite position, the role he revels in, is playing behind the attack. Inter’s midfield is currently oversubscribed with the manager having to rotate between Borja Valero, Vecino and Gagliardini. However, the Ghanaian will be a vital component in the Nerrazurris charge for a successful league campaign.

It would have been ideal for inter to have approached the Tuesday’s Champion league game against Totteham Hotspurs in a much healthier position. The Nerazzurri didn’t look like a team prior to the 2-1 win over the English side. They looked disjointed and uninspiring, with their defending a bit abject this season. Luciano Spalletti’s comments after overcoming Spurs was quite significant about his team’s performance “We weren’t at the level, in a couple of areas, which we had prepared to be. Some phases of the game could have been managed better. “A victory like this, after having come from behind, gives us a lot of enthusiasm and allows us to believe more about the future’’

We can’t say how far Inter will go into the Champions League, but after showing determined spirit to come from behind to secure a very important victory they could go far. The win over Spurs proved to be a shot in the arm for Spalletti’s men as they continued with another victory away to Sampdoria on Saturday. Hopefully Inter will make up for their early stutters to close the gap on their opponents in the league.

Support for the manager was beginning to sag after a year, but winning two games on the trot should blow the doubt and lift confidence around the team. Talent wise, Inter are the best of the chasing pack, but Spalletti’s team need to be a real title threat by churning out consistent performances. The manager’s lack of clarity of how to deploy his players in the right system is what contributed to their poor start.

How well do you know Italian football? Want to challenge the best Serie A Fantasy Managers? Play www.fantasyseriea.com now!

Modric wants Inter move but Real to battle for him

modric2Croatia star Luka Modric is understood to be desperate to leave Real Madrid in order to move to Inter Milan, but Los Blancos are remaining defiant in their efforts to keep the former Tottenham midfielder at the Bernabeu. With the transfer window closing on 31st August for both La Liga and Serie A sides there is still time for this deal to be done, but the two clubs appear to be at something of an impasse on the situation at the moment. Modric is, of course, among the world’s finest midfielders and with Real having already lost Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus this summer they will be eager to avoid another big name departure for Serie A. Modric himself, though, has made no secret of his desire to join Luciano Spalletti’s side.

Continue reading

Di Francesco vs. Spalletti: are Roma better equipped for Europe now?

3CA81138-EDAA-41DC-8C82-1F371A42925E

Roma have done the improbable.

After being favored to finish third in what many called the Champions League’s “Group of Death”, Roma have not only qualified for the knockout stages of the competition, they’ve finished first ahead of the reigning English champions and Atletico Madrid, one of the strongest teams in Europe.

It certainly looked like a much different Roma than we’ve seen in previous seasons in Europe. The Giallorossi were strong, never lost their heads, and were extremely compact in the defensive phase, as they didn’t concede a single goal at home in the group stage.

It appears as though Eusebio Di Francesco, who many thought wouldn’t be able to come close to replicating what Luciano Spalletti did the previous season, has already performed a minor miracle to help aid the Giallorossi’s European woes. In six matches, Roma kept three clean sheets, battled until the very end away from home, and were not at all short of confidence.

So are Roma really better off with Di Francesco at helm?

There’s no denying former manager Luciano Spalletti‘s strong domestic success in his second stint with the club, but what about European play? Let’s recap, shall we.

On 30 May, just two days after the final match of Roma’s 2016-2017 campaign and the same day that club talisman Francesco Totti announced his retirement from football, Spalletti revealed that he would be leaving AS Roma after having returned just 18 months before.

F8F77742-005D-42F7-B739-91FECCFB12C1

The news of Spalletti’s departure was no surprise, however, it was met with some worry and concern. Spalletti had just set a club points record with Roma and was able to guide the Giallorossi into the Champions League group stages thanks to a second-placed finish in the Serie A table. Many assumed there would be a major drop-off in quality and results regardless of who the new manager was. After all, Spalletti had built a squad with an incredible attacking prowess, that achieved incredible domestic results, however, for Spalletti there was the “one that got away”…European success.

