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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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 19 – Remaining Games

BENEVENTO-TORINO

Benevento: they surely had a weird faux pas versus Crotone for a team that had been mostly steady so far. Moreover, their most prolific guy as of late, Marco Sau, got sent off from the bench and the always lively Roberto Insigne hurt his ankle, which makes him very questionable for this match. The only positive note was that Iago Falque managed to return after a long time on the shelf and bagged a lovely goal, the first of his campaign, but he has generally fared well whenever available to play. The injuries could thrust him into a major role this one, while Gianluca Caprari, who was banged up going into the previous contest, will surely return to the XI: he is their leading scorer with four goal. Gianluca Lapadula is their tip of the spear but has not hit the net since early November. With Pasquale Schiattarella and Gaetano Letizia missing, Riccardo Improta and Artur Ionita are set to be their secondary playmakers, but they have not picked up many bonuses so far. Aggressive midfielder Andres Tello could have a role as well. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 18 – Remaining Games

BOLOGNA-VERONA

Bologna: they could not find a way around the not-so-vaunted Genoa rearguard in the past match, with their attack failing to deliver for the fourth game in a row, given that their recent goals have come from Takehiro Tomiyasu (two), Nehuen Paz and Matthias Svanberg. Roberto Soriano, one of the early fantasy leaders, has found the target just once in the seven matches and has not been able to dish helpers either in that stretch, however he remains the top players in both categories (six/four). The other attackers have instead been able to take part in the teammate’s goals, Riccardo Orsolini in particular with two recent assists, but also Musa Barrow and Rodrigo Palacio, but they obviously need to start scoring to become real fantasy assets. As always, Barrow is the biggest threat, but they will face a really stifling defense in this one. Emanuel Vignato and Andreas Skov Olsen have not exploited their recent minutes. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 16 – Top Matches

CROTONE-ROMA

Crotone: they tried to keep up with Inter on Sunday thanks to the first goals in Serie A of Niccolò Zanellato and Vladimir Golemic, but they ultimately ended up being overwhelmed. Junior Messias showed up with an assist, his first one, while he has found the target five times. Emmanuel Riviere is taking playing time away from Simy, but neither has been very prolific or really dangerous. Given the role, it is unlikely that Zanellato will turn into a fantasy weapon: in the midfield Salvatore Molina (one goal, four assists) and Milos Vulic surely have more value, while left-back Arkadiusz Reca (one goal and five helpers) has been a valuable reference point on the flank. Continue reading

Romelu Lukaku can fire Inter to the Serie A title as club win 6th game in a row

One week and two wins have kept Inter in 2nd place in Serie A but the gap between them and their rivals Milan is now just 1 point. The good news is that the 3rd placed team Napoli are six points behind Inter and because the 9 time in a row champions Juventus lost at the weekend they are also trailing by six points.

It has been an incredible week for Inter who first had to face a top 4 rival in Napoli in midweek. It was always going to be a tricky game for Antonio Conte’s men and they were clearly the second best on the night. But in the end it didn’t matter, Inter came out 1-0 winners after a moment of madness from Napoli’s Lorenzo Insigne who gave away a penalty.

Romelu Lukaku kept his nerve to score his 10th goal of the season and the penalty would ultimately separate the teams. It was a huge win for the club.

Coach Conte was of course in full praise of his team. “A win like this one can do well, that’s what I told the boys.  It was not easy, Napoli are a great team It was a tactical match, with great respect on both sides. It was not a great game, but these are important points against an ambitious team like Napoli, always protagonist of our championship, these points are worth double.”

Inter followed up this win with another victory at the weekend as they beat Spezia 2-1. In fairness the first half was nothing to write home about as Spezia set up to defend and try to get a point at San Siro. It was no surprise that the first half ended 0-0. And Spezia had zero shots on goal and even Inter only had one.

The breakthrough finally came later in the second half when a terrific Lautaro Martinez pass found Achraf Hakimi on the right hand side who still had plenty to do but the in form player made no mistakes to put Inter 1-0 up.

A few minutes later it felt like game over when VAR had to intervene after an incident in the Spezia area which awarded a penalty to Inter. Lukaku who had scored against Napoli in the previous game from the spot came forward again and yet again made no mistakes to score his 11th goal of the season. Spezia did pull one back right at the death but the game was over and Inter saw it out.

In the fantasy points Romelu Lukaku leads with 46 points. The defender Achraf Hakimi who has scored 4 goals and been involved in seven altogether in a quite remarkable season so far has 29 points. In third place is Lautaro Martinez with 28.

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Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 13 – Top Matches

PARMA-JUVENTUS

Parma: they were pretty underwhelming in the Cagliari game, where Gervinho (four goals, one assist) confirmed to be in a pretty good run of form, but the prolonged drought of both Andreas Cornelius and Roberto Inglese is starting to hurt. The midfielders have picked up some of the slack, Hernani and Jasmin Kurtic in the particular as they have hit the net respectively three and two times, but it is not a sustainable model. Neither Yann Karamoh nor Juan Brunetta have fully exploited the increased role the coach has given them, maybe they will go with a more conservative option in this one since Juraj Kucka is available and he played in an attacking position in the past. However, he has not been convincing from the fantasy standpoint so far this season. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 12

Atalanta: Aleksey Miranchuk has cleared the COVID protocol and has been called up. Mario Pasalic will undergo sport-hernia surgery and return in January. Matteo Ruggeri (fatigue) and Josip Ilicic (strep throat) are questionable.

Benevento: Nicolas Viola has returned after some physical problems, while Gabriele Moncini (ankle), Christian Maggio (calf) and Luca Caldirola (knee) remain sidelined. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 12 – Remaining Games

UDINESE-CROTONE

Udinese: the Argentinian trio led the charge again for the Bianconeri, as both Ignacio Pussetto and Rodrigo De Paul hit the net against Torino, Roberto Pereyra dished two assists and Ilija Nestorovski chipped in late with his first goal of the season. Some improvements also out of Gerard Deulofeu, who set up a teammate. Nestorovski and Deulofeu will remain relevant until Stefano Okaka and Kevin Lasagna fully return, while Pussetto has played himself into a starter’s role, especially given Lasagna’s struggles thus far. He and De Paul have both scored three times so far. Pereyra moved to five helpers thanks to the recent showing. The two wingbacks Jens Larsen and Marvin Zeegelaar are only midrange options. Continue reading

Serie A Fantasy Preview – Round 11 – Remaining Games

SASSUOLO-BENEVENTO

Sassuolo: the machine is clearly glitching without Francesco Caputo, even though Roberto De Zerbi tried a new solution with Filip Djuric as false-nine and Maxime Lopez as no.10 instead of Giacomo Raspadori. The move did not fully pay off as they could not take advantage of the situation against Roma. Jeremie Boga has not fully turned the corner despite the recent goal and Djuricic is noticeably impaired. Their only weapon at full strength is Domenico Berardi, who has notched three goals and one assist in the season but has hit the net in just one of the past six rounds. Djuricic and Boga are obviously worth waiting for given their explosive potential. They have collectively failed to hit the net in two straight matches. They have always been carried by their attackers, therefore players like Manuel Locatelli and Rogerio, who are okay contributors, remain on the fantasy fringes. Continue reading

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