'Qualification is up to Roma' – Spalletti retains Europa League hope against Lyon

March 19th, 2017

The Giallorossi coach has urged his players to be “stars” in the second-leg against Lyon as they look to overturn the 4-2 deficit suffered in France

Luciano Spalletti says Europa League qualification remains in Roma’s hands and believes they can overturn their first-leg deficit against Lyon to make thequarter-finals.

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Roma have stuttered in recent weeks with four defeats in their last six games in all competitions, including a 4-2 defeat in France last week.

Spalletti bemoaned some lapses in concentration in that first-leg loss and acknowledged they must be better if they are to qualify for the last eight.

However, he remains confident Roma have the quality to complete an aggregate win and expects his men to put on a show in front of their fans.

“We can’t afford to make bad decisions,” he told a press conference ahead of Thursday’s clash at the Stadio Olimpico.

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“Qualification is there for us to reach out and grasp. We cannot be afraid. I’m absolutely convinced that our players will want to be the stars of the evening.

Luciano Spalletti and Edin Dzeko will arrive shortly to preview Thursday’s #UEL clash with @OL_English… #RomaOL pic.twitter.com/U9joofIFET

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 15, 2017

“My lads are very mature and they’ll make the correct analysis and act accordingly. We’ll need something extra.

“We had a bad result, but we have to see it in the right light – if we’d lost 1-0 then we’d still need to score two goals, so that’s what the path is.”

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Striker Edin Dzeko, who scored in their 3-0 Serie A win over Palermo on Sunday, has urged his team-mates to step up their level and prove their quality.

“Everyone says we’re a good side and I believe that, but we have to prove it,” he said.

“Both myself and the whole team can improve, we all need to give a bit more than we have recently.”

Palermo 0 Roma 3: Visitors back to second as Dzeko hits 30th goal

March 19th, 2017

Edin Dzeko netted his 30th goal of the season in all competitions as Roma won at relegation-threatened Palermo to reclaim second place.

Roma reclaimed second place in Serie A from Napoli with a 3-0 win at Palermo on Sunday, courtesy of goals from Stephan El Shaarawy, Edin Dzeko and Bruno Peres.

Napoli beat Crotone earlier in the day to leapfrog the Giallorossi, but Luciano Spalletti’s men hit back with victory in a clash where they were well matched for long periods in Sicily.

Palermo thought they had taken an early lead when Ilija Nestorovski’s hopeful shot squirmed past Wojciech Szczesny at his near post, but their celebrations were cut short by the offside flag.

And it was Roma who opened the scoring after 22 minutes, with El Shaarawy timing his run to meet Clement Grenier’s cross and prod through Andrea Fulignati’s legs.

Further chances came and went for the visitors, who were then thankful to Szczesny for good saves from Alessandro Diamanti and Michel Morganella at the start of the second half as relegation-threatened Palermo chased an equaliser.

But Roma accelerated out of sight in the final 15 minutes as substitute Dzeko stroked in his 30th goal of the season in all competitions, from Radja Nainggolan’s pass, before Peres completed the scoring in stoppage time.

He’s on !

That’s now goals this season for @EdDzeko – he becomes the fourth #ASRoma player in history to reach that milestone! pic.twitter.com/OoxAVON0vc

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 12, 2017

Dzeko: This is my best season ever

March 10th, 2017

The former Manchester City player has been in prolific form for the Italian side, with 29 goals to his name in the current campaign

Roma forward Edin Dzeko believes he is having his “best season ever” as he prepares for a Europa League clash with Lyon.

The 30-year-old is enjoying his second campaign in Italy, having signed from Manchester City in 2015, and has scored 29 goals in all competitions this term.

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Eight of those have come in Europe – including two hat-tricks – and, ahead of facing Lyon in their last-16, first-leg clash, Dzeko spoke about hitting his peak.

“I’m 30, nearly 31, and I admit that this is maybe my best season ever,” he told UEFA.com. “I do not feel 30 years old.

“I’m fit and I am ready, but it’s no accident – I work a lot, before and after training.

Arrival in Lyon! #ASRoma #LyonRoma #UEL pic.twitter.com/TZ7oobJUF0

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 8, 2017

“Scoring three goals in one game is not easy, but when I do it in the Europa League it motivates me because I know I’ve achieved something big.

“It motivates me to keep scoring. I think those are my only two hat-tricks in the Europa League and I hope there are many more to come.”

Boring, boring Serie A? The haters should try watching Roma v Napoli

March 5th, 2017

Roma’s Serie A clash with Napoli could have a huge impact on the title race – and it might just be one of the best games in years

More goals than LaLiga and Ligue 1, a three-way title race and wanton abandon of defensive ideals. This is Serie A, but not as we know it.

This is a season in which bottom-club Pescara went months without a victory, losing two eight-goal encounters, and then hammered Genoa 5-0. We’ve seen Fiorentina net five in 33 minutes and Palermo, by far the lowest scorers in the division, win 4-3 on the road (Genoa, again) thanks to two goals in the dying embers.

Even Juventus have fuelled their latest title bulldozer with a formation change that has seen Massimiliano Allegri play two forwards and Mario Mandzukic on the left wing. “Nobody expected me to actually do it!” Allegri admitted. “I am not much of a theorist, but every now and then I come up with a mad idea and try it on the pitch.”

It might be a season to make the Catenaccio apologists cringe, but if these ‘mad ideas’ really are your thing, then don the straight jacket, head for the padded cell and prepare for Roma versus Napoli.

0 – AS Roma are the only side against whom Maurizio Sarri is yet to win a Serie A games in his managerial career (P5, D2, L3). Taboo.

— OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) March 2, 2017

Boiled down to the basic elements, each side needs to win at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday. Roma losing will give Juve the chance to open up a 10-point gap at the top. Napoli, who have lost three of their last four in all competitions, will be eight adrift of Roma in defeat and would start shooting nervous glances at the teams waiting to pounce on a Champions League place, Atalanta chief among them.

In years gone by, Roma and Napoli may well have weighed attacking tendencies against the risk of defeat and decided that putting the ball in the net just isn’t worth the bother. Only five goals were scored in their last five meetings prior to this season, with the away team failing to net at all in Serie A since May 2013.

The mould was broken at the San Paolo last October. Roma triumphed 3-1 in an engrossing contest, with Edin Dzeko scoring twice. 

The Bosnia-Herzegovina striker has reached the top of the Capocannoniere top-scorer standings, level with Gonzalo Higuain and Andrea Belotti on 19 goals, and he has another 10 to his name in cup football. He barely managed a smile in the final months of Rudi Garcia’s time in charge, never mind a goal.

Which of these gets your backing?

  https://t.co/5gezuWNfPW pic.twitter.com/XQf9q2kzxw

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) March 1, 2017

Unleashing his players’ attacking instincts has been a hallmark of Luciano Spalletti’s reign. Dzeko and Mohamed Salah are playing the best football of their careers. Radja Nainggolan has scored more goals (15) in his last 42 league games than he managed in the previous 201.

The story in Naples is similar. Dries Mertens has 20 goals, 11 assists and three hat-tricks in a season in which he has shed frustrating inconsistency to become one of Europe’s most devastating forwards. Lorenzo Insigne, Jose Callejon and Marek Hamsik have played no small part, either; in fact, losing Higuain to Juve and Arkadiusz Milik to injury has scarcely been felt, so ruthless have Napoli been in the final third. Manolo Gabbiadini, who has hit five in three since joining Southampton, was forced to leave just to get a game.

Towards #RomaNapoli , Gym session #ForzaNapