Claudio Ranieri picked up his first points since his return as Roma coach on Monday in a 2-1 victory over Empoli. Roma will continue their Champions League Chase this week as they travel to SPAL in another important match on Saturday night. SPAL actually pulled off an upset beating Roma at the Stadio Olimpico when these two teams met earlier this season. They are the only team this season to take beat Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. Even though these teams are on opposite sides of the table this could be an incredibly important game. Roma has had issues with consistency and finds themselves in a dogfight for Champions League football against some of the best Italy has to offer. Since Claudio Ranieri has taken over they picked up their first win but they need a lot more good performances to catch Inter Milan for fourth place. Roma is expected to have some of their players back after missing about half their team for the previous match. This will give Roma the advantage of having more players to Ranieri disposal will allow him to truly have a full team. Even though SPAL managed to beat Roma earlier this season they still find themselves at the bottom half of the table they are just 2 points from the relegation zone. It is important that they continue to play well because of how tight it can be during the late points of the season. SPAL as a chance and an opportunity to sweep the season series of Roma which would be historic. SPAL is a team Roma must take seriously having proven to hold their own against some of Italy’s best despite their league position. Roma will be favorites and will have more ammunition than a week ago but you can never underestimate a bottom past teams near the end of the season that is when they truly turn it on and as we have seen over the last several years these games end up being just as difficult as against the big teams. Roma has a big task on their hands. Will Roma going into SPAL and cruise to another three points? or will SPAL have another upset on their hands? We will find out all that and more on Saturday afternoon in what should be a very enticing matchup between teams at opposite sides of the table.
Claudio Ranieri was asked to do an almost impossible job last week with very little over Roma starters to his disposal. About half of the Roma team was out with either injury or suspension which made Ranieri team selection very limited. This week he will have more to his disposal and really get in tune with how he wants to play the rest of the season. Claudio Ranieri last week went with the 4-2-3-1 formation my guess based on things he has said he is likely to maintain that formation. However, it is uncertain if he will keep things the same due to the lack of players he had last week there’s still a lot of things unclear we don’t really know what football he likes to play we will find out over the next few weeks. If I am not mistaken Roma will have their starting defense back for this match after having very limited choices last week. I suspect Alex Kolarov Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio will all return to the starting backline. With Juan Jesus most likely to fill in for Alexandro Florenzi after his red card last week. Roma’s defensive Midfield Duo is likely to stay the same with Roma Captain Danielle de Rossi continuous injury problems Bryan Cristante and Steven Nzonzi likely to start together yet again. They have played together countless times this season as a pair I think it is the obvious decision in Roma’s defensive Midfield. As for Roma’s attacking Midfield, there should only be slight changes to what we saw last week. The center position we are likely to see Roma youngster Nicolo Zaniolo in the middle meanwhile seeing the in-form Stephan El Shaarawy and Patrik Schick on the outside. Up front as the main Striker returning from suspension will be Edin Dzeko returning to the team. This week Roma have more options Off the Bench with Justin Kluivert Diego Perotti as well as others. The key player for this match is Patrik Schick he’s coming off a really strong performance last week he will get his opportunities under Claudia Ranieri last week we saw him take full advantage of that I only see that continuing this week.
Spal typically has operated out of the 3-5-2 formation and I would find it highly unlikely that will change when high-powered Roma comes to town. Spal sits just two points from safety and will try to do everything they possibly can to steal points. They are in terrible form right now having lost four of their last five games. Defensive football is likely what they’re going to play it is going to be very difficult but they will try to do whatever they can it to steal a point from Roma. That’s not to say necessarily that spal will not attack but nonetheless 3-5-2 is a very defensive formation and their tactics around it will be trying to prevent Roma attacks which will be hard to do already. The Midfield line is going to be incredibly important in this game because if it gets exposed there be very limited at the back. It can be effective only if it is used effectively if Roma can poke holes in the Midfield it is going to make things incredibly difficult on the defense. It will be very defensive maybe even park the bus tactics they have lost so many games lately but a point against Roma would feel like a win. It is going to be incredibly difficult already but there’s one key player Andrea Petagna without question this is going to be a defensive game plan but because Roma is very exposable at the back is there if their best offensive player can get one chance and he delivers on it it can make the game a very interesting. If it is authentic fluidity it is unlikely that they can get a result but if it is a low-scoring game they can get a goal that could be very important in at least getting a point.
This truly is a battle between two teams on opposite sides of the table. This match is important for both teams. SPAL is just barely out of the relegation Zone I honestly think they are too good to go down but that doesn’t mean it won’t happen. That’s a very small margin between 18th and 16th Place if they don’t start picking up points and fast they’re going to get dragged down there. This is why I believe they will play incredibly defensive they want points and I feel like going forward and attacking this Roma team could leave them exposed while missing out on an opportunity to steal a point. However, with all that being said SPAL could risk losing to try to win that might be the best approach I doubt that’s what they will do it but if you’re going to go down you better go down swinging. I think they will use the Midfield as a brick wall trying to prevent players like El Shaarawy from breaking them down. If they fully focused on making him as uncomfortable as possible they could have a serious chance. From Roma’s point of view, they want to go all-out attack using their height and speed to break them down. The mission for Roma is quite simple you get through the Midfield and they will have a big issue stopping it. Raneri will get a majority of his Squad back after having to use second-choice players last week. Patrik Schick and Edin Dzeko will play together. This could be very interesting since Schick’s arrival to Roma haven’t really been paired together this is why this is so important. If you can find chemistry between them it’s going to be hard to stop. The defensive Midfield of Bryan Cristante and Steven Nzonzi can help them build up the play through the Midfield going forward if they execute their slick and short passing attack they’ll get through the five midfielders that will be holding the line for SPAL. Roma will have more firepower than last week I’m unsure regarding the injury of Lorenzo Pellegrini I think he is expected to miss the match but regardless Roma has more weapons and ways to hurt them. Roma is in better form but has a lost two of their last three games in all competitions. Despite that, this is a different Roma in the team they faced earlier this season. Bottom teams during the second half of the Season fight till the end they will give everything which is why I think this match will be very tough. However, Roma knows how difficult it is going to be to get in the Champions League. One slip-up could essentially dent their chances these are the games that Roma really need to win dropped points here could derail Champions League football. Roma are not a very good team away from home and it will be very tough I think SPAL will score in this game but it will just be too difficult to overcome as I believe Roma will hang on winning what will be a very tough match.
Roma’s Projected starting XI 4-3-2-1
GK: Robin Olsen
DEF: Alex Kolarov, Kostas Manolas, Federico Fazio, Juan Jesus
DEF MID: Steven Nzonzi, Bryan Cristante
ATT MID: Stephen El Shaarawy,Nicolo Zaniolo,Patrik Schick
Striker: Edin Dzeko
Manager: Claudio Ranieri
SPAL’s Projected starting XI 3-5-2
DEF: Felipe, Vicardi, Bonifazi,
Manager: Leonardo Semplici
Players to watch
Date: Saturday March 16th, 2019
Venue: Stadio Paolo Mazza
Kickoff: 12:00PM (USA) 6:00PM (ENG),7:00PM (ITA)
TV Broadcast: Sky Italia, ESPN+