Yes, despite Roma’s sensational form in Serie A, Spalletti never managed to, even remotely, get the club anywhere near European success. Historically, Roma have, for the most part, had the tendency to underwhelm in European play. While Spalletti isn’t the first Roma manager to disappoint in Europe, he’s perhaps the one who had the most-equipped squad to fight yet failed to get anything out of it.

Spalletti re-arrived at Roma during a tumultuous period. Roma were struggling mightily under Frenchman Rudi Garcia and were in serious danger of failing to qualify for next season’s edition of the Champions League. Upon his arrival, the Giallorossi were still competing in the Champions League and were preparing to face Real Madrid in the knockout stages of the competition. Roma were ultimately beaten 4-0 on aggregate, however, they did manage to impress in the two legs and showed more than they did in the group stage under Garcia.

The following season, however, Roma, after finishing third in Serie A the previous season, were in the preliminary stages of the Champions League and were drawn against Porto. To say that Roma “underwhelmed” against the Portuguese side would be complimentary. After drawing 1-1 in Portugal, the Giallorossi were thoroughly dismantled 3-0 in Rome. Spalletti’s side were unprepared, cowardice, and abysmal in the second leg as they were relegated to the Europa League.

Despite the fact they now found themselves playing in Europe’s second tier competition, many fans and media members conceded that Roma were arguably amongst the favorites for the competition.

In the group stage, Roma were paired with Astra Giurgiu, Viktoria Plzeň, and Austria Wien – which, according to UEFA coefficients, was the worst group in the competition. Despite this, Spalletti’s side were disappointing against vastly inferior opponents as they finished the round with 3 wins and 3 draws.

Spalletti followed up Roma’s disappointing group stage performances with an impressive 4-1 aggregate hammering of Villarreal before being embarrassed by Lyon 5-4 on aggregate, as the Giallorossi found themselves unable to get beyond the Round of 16. As Spalletti’s second spell with Roma came to an end, his fantastic domestic success seemed to overshadow just how poor Roma were in Europe with him at the helm.

2B821E1C-E68A-49BB-B9A9-70DEEEA1F823

So are Roma truly better off in Europe with Di Francesco at the helm?

While it’s still premature to definitively judge the former Sassuolo manager, the early signs are certainly very positive. Tactically, Roma seem better equipped, especially defensively, to compete against Europe’s elite. This isn’t to say that Di Francesco is far and away a better manager than Spalletti, just look at his results thus far with Inter. Nonetheless, given how Roma have performed thus far in the Champions League, Di Francesco is making it easy for Roma fans to forget the memory of Spalletti.

 

Roma look to overcome European demons in Qarabag clash

BD31C448-CC8A-4541-8794-D75DA90E3137

When the Champions League draw was held in late August, it appeared that, once again, luck seemed to have evaded Roma.

First Chelsea, then Atletico, and, alas, Roma, who were then followed by Qarabag to complete Group C. Yes — judging by appearances, it essentially looked like Roma would have to keep their Thursday evenings clear as they drew what many considered to be this year’s “Group of Death”, as relegation to the Europa League seemed like a certainty.

It was another cruel draw in a long line of European disappointment for the Italian club, and yet the competition hadn’t even started. On the pitch, though, Roma haven’t fared much better in Europe. From multiple 7-1 losses to drawing at home against BATE Borisov, Roma’s European displays over the last decade have certainly left plenty to be desired. Esteemed managers such as Claudio Ranieri, Luis Enrique, Rudi Garcia, and Luciano Spalletti were all given the chance yet failed to breakthrough the impenetrable force that seems to hold Roma back every single season in European play.

Enter Eusebio Di Francesco.

The former Scudetto-winning midfielder turned manager arrived at Roma with a bundle of skepticism. He was appointed to a club who had just set a points record the previous season, had their most storied player in club history retire, and were also going to be forced to sell important players due having to comply with Financial Fair Play. It’s safe to say that expectations, while always high in Rome, were certainly tempered.

Fast forward to today.

The Giallorossi now find themselves roughly 24 hours away from having the opportunity to punch their ticket to the knockout stages of the Champions League. Nobody expected this. Nobody. The club’s own directors, frankly, even sounded skeptical after the draw, as Roma sporting director, Monchi, said to the club’s official website, “I think we should be ambitious and believe we can go as far as possible.”

Roma’s position in the table is certainly a surprise and was unexpected, however, don’t let that fool you. Their position in the table isn’t due to luck or happenstance. Di Francesco and his men have earned their place. They deserve it.

1D6BDA5E-50D2-404D-A77E-DE91B7C85410

The Giallorossi nicked a good point off a strong Atletico Madrid at home, beat a tricky Qarabag side (who even stymied Diego Simeone’s men twice), and thoroughly pummeled the reigning English champions on two occasions.

No, this isn’t the same Roma who were embarrassed 7-1 by both Manchester United and Bayern Munich. It’s nothing like the Rudi Garcia led Roma, who were nothing less than a proverbial punching bag in European play. It’s a new Roma — Eusebio Di Francesco’s Roma.

A victory tomorrow evening sees the Giallorossi go through: If Roma want to make the footballing world believe that they have, at least for this season, defeated their European demons…this is their opportunity.

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

6E1AF8C2-9E28-45FF-A328-E9BB20941C53

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.

8667FB1C-0BC7-4FE9-A010-02C4C7199C11

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.

Spalletti’s Inter revolution in full swing

spalletti-inter

Inter take on Cagliari this Saturday, knowing a win would send them top of Serie A if Napoli trip up against Udinese. From the impenetrable performances of Milan Skriniar at the back to Mauro Icardi’s prolific form at the other end, however, the man behind the Nerazzurri’s road back to the top is Coach Luciano Spalletti.

What makes Spalletti’s start at Inter all the more impressive is how he achieved it. The 58-year-old had just guided Roma to a runners-up finish in the Italian top flight but nonetheless abandoned ship for the Beneamata, who were in complete disarray after a campaign that saw them make three coaching changes and fail to qualify for European competition. Continue reading

Retaining Perisic a huge win for Inter and Spalletti

perisic-1

The future of Ivan Perisic was one of the big talking points of the summer. It was no secret that Manchester United coveted the Crotian winger and that José Mourinho pushed hard to get a deal done. At the beginning of the summer, when the Financial Fair Play restrictions were still a problem for Inter, it looked like the management resigned itself to letting Perisic go and the player was very much willing to move to England.

Then, June passed and Inter gathered what they needed to fulfil the economic requirements through smaller transactions, so they started to resist the idea of selling one of their very best elements. The reports about the asking price are not unanimous, but it was at least €50M, if not up to €60M, which is not insane in today’s market, even though Perisic is a little older than some of the other stars that have moved for mind-boggling sums.

Throughout the summer, the newly appointed Luciano Spalletti worked on Perisic, trying to change his mind and making him commit to his cause. The coach, after some early openings, became a strong supporter of the permanence, especially in August, when it became clear that Inter would have struggled find a proper replacement.

Inter did not budge in the final days of the summer window and Perisic has been on fire early on. He has scored with a header against Fiorentina and with a beautiful volley against Spal and has assisted thrice in three games, providing two key dimes in the all-important Roma game. Perisic has always been excellent since joining from Wolfsburg, but he is now taking it up a notch: the sample size is small, but he never looked so engaged and so efficient. Spalletti has an history for getting the max out of his players and it looks like has done the trick again.

On top of the brilliant start, Perisic has signed an extension through 2022, which will earn him a base salary of €4.6M, making him the highest paid player on the roster, alongside Mauro Icardi, who could be getting a new deal soon. The resistance has paid dividends for Inter and it is a notable difference compared, for instance, to Juventus’ philosophy, which in the past has sold key players, such as Paul Pogba, Arturo Vidal and Leonardo Bonucci, as soon as they expressed the slightest intention to leave.

Battle the best fantasy coaches at www.fantasyseriea.com

Roma must act fast to solve defensive problem

rsz_rudiger

Roma made significant progress last season following the arrival of Luciano Spalletti. The Giallorossi stuttered through a season-wrecking winter period which cost Rudi Garcia his job. Recovery under Spalletti took Roma to the Champions League qualifiers and hopes of continued progression both at home and on the continent.

