Roma sack Di Francesco and hire Ranieri as caretaker

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Roma have fired Eusebio Di Francesco following the elimination in the Champions League round of 16 at the hands of Porto, which took place four days a shocking loss to Lazio in the Derby. Claudio Ranieri has been chosen as caretaker manager until the end of the season. They have also parted ways with sporting director Monchi.

Di Francesco has been on the hot seat in mid-December while the team was slumping again after a pretty mediocre start, but the Giallorossi appeared to turn things around by winning six of the following eight rounds in the following two months. They almost completely erased the gap that separated them from the Champions League zone, but that was not to save his job after what transpired in the last few days. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Picks – Round 25

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Robin Olsen: Roma do not have the most airtight defense this year, but they will square off against Frosinone in this round, which have failed to score in four straights home fixtures. Olsen is coming off a superlative performance against Bologna.

Nicola Murru: Sampdoria are slumping, but in this weekend they will face Cagliari, which will be offensively challenged with few of their attackers on the sidelines and also have failed to hit the net in three straight road games. Murru has the most upside out of the Blucerchiati defenders, but the other regulars Bartosz Bereszynski and Joachim Andersen would be fine choices too. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 24

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Juventus: Leonardo Bonucci and Giorgio Chiellini have been called up, while Douglas Costa remains out with a quad problem. Daniele Rugani has a sore thigh, but he is in the squad list. Alex Sandro is suspended.

Napoli: Dries Mertens and Simone Verdi missed the midweek Europa League clash due to a contracture and a bruised knee respectively, but they have been able to recover. Raul Albiol underwent a clean-up surgery on the patellar tendon of the left knee and will miss six-to-eight weeks. Mario Rui suffered a thigh pull and will be sidelined this week.

Inter: Sime Vrsaljko had season-ending knee surgery. Balde Keita’s recovery from a thigh strain has had a hiccup and he will not be available this week. Mauro Icardi has a sore knee and will not be called up this week.  Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Roma vs Milan

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There were a couple of compelling and down-to-the-wire matches in this round, but the most anticipated one did not disappoint, even though it was not the highest scoring one, so Roma-Milan gets the shout-out.

Roma were coming off four hellish days, as they wasted a three-nothing lead against Atalanta in Serie A play and more importantly were smoked by Fiorentina in Coppa Italia. The vultures have started gathering over Eusebio Di Francesco’s head, even though the recent results were actually fine, but obviously a 1-7 loss in a big black eye. Quite the opposite for Milan, who immediately reaped the benefits on their investment on Krzysztof Piatek, who carried them past Napoli in the domestic cup, and had tied with the Azzurri in the previous round. Continue reading

Serie A Club of the Week – Roma

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Just two teams were successful in both matches this week: Roma and Inter. The Beneamata did it by topping Napoli and Empoli with two 1-0 win, so the Giallorossi were certainly a little more impressive, despite conceding one late versus Sassuolo.

La Lupa so far have had all kinds of troubles, from chemistry and consistency problems to defensive leakiness, but at least they have solved the injury crisis, as Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Diego Perotti and Javier Pastore recovered from their ailments and three of them were able to get meaningful minutes. They should all be up and running after the break, giving Eusebio Di Francesco a vast array of weapons to choose from, considering that Cengiz Under, Nicolò Zaniolo, Justin Kluivert and even Patrik Schick have shown some flashes. Continue reading

Roma in desperate need of reinforcements as January transfer window approaches

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The final whistle sounded late Saturday evening in Turin as Roma lost their fifth match of the season thanks to their 1-0 defeat against Juventus. The defeat dropped the Giallorossi to 10th place in Serie A and marked another negative chapter in the horror novel that has been their 2018/2019 campaign.

While the performance was certainly better than what was on display in recent weeks, there was very little consolation for Roma as they’re four points off the final Champions League place.

