Roma continues to be in the midst of a Champions League race that seems to get more and more competitive each week with just five games to go Roma welcomed Cagliari to Stadio Olimpico in Rome on Saturday afternoon. In the last match between the teams, Roma lost grip of a 2-1 lead in the closing moments after Cagliari had two players sent off it was a complete collapse as Roma blew the two-goal lead in what was one of the most embarrassing moments of the Season. Make no mistake Roma went into that match yesterday looking to avenge that they came with a vengeance and arterial motives that go beyond the Champions League race. They came looking for Revenge and they got it. It was one of the best performances of the season from Roma a match in which they get even with Cagliari and a result of that helps them in the Champions League race. It turned out to be a very easy and simple game in which Roma completely dominated from start to the end. In the opening 10 minutes, Roma scored twice through Federico Fazio and an unlikely goal from Javier Pastore. Quite simply it could have been a lot worse as Roma were in cruise control throughout the entire match as they never took the foot off the gas. Cagliari provided absolutely nothing going forward and only had two chances that even remotely challenged Roma. At the very end of the match with just a few minutes left Alex Kolarov scored a third in what was the final nail in the coffin as Roma coast winning the season series as well as leapfrogging AC Milan retaking 4th Place as they are back in the Champions League spot following an incredibly strong performance. In what was an eventual 3-0 victory for Roma at the Stadio Olimpico. With AC Milan loss to Torino Roma are firmly in the driver’s seat for the final Champions League spot in Italy this season.
Heating Up at Exactly the Right time
A lot of this season has been very inconsistent and that has been the case for quite some time, Roma, starting to heat things up and turn this thing around. I don’t want to trap myself into this because we have seen this all before but nonetheless Roma are heating up at exactly the right time. A few weeks ago Roma got absolutely annihilated by Napoli as they slipped all the way down to a 7th place. It was starting to look like Roma we’re going to miss out not only on the Champions League but on Europe altogether. However this month things started changing slowly Roma started performing much better and collectively as a team they were starting to look like a team that deserves Champions League football. Claudio Ranieri made a change at goalkeeper and it’s thoroughly paid off. After a rough start to the month against Florentina Roma has been playing their best football of the Season. Even in the challenging games, they have managed to get through them the point. Roma now has the easiest schedule out of any team that is trying to make the Champions League this season. Roma should Win 3 of the last 4 games left. This seems almost impossible just a few weeks ago after the Napoli game they somehow came together collectively and got themselves not only back in the champions league right but are the favorites in the Champions League race. They must continue to play with the same momentum and confidence they have displayed over this last month. Whatever Claudio Ranieri has been doing it is working. I believe Roma will get Champions League this season is going to be a battle to the Finish but given the situation and the fact that their schedule favors them over the other teams fighting for this, it seems very likely that they will get champions league as long as they stay the course and continue to perform. They go away to Genoa next week which even though they were struggling in the league could be a tough match in that Stadium. Then Juventus at homes and outside of that they will win the remaining games if Roma can pick up 9 to 10 points over the last few games there’s no question in my mind that they will get Champions League football next season whether they deserve it that’s up to for debate but I believe they will get the job done.
Alessio Cragno’s Quality
Cagliari had a miserable performance but there is one player on Cagliari that showed extreme quality. Their goalkeeper Alessio Cragno who quite possibly could be playing his home games at the Stadio Olimpico next season. He has developed into one of the best young goalkeepers in Italy this season and yesterday was furthermore proof of that. Roma could have run away with this even more than they did. It could have been much worse Alessio Cragno kept this game respectable as long as he could. He made save after save against the team playing with confidence and Firepower. This is exactly the type of goalkeeper that Roma needs next season and I fully believe he will make the move to the capital this summer. He will come relatively cheap in this market and negotiations have already started between both teams. Everything I’m hearing to everything I’m seeing points of this happening it will be a huge upgrade over Robin Olsen who has been a disaster this season. Alessio Cragno was spectacular against Roma he made some unbelievable saves as he continues to develop and prove he is one of the best young goalkeepers in Italy if not be best. Hopefully, based on what we have seen against Roma it pushes the club to make the deal happen this summer but even though the score line was unbalanced Alessio Cragno proved his unbelievable ability he was brilliant.
