Score: Napoli 2 A.S Roma 1 FT
-Stadio Olimpico, Rome
Following Roma’s big win against Inter Milan last weekend in Serie A. As well as their disappointing loss to arch rivals Lazio in the first leg of the Coppa Itaila Semi Final on Wednesday. Roma would try to extend their home winning streak to 16 as they would return to Serie A action in their 26th match of the campaign. They would host Napoli in one of the biggest games in Italian football this season a game that have major implications on which club would end up getting the final automatic champions league spot. The media was calling it potentially the game of the season and we would not be disappointed two of the best offensive teams in the country. Both teams played very out throughout but it would be Napoli that would strike first just short of the half hour mark with a Dries Mertens goal to give Napoli the 1-0 lead. It would go into the half even; before Napoli doubled it with another Dries Mertens goal to give Napoli the 2-0 lead the Naples side stayed in front throughout Roma would nick a late goal scored by Kevin Strootman but late heroics denied a draw as it was too little too late as Napoli were victorious 2-1 as they would snap Roma home winning streak Napoli now only 2 points of Roma. The Title race is surely dead now as Juventus will be champions.
There continued to be more news about Wednesday’s events in Roma’s loss to Lazio specifically regarding the racial abuse towards Rudiger by Lazio supporters. There has been no fined or ban issued by the Italian Football Association which angered several Roma supporters as well as some players. It especially upset Kevin Strootman the Dutchmen spoken on it this week. “Yes, I heard them too,” Strootman told RAI television. “It’s always disgusting. Rudiger has not said anything, but certainly this is something the federation needs to answer to”. It really is pathetic that there has been no punishment regarding issues of this magnitude. In addition for his willing to stand up for his teammate there have been more rumors surrounding him as Inter Milan plan to go in for the 40€M rated midfielder this one is very unlikely to happen Strootman has going through many injury problems since his arrival from PSV in the 2013-2014 season this is the most he has played since he first arrived. He only has made 18 appearances in the last two seasons before becoming a regular this season under Spalletti he has on many occasions spoken about how grateful he is that Roma have stuck with him during that time where he wasn’t playing. So it’s very very unlikely that Inter will have any luck trying to lure him away. However also due to Wednesdays events Antione Rudiger according to reports would like a premier league move with Chelsea as favorites to land his signature however he has not verbally spoken about this so it could just be speculation but it very well could be true based on how he has been treated by away fans in several games this season. Luciano Spalletti made several lineup changes for this this game not only that but for some reason he made a formation chance as well. Roma have been using the 3-4-2-1 formation since Januarys and it has worked very well over that time they have only lost two games under that formation. For this game they went back to the 4-5-1 its unclear why the change was made. Woich Szcz?sny as usual would be in goal as he has established himself as Roma’s #1 the Polish keeper leads Serie A with 11 clean sheets there hasn’t been any new news regarding his future this week. Roma now with 4 in the back; it would be Juan Jesus coming in for Emerson and would slide down to play left back on the opposite side playing right back would be Antoine Rudiger than to cap off the defense the center backs would be Fazio playing on the left and Kosta Manolas as the other center back playing on the right. In front of the defense would be the defensive midfield pair. Danielle DE Rossi would come in for Bruno Peres as the Left defensive midfielder than on the right side it would be the Dutch international Kevin Strootman. Than in the attacking midfield we would see a return of the three headed monster; in as the center midfielder would be Raja Nainggolan than playing as the right wing would be Stephen El Shaarawy who would replace Mohamed Salah. Than on the left side replacing Leonardo Paredes would be Penalty Specialist Diego Perotti. Finally up front as the lone striker would be the BIG MAN the Red hot Edin Dzeko. The Bosnian target man is one of Europe’s top scorers this season with 29 goals in 33 games. It different look a strong team but I don’t necessarily agree with all of it.
It would be the highly anticipated match between 2nd place Roma 59 Points and Napoli 54 Points in a massive fixture that would have major implications on which club would grab the final automatic champions’ league spot by the seasons end. After Napoli’s recent loss to Atalanta it could be very costly if they were to lose again to Roma here in their fortress. A loss could end Napoli’s battle for the last automatic Champions league spot, and a loss for Roma would kill their title chase. Another derby another big time match as the two teams prepared for their second meeting against each other. Roma having beaten Napoli in October 3-1 in Naples the Giallorossi would attempt to make it two wins out of two against Napoli. However this wasn’t just an ordinary game among top teams this game means more than just a normal game as it would be the return of Derby Del Sole known as by many as the Derby of the Sun now this isn’t really a violent derby like the one Roma has with Lazio but it’s still a passionate one. The two clubs are considered the most followed and successful outside of Northern Italy Roma being from Central Italy and Napoli from Southern Italy. Roma leads the famous fixture with 61 wins with Napoli having 46 wins as well as 52 draws. This fixture is more than just that though these are the highest scoring teams in the league they have a combined 117 goals in the league. They also have two of the biggest goal scoring threats in Italian football Roma’s Edin Dzeko 19 goals and Dier Mertens 16 goals that’s just the start of it Roma and Napoli have the best midfield in the league way better than everyone else. This is one of the most anticipated fixtures in years near to nothing separates these two I’ve been on record saying that this is the last season of Juve. Roma and Napoli will be fighting for the title next year one of these teams will lift the Scudetto next season. Both teams are set up the same way they have the same philosophy. There are no real favorites in this match the only advantages there might be is Roma has won 15 home games on the bounce going into last season. Also Roma has the #2 ranked defense in Italy they have only conceded 23 goals this season. To be fair there really isn’t any advantages this match from every stretch of the word is by all means equal. Both teams were coming off loses in the Coppa Italia semi final matches against Lazio and Juve respectively so both team were in need of a boost as well as coming off a short amount of rest. Roma would welcome Napoli to the Stadio Olimpico on a Saturday afternoon after all the speculations and preparation for the game it was ready to kick off the most anticipated matches in years. It was a back and forth game from the beginning it was living up to the bill it was clear very early that they were two teams at their very best.
The first chance in the game came in the 12th minute when Raja Nainggolan tried to hit it from deep but his strike from outside his box was saved in the bottom corner. Not long after Napoli resounded to a very well executing chance of their own. Marek Hamsik sent in a cross for the talisman Mertens who tried to hit it home with his head but it miss fired as the ball went too high. Napoli had a quick fire chance later on when José Callejón strike from outside the box missed left. It was a very back and forth affair both teams were showing their quality in a thrilling match but in the 26th minute there was a breakthrough for Napoli. Near Roma’s danger area Marek Hamsik sent a through ball to Mertens leaving the Roman defense in the dust as the Belgium international chipped the Szcz?sny to give Napoli the 1-0 lead as the home streak was now under threat it would be Mertens 17 goal of the season.. Napoli would get another chance when Lorenzo Insigne’s shot went wide to the right. It was clear that Napoli had dangers that Roma hadn’t seen before. Roma would try to get themselves back in the game Kevin Strootman would get a chance when he hit a shot from the center of the box but was a little too high. Near the end of the half; Roma had several more chances. Stephen El Shaarawy had a great chance when Diego Perotti crossed in the box El Shaarawy got his head to it but he was a little off target the Italian has another chance moments later Stephen El Shaarawy after receiving a pass from the Danielle De Rossi would take a shot from the left side of the box but he misfired. Just like than yet another chance for Roma when Diego Perotti took a shot in the center of the box but it was too high but despite than Roma were fighting back they weren’t going to lay down despite being down they were fighting to equalize. The first half would end 1-0 Napoli a slim for the visitors.
The second half of this prime time match between Serie A giants the Derby of the Sun lived up to the pressure so far despite Napoli winning it has been a fantastic game through to first 45 minutes Roma were winning possession but as we know stats don’t really mean anything all it takes it putting away a chance. There were no changes after the first 45 minutes of the game both managers decided against making an big changes I trust Spalletti but I would of brought in Mouhamed Salah Roma would get the first chance of the second half Raja Nainggolan would receive a short pass from Danielle De Rossi. Raja would try it hit from distance but his shot attempt was blocked by the Naples defense. Than in the 50th minute Napoli would take advantage of another opportunity when Mertens would add to his first goal, Napoli striker Lorenzo Insigne sent in a cross from the wing into danger where Mertens would hit the ball off the cross to make in 2-0 Napoli scoring his 18 goal of the season in the process. Roma weren’t playing badly it still was an exhilarating and exciting game but Napoli put themselves in a great position to score nothing Szcz?sny could of done about it. Roma wouldn’t back down though they would continue to push on Diego Perotti smashed a beautifully hit strike but his shot was saved in the top right corner, as roma