José Mourinho has made it pretty clear that he is going all-in on Europe in the closing stages of the season. Despite that, Giancarlo Rinaldi says there were a few interesting points raised by the Giallorossi’s defeat by Fiorentina at the weekend ahead of facing Sevilla.
It’s a curious case in the capital city that one half has its sights on continental glory while the other ditched it for domestic matters. Roma could follow up their Conference League success with a Europa League triumph on Wednesday night but they threw away a lead in Florence in Serie A on Saturday. Did that outing of largely reserves tell us anything of their much more vital fixture in Budapest?
Don’t Forget the Pharoah
He has been far from a regular for the Giallorossi this season but Stephan El Shaarawy continued his good form with a strike to give his team the temporary lead at the Stadio Artemio Franchi. A goal in every game he has played in the league in the month of May has shown that he still has something to offer. He did not feature at all in their Europa League semi-final but he could be a handy ace to have up the sleeve in the final showdown with a sense of timing which seems to be clicking at just the right moment.
It was far from a first-choice defence against the Viola but still it must be a little bit of a worry that Roma conceded two such similar goals. A relatively simple cross and ball knocked back across the box was enough to gift Vincenzo Italiano’s men two very straightforward tap-ins. There will be no doubt that their Spanish opponents will have noted this potential issue and be ready to try to take advantage of it. Hopefully, the return of their more regular defence will be sufficient to ensure their European opponents don’t get the same joy as their Italian ones did.
Mourinho’s men have shown on plenty of occasions that they don’t need much of the ball to make you pay and it was a similar story at the weekend. The possession stats were heavily in favour of their hosts but they showed a sharpness in front of goal which almost got them the win. That level of precision and ruthlessness will undoubtedly be required if they hope to lift the trophy on Wednesday night. What their weekend game also underlined, however, is that your focus has to be for the full 90 minutes and beyond or there is always the risk that you will be made to pay.
Another game, another yellow card for the Portuguese coach who has racked up the bookings and sendings-off this season. You often get the feeling he has some ulterior motive for getting himself into disciplinary trouble and is usually trying to send a message to his players about the level of focus and attention he wants them to show. The club then went into press silence after the match – presumably in order to fully concentrate on the upcoming clash. If it works out, it will look like another masterclass from their coach.
It seems hard to believe but there was once a time when Andrea Belotti was one of the hottest goalscoring properties in Europe. His current version, however, is a shadow of that man who had chequebooks rustling across the continent. He has yet to score a league goal this season and he looked lacklustre once more as he led the line for the Giallorossi. Nobody will expect him to start in the Europa League Final but it would have been useful to have him in a little better form ahead of the game in case he is needed as an impact substitute.