But there is one major headache approaching the new campaign. Roma already knew defensive reinforcements were required. But recent injuries have made them increasingly vital.

Antonio Rudiger’s ACL injury suffered during Euro 2016 preparations with Germany sent alarm bells through the Italian capital. The 23-year-old came into his own at the heart of the Giallorossi defence last term, stepping up in place of Leandro Castan. The Brazilian was on the mend following a brain problem, naturally a slow process.

That leaves Kostas Manolas in need of a defensive partner. Roma spurned off advances for the Greek defender and have signed Juan Jesus from Inter on loan. Castan has joined Sampdoria on loan this term, while January signing Ervin Zukanovic has moved to Atalanta.

It’s a similar situation out wide. Roma were unable to find an agreement with Paris Saint-Germain to make left-back Lucas Digne’s stay permanent and he has moved to Barcelona. Alessandro Florenzi regularly stepped in on the opposite flank and did well, but is not a natural fit. Summer signing Mario Rui was supposed to be the solution, but he too has suffered a long-term knee injury.

That leaves the Giallorossi scrambling. “His [Rui’s] injury is very costly to us because it comes in combination with that of Rudiger,” Spalletti said on Monday. “Earlier we were close to fixing our defence, but now we need to operate on it again.”

The boss confirmed Roma are on the hunt for two more defenders. But with little time to act. Thomas Vermaelen is the top central target. Tottenham’s Fazio is another option. Matteo Darmian is the main priority out wide, however Manchester United would prefer only a permanent deal as opposed to Roma’s loan proposal. That could open the door to Inter’s Danilo D’Ambrosio.

Serie A does not start for another three weeks, yet Roma are involved in the Champions League qualifiers. The capital club has attacking depth, but Spalletti will want his new players to have time to gel before those crucial matches in mid-August. Roma have misfired with late-window signings in recent seasons – for example, Zukanovic and Seydou Doumbia – and cannot afford slip-ups here.

If they do, it could well compromise the season before it has even got underway.

Roma must band together to end season on a high

rsz_atalanta-roma-7-1024x701

Two wins have given Inter renewed confidence they can finish in third spot, returning to the Champions League. While the Nerazzurri are gunning for a big finale, Roma are stuttering. Maybe they felt the pressure from Napoli’s own stumbles which opened the door to second. Whatever the case, off-field issues will not help the Giallorossi cause.

Francesco Totti’s season has mostly been experienced from the sidelines. It came to a head after Luciano Spalletti’s January appointment and the very public stoush between Coach, player and public. Should Totti be playing more, as his status deserves? Had he done enough to deserve a place in the team? The pair looked to put any disagreements behind them and the club ensured it was all overblown.

Totti came off the bench last week to assist Mohamed Salah in Roma’s incredible 1-1 draw with Bologna – incredible as Salah hit the post three times before finally scoring. That put a dent in their recent run, culminating in a 4-1 Rome Derby triumph. With Napoli losing at Inter on Saturday, Roma had to respond. Instead they threw away a two-goal lead at Atalanta and eventually needed a late Totti goal to salvage a 3-3 draw.

Then came reports of a spat between Spalletti and Totti. The boss wasn’t exactly complimentary of the captain post-match, and then apparently launched into the squad in the dressing room. “You never win, it’s been 10 years that you look like fools and that I have to stand these little school-groups,” La Gazzetta dello Sport noted. After Totti intervened with unknown words, Spalletti responded: “You shut up! You’re not the one talk, when you go around the rooms playing cards until 2a.m.!”

President James Pallotta downplayed the incident – as Totti did on Monday – but it’s not healthy for Roma with only five matches left. Second place is still a possibility, but after throwing away a chance on Sunday, looking over their shoulder at Inter to stay in third also becomes a priority.

Torino visit the Stadio Olimpico tomorrow, with Napoli then making their way to the capital on the weekend. Both are important matches that Roma must win. Toro have won three on the trot so cannot be underestimated. Spalletti must also deal with Edin Dzeko, struggling for confidence and with the fans against him. Between he and Totti there are issues in attack.

Roma need to be a united group as they push through the remaining matches or risk being caught by the Nerazzurri.