were nearly in. Diego Perotti was the unsung hero in this game he did everything in this game from passing to dribbling to getting off good shots amazing performance from the Argentine. Luciano Spalletti at this point in the game decided to go to his bench to make two substitutions Bruno Peres would come in for Fazio to replace him at e center-back position. The other would the Egyptian swap with Mouhamed Salah coming on to replace Stephen El Shaarawy on the left wing. The moves were expected as Roma was trying to add a different look so they could try to crawl back into this game. After the changes Roma got right back to it as they continued to attack the Napoli goal despite being down they were doing all the right things Roma got unlucky as Perotti send a cross into Kosta Manolas but it would be blocked by the Napoli defense not long after than Perotti attempted a shot but once again was blocked. Dries Mertens tried to complete his hat trick but left footed shot from the inside of the box but was dealt with by Szcz?sny. Roma for the majority of the second half was the much better team Bruno and Salah both got scoring attempts stopped due to Napoli defenders getting in the way of there shots. Than all of a sudden Dzeko started to make is mark on the game. Diego Perotti send in a cross from the wing into the big Bosnian but Dzeko’s header from the center of the box went a little high. Less than a minute later Dzeko had a golden chance once again when Dzeko took a shot from the right side of the box was a good look but it went a little wide. Roma kept pushing they just wouldn’t give it up Raja Nainggolan would get a good scoring chance but yet another Roma shot was blocked. Bruno Peres would take the ball off the bounce the Brazilian than shot from a tough angle but the shot went high. Not long after Dries Mertens had an injury scare so there was a slight delay in the game Napoli would go to their bench Piotr Zielinski replaced Dries Mertens because of an injury after the game it was revealed that he was going to be ok. Lorenzo Insigne would give Napoli a chance to extend the lead but he missed. With under 20 minutes to go Roma was running out of time; Mohamed Salah took a shot after receiving the ball from Dzeko but he would miss. Spalletti than would make his final substitution of the game for Roma Leandro Paredes came in to replace Danielle De Rossi to take over his defensive midfield position. Napoli would also go to their bench to bring in Arkadiusz Milik as he would make his return from an ACL injury. Than 10 minutes to the end Bruno crossed a ball into box to find Dzeko the Striker would hit it with his head but his header would miss right. Roma were relentless they just wouldn’t give up the game. It was most likely over but they were still fighting to get a goal back. Shortly after Dzeko’s miss Roma would have a great chance Raja Nainggolan would send a through ball into Mohamed Salah. Salah took a right footed shot from the center of the box but he would hit the side of the post. As he would express Frustration finally after so many chances Roma would finally find the back of the net in the 89th minute they would get one back. Kevin Strootman after receiving a ball from Diego Perotti would hit it from the center of the box blasting it into the top right corner to make it 2-1. It would be Kevin Strootman’s 4th goal of the season. Roma wasn’t backing down they believed that could get something out of the game despite it being in stoppage time. Roma’s man of the match nearly came up big twice Diego Perotti shot from the right side of the box nearly scoring but just missed. No less than a minute later Perotti fired a shot into the top left corner but somehow was saved was Roma best chance to equalize. With one minute left Dzeko tried to head it home following a corner but despite Roma’s incredible fight it was just not going to happen on the day as the final whistle blew Napoli picked up the three points snapping Roma’s 15 games home win streak.
Diego Perotti Battles Allen In Roma’s 2-1 Loss to Napoli In Rome Perotti did absolutely everything gave Roma everything he had in the defeat
Following the defeat to Napoli they would suffer their first loss at home since last year Roma now lost their second game in a row losing another derby. Roma played brilliantly throughout the game especially Perotti, he gave everything he had to this game. It was really unfortunate they lost this game now only were they the better team for the most part of this game but it now opens up the race for 2nd now only two points separates the two teams this also means the title chase in now dead surely Juventus will win the league however they might be a small chance as Juventus dropped points in their match this week. Following this match they head out to France to face Lyon in the first leg of the Round of 16 in the Europa league a good result there will give the team a lot of confidence. After that they will return to Serie A action next week against a very poor team in Palermo Roma have a string of winnable games that they need to do well in to get there confidence back before they’re Coppa Itaila second leg against Lazio where they are already in a 2-0 hole. I still believe that Roma can lift the Europa League and the Coppa Itaila. I’m gutted about the result obviously but Fair play to Napoli they played well. Despite the loss to Napoli Roma will get the final automatic champions league spot mark my words.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Diego Perotti(Roma) Dries Mertens (Napoli)
NEXT MATCH IN SERIE A: @Palermo Sunday March 12th, 2017
NEXT MATCH IN THE EUROPA: Round Of 16 First Leg @ Lyon Thursday March 5, 2017
BY THE NUMBERS
On Target: 4
Passing Accuracy: 77%
On Target: 4
Passing Accuracy: 75%
TOP OF THE TABLE
1. Juventus 22-1-4 67Pts
2. A.S Roma 19-2-6 59Pts
3. Napoli 17-6-4 57Pts
4. S.S Lazio 16-5-6 53Pts
5. Atalanta 16-4-7 52Pts
BOTTOM OF TABLE:
16. Bologna 7-7-13 28Pts
17. Empoli 5-7-15 22Pts
18. Palermo 3-6-18 15Pts
19. Crotone 3-5-19 14Pts
20. Pescara 2-6-1912Pts