Javier Pastore’s Return
Javier Pastore evidently was brought to Rome as a possible replacement for Radja Nainggolan this summer. His replacement did arrive but it wasn’t the Argentine midfielder that most people were expecting to take that role. It ended up being young Rising Star Nicolo Zaniolo the jewel of that deal. Javier Pastore’s time in Rome has been a little underwhelming. He has had some great moments the back heel against Atalanta, for the most part, highlighting his entire season. He spent very little time as a first-choice player for Roma. Lorenzo Pellegrini showed is unbelievable quality and what seemed like minutes took over his position and even though he has had some health issues he has been a first-choice player practically since the very beginning of the season. Meanwhile, Javier Pastore has dealt with some injury issues of his own. He has barely been featured in the team and months after injuries and the lack of form. He’s just not been viewed as one of the better players. However Saturday afternoon he was forced into play regarding the injury to Roma Captain Daniele de Rossi and a suspension to starting defensive midfielder Bryan Cristante. I don’t think anyone was expecting much from him when he was listed in Roma starting lineups and fact many of us well little bit annoyed by that decision. However, by surprise, the decision ended up paying off. Javier Pastore had not played for Roma in months, to be honest, I kind of forgot he was on the team. With that being said he had his moment he scored Roma second goal. He was the most unlikely goal scorer and yesterday’s match it was mind-boggling to see that. However, it also opens your mind a little bit if he can play the way he performs against Cagliari on a more regular basis it is possible he could be an option a few more times this season. While he’s not taking Cristante to the bench you certainly could fill in for Nzonzi or possibly Patrik Schick who seems to have lost his way. We’re not going to blow this out of proportion it was just one performance but nonetheless, it is a little bit encouraging. I do not think he should be a first-team player on a regular basis even with all the injuries but you certainly can consider him as a possible option in certain scenarios. I still do not believe he will be on the team next season and I think he will eventually be sold in the summer but nonetheless over the last four games if he is healthy and inform it could be a decent alternative. I don’t think any of us really expected his return it ended up being a pleasant surprise.
Cagliari’s Poor use of Possession
Roma completely dominates the game even though Cagliari had control in possession. Typically that is a good thing something that can be a positive statistic for a performance. However, on this occasion it was not the case. Cagliari had more passes completed by a reasonable margin as well as a higher percentage of successful and accurate passes. All these things are true but possession is meaningless if it’s not good possession. It was unbalanced it was unorganized and a lot of the time even though they had a significant advantage in The Possession battle they didn’t do anything with it. They didn’t play smart football it was a very poor possession from Cagliari and it was abundantly clear. They failed to create practically anything. They had two opportunities in the entirety of the 90 minutes that could have turned into something outside of that there was no creation whatsoever. Even though they do not have the players Roma as they have enough quality in their squad to have created a little bit more than they did. That was the biggest problem they had controlled possession meaning they can dictate the game they were unable to do that it was a complete let down part of it may have been that they are nearly safe from relegation so there was no reason to go that extra mile and possibly it’s a mentality problem this was not a performance to be proud of they really let themselves down poor use of possession was a big reason why Roma was allowed to rip them apart in the manner in which they did.
The Growth of Justin Kluivert
Justin Kluivert continues and continues to show tremendous progression this season. It seems every week he has developed a little bit more. He was absolutely sensational against Cagliari this week without question one of the best performers this week. He has been recognized just a few times for his work collectively in the league but once again he shows what incredible potential he has. Even though statistically he’s not going to blow you away from his impact on the game and how dangerous he can be as a Winger was absolutely on display he was truly breathtaking. He had an assist and quite honestly on the Roma third goal he created the opportunity. The way this nineteen-year-old kid can operate using his speed pace and athleticism is absolutely terrifying. He hasn’t had a sensational season but we have seen moments of brilliance he’s really starting to develop some consistency and justifying why Roma brought him here this summer. He will only continue and continue to improve because of how special he actually is. On Saturday in a game that seems like a must-win Roma has failed to capitalize on opportunities on an almost regular basis especially with seasons, he was unbelievable. The way he dictated the pace of the game got into great spaces and his ability on the wing to send balls in it to the strikers was very impressive. He is a superstar in the making quite clearly and it was a completely dominated performance by the youngster. Nicole Zaniolo gets all the headlines and for good reason he is the most promising young Talent on this Roma team but Justin Kluivert is not that far behind he has done things in big games that display his unbelievable future it was one of the best games he’s played this season there wasn’t really much to do to stop him he’s getting more and more comfortable and has really come on during the last few months of the season. He is a super Talent that is going to be one of the core parts of this Roma team in the future. He has everything to be a dominant player at this level and we have seen glimpses of that next season I believe we will be seeing more than what we have seen him develop that consistency and if he can maintain that he will quietly become one of the best youngsters in all of Italian football. His performance against Cavalry was just special there wasn’t anything they really could have done to stop them the way he was getting into space finding teammates and using his athleticism to keep the Defenders off-balance it was truly remarkable this kid is going to be incredibly special for Roma and I hope he continues to get the chances and the opportunities to display that. He is certainly part of the future he is a perfect player for Roma and someone that is going to be an incredible Important piece to Roma’s scudetto puzzle. This week he was as good as anyone.