Despite the season being nothing short of a nightmare, Roma somehow still find themselves within striking distance of that Champions League place. With crucial upcoming clashes against Parma and Sassuolo, anything short of six points would be disastrous for Eusebio Di Francesco’s men.

And the Italian tactician has shouldered the majority of the blame for the team’s struggles this season, there is no doubting that the team’s lack of depth has been a major issue — something sporting director Monchi must absolutely be held accountable for.

There’s several reasons why Roma find themselves in the position they’re currently in, but it’s certainly acceptable to point to last summer’s underwhelming transfer campaign as a major reason.

The Giallorossi waived goodbye to Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and Alisson in the summer yet still brought in big names such as Steven Nzonzi, Bryan Cristante and Javier Pastore for the midfield, while Robin Olsen was tabbed as Roma’s new #1 in goal.

Despite extremely poor seasons from Nainggolan and Strootman in 2017/2018, Roma don’t seem to miss their abilities on the pitch as much as their character and personality in the dressing room.

Manager Eusebio Di Francesco has constantly cited the team’s poor mental approach, attitude and character throughout the season — leaving many to wonder why Monchi didn’t bring in players with characteristics similar to those of the departed Belgian and Dutchman.

With the January transfer market officially opening in just a few days, Monchi now finds himself in a peculiar position: it’s obvious Roma need solutions in every area of the pitch, however, he’s essentially working with a zero budget as the club continues to spend conservatively due to their books still being in the red.

While you could make the argument that every single position needs an upgrade, the Spanish director already has his sights set on two key roles — striker and defensive midfielder.

Monchi has been holding talks for over a month to try and find a player to who can play the mediano role in Di Francesco’s 4-2-3-1. In recent days, though, talks for a new striker have been increasing dramatically. The Spaniard is ready to waive the white flag on the disastrous campaign of Patrik Schick, Roma’s most expensive purchase, and allow the Czech to leave on loan to find calm and continuity.

With Schick potentially leaving, one name Monchi has his eyes on is Michy Batshuayi. The Belgian striker, who has been enduring a nightmare loan spell with Valencia, is ready to end his tenure in Spain early and one option is joining Roma. Batshuayi would bring a much-needed scoring presence after the Giallorossi have been lifeless in attack all season — which hasn’t been helped by the long injury layoff of Edin Dzeko.

So with the January transfer just days away and lasting only for one month, Monchi will be forced to work both diligently and quickly to bring in the needed reinforcements for Roma. Should he fail to bring in the proper firepower that the Giallorossi are clearly yearning for — Roma just may see themselves miss out on the Champions League for the first time since the 2012/2013 season.

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Serie A Match of the Round – Roma vs Genoa

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Roma-Genoa was pretty much the only back and forth game of the weekend and it had plenty of storylines in it, so it is an easy choice for match of the round. The Giallorossi were coming off two straight 2-2 ties, with different flavor, against Inter and Cagliari and had prevailed just once in the past seven fixtures. Genoa drew in Cesare Prandelli’s debut versus SPAL and have not won since September 30th.

Eusebio Di Francesco, who has been on the hot seat for a while, made the bold move of benching Patrik Schick after two wasteful outings and opted for a three-man defense and a light front-line composed by Cengiz Under, Nicolò Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert. Genoa were without the suspended Domenico Criscito, replaced here by Ervin Zukanovic, but pretty much stuck with their usual XI, with Romulo and Darko Lazovic wide and Sandro anchoring the midfield. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Recap – Round 16

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Standings implications: Juventus squeezed past Torino in the Derby della Mole, but Napoli maintained the distance with a late gem in Cagliari. Inter continue to rack up home wins as Udinese were their latest victim. Atalanta edged Lazio, confirming their high ambitions for the season. Roma prevailed in a rollercoaster of a game versus Genoa. Fiorentina and Sassuolo were able to pop Empoli and Frosinone, snapping out of their lengthy droughts. Sampdoria also got a win down in the Europa League morass. SPAL and Chievo shared the spoils in a more intense match than what the result indicates. Continue reading