Serie A Club of the Round – Roma

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In a round that included just two shutout wins, by Roma and Milan, the Giallorossi got the best result of the week, even though they did not exactly dominate the clash with Juventus and were lucky not to go down in the score. Bologna had the most convincing display, but Parma’s consolation goal and the fact that they were gifted two own hauls did not make for a rich fantasy haul.

They had tied in Genoa the week before, letting Atalanta slip away in the standings. They have not lost since March 31st, winning four out of seven games.

Claudio Ranieri tilted his approach and went with an interesting tactic that saw Steven N’Zonzi as the lone pivot, sandwiched between Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, while Justin Kluivert started on the right wing, completing the trident that comprised Edin Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy as per usual. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 33

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Juventus: Mattia Perin and Sami Khedira will undergo season-ending surgeries for shoulder and knee problems respectively. Paulo Dybala sustained a quad strain against Ajax and will miss at least a couple of weeks. Giorgio Chiellini (calf) might be back next week, while Mario Mandzukic might not be back at all due to patellar tendon issues. Douglas Costa (calf) and Martin Caceres (thigh) will skip the next two matches.

Napoli: Raul Albiol (knee surgery) has resumed practicing and might be called up this week, leaving Amadou Diawara as the only injured player. Nikola Maksimovic will be on the mend for a while due to a foot infraction.  Continue reading

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 Club of the Round – Roma

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Three perfect results in this long Serie A weekend, by Milan, against Cagliari, Juventus, versus Sassuolo, and by Roma in Verona. While the Bianconeri had the toughest opponent, the Giallorossi were the ones that risked less defensively and therefore they are the pick for the club of the week.

They were coming off two draws in Serie A, against Atalanta and Milan. Eusebio Di Francesco did not really rotate the squad despite the upcoming Champions League with Porto and only rested Daniele De Rossi among the projected starters, who however is not quite ready to play twice in a row after a tough knee injury. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 22

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Juventus: Giorgio Chiellini suffered a calf pull that should force him to miss a couple of games. Miralem Pjanic and Sami Khedira returned in Coppa Italia, while Mario Mandzukic (ankle) is expected to be available this week. Emre Can is ill but available.

Napoli: Fabian Ruiz is suspended. Raul Albiol and Elseid Hysaj are fatigued, while Adam Younes is banged up: the first two have called up, the winger has not.

Inter: Matteo Politano was slapped with a two-game ban. Stefan De Vrij is dealing with some muscle fatigue, but he has been called up, while Balde Keita remains out.  Continue reading

Serie A Match of the Round – Atalanta vs Roma

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Chievo-Fiorentina was a little more bonkers, but Roma-Atalanta had a higher profile, so it is the pick for match of the week. Both teams came into the game in positive stretches, having won four times in the previous six fixtures, with just one loss, and firmly in the running for the fourth spot.

Gian Piero Gasperini confirmed last week’s XI featuring Berat Djimsiti and Timothy Castagne over usual starter José-Luis Palomino and Robin Gosens. With Cengiz Under injured and Alessandro Florenzi banged up, Eusebio Di Francesco moved Nicolò Zaniolo to the right flank, with Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole and Ivan Marcano replacing Federico Fazio, who was under the weather. Continue reading

Serie A Injury and Suspension Report – Round 20

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Juventus: Miralem Pjanic is suspended, while Douglas Costa (calf) and Rodrigo Bentancur (thigh) are banged up after the Supercoppa, but they could recover by Monday. Mario Mandzukic will be on the mend for a couple more weeks and Medhi Benatia remains iffy with a sore groin.

Napoli: Lorenzo Insigne, Allan and Kalidou Koulibaly are disqualified. Dries Mertens is trying to shake off an ankle sprain and his presence is not 100 percent certain. Marek Hamsik is not expected to come back from his thigh strain. Raul Albiol is fatigued, but available.  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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Roma riding high as they enter the international break

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After their season appeared to be on the brink of collapse, Roma rattled off four straight victories in the league and Champions League entering this week’s international break. Roma, who currently sit sixth in the Serie A table, have seemingly saved their season while manager Eusebio Di Francesco has warded-off the whispers calling for him to be sacked. The Giallorossi started the season in fine fashion Continue reading

Serie A Team of the Week – Round 8

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Most of the big names delivered in the last Serie A round, even though not many strikers managed to make it to the XI because of several good performances in the other roles.

David Ospina (7 points): six teams kept a clean sheet in the last weekend and, among the goalkeepers involved, Ospina did it against the most prolific opponent and had few eye-catching and unconventional saves.

Lorenzo Tonelli (9 points): he was the only defender to score this weekend and his header on a corner kick sunk Atalanta. He had a five-goal season once at Empoli, we might see that again now that he is back being a starter. Continue reading