AS Roma travel to Florence for Wednesday night clash licking their wounds after a disappointing home defeat to AC Milan which left a sour taste in the mouth of supporters.
It was a tough end to February where Roma struggled for form in Serie A, 4 points out of a possible 12. With defeats against Juventus and on Sunday night against AC Milan, Paulo Fonseca form against the big clubs has come into question once again. This season Roma have struggled against the top 6 of last season and yet to beat any of them this season.
Sunday performance against AC Milan was a bit worrying for me, the first 20 minutes was a non-event. AC Milan bossed the game and attacked Roma’s weakness which was the make-shift defence and attacked at will.
Federico Fazio did not have a good game at center-back in the back 3, he gave away the penalty for a foul on Davide Calabria and then sarcastically clapped Marco Guida after he looked at the incident on the screen at the touchline. Fazio did not cover himself in glory in this game and looked off the pace. For me, I wonder if this will be his last appearance in a Roma shirt this season. He was subbed off in the second half for Bruno Peres which meant Rick Karsdrop filled in as the right centre-back in the back 3 system.
The tepid first half cost Roma in this game and it was stupid individual mistakes that cost them. For AC Milan second goal it was the poor kick out from Pau Lopez which was intercepted and AC Milan capitalised with Ante Rebic turning Gianluca Mancini and firing his effort across Pau Lopez into the bottom corner.
It did not help in the second half that referee Marco Guida missed an obvious penalty on Henrikh Mkhitaryan after a foul by Theo Hernandez. On replay, it showed Hernandez was holding the Armenian attacker. Mkhitaryan got booked for diving for his problems.
That could have been a statement victory by Roma on Sunday night, a win that would have silenced the critics about Roma winning against the teams in the bottom half of the table and struggling against teams at the top. But that argument was fuelled even more after AC Milan took the three points from the nation’s capital on Sunday evening.
Fiorentina have been struggling this season and find themselves in 15th place in the Serie A table with 25 points from 24 games, they do have a nice buffer of a 7-point gap from 18th place Cagliari who are in the last relegation spot in the Serie A Standings.
Already on a second coach of the season after Beppe Iachini firing, Cesare Prandelli has returned to Florence to take charge and has found his second chance with Fiorentina a lot harder than the first time around. 17 points from 17 games since his return in the Fiorentina dug out on matchday against Benevento. 8 defeats in the 17 games in charge for Prandelli has not been good viewing and that included a very humbling 6-0 away defeat in Naples.
Fiorentina run of form in recent has been very sporadic, in the last 6 games the Viola have picked up 7 points with 2 wins, 1 draw, and 3 defeats. The two wins were against Crotone and Spezia back on home comforts. The draw was battling point away at Torino where Fiorentina were reduced to 9 men after Nikola Milenkovic and Gaetano Castrovilli were sent off in the second half. Torino equalised with just two minutes left on the clock from Andrea Belotti. The three losses were at home to Inter Milan, away at Sampdoria, and at the weekend away at Udinese. 3 defeats in the last 4 games and 5 defeats in 9 games in 2021, it is worrying times ahead for Cesare Prandelli and Fiorentina.
The key players to watch out for in the Fiorentina side:
Top goal scorer for Fiorentina this season in Serie A with 9 goals is Dusan Vlahovic who struggled for form at the beginning of the season. With 1 goal in his opening 6 appearances under Beppe Iachini, Dusan Vlahovic was looking lost and isolated in Iachini tactics.
Since Cesare Prandelli was introduced, Vlahovic has looked a different player. 8 goals in his last 12 appearances for Fiorentina has seen Vlahovic show the potential and the scoring record that he has been threatening to show in recent years. He will be looking to add to his tally against a low in confidence Roma side.
The second and final player to watch out for is central midfield playmaker Gaetano Castrovilli. An easy on the eye player who likes to dictate tempo and glides past opposition players with so much ease. Castrovilli has been involved in 7 goals in 22 Serie A appearances with 5 goals and 2 assists. He started the season with 4 goals in his first 5 games this season which included a brace on matchday 5 against Udinese.
But the midfielder has struggled in front of goal with 1 goal in his last 17 appearances, that was in a 3-0 home win over Spezia. Castrovilli will be a dangerous player and will be key to Fiorentina chances to unlock the Roma defence.
PREDICTED LINE UPS
Dragowski, Milenkovic, Pezzella, Quarta, Venuti, Amrabat, Pulgar, Castrovilli, Biraghi, Ribery, Vlahovic.
Pau Lopez, Mancini, Cristante, Kumbulla, Karsdorp, Villar, Veretout, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, Borja Mayoral.
This is an important game for Roma and now a must-win game, dropped points in the last two outings against Benevento and AC Milan have seen Roma slip down to fifth place. A win is needed for confidence and morale which has taken a hit and more importantly for the club to finish in the top 4. There is still a lot of football left to be played, a win in Florence will go a long way for Roma to finish in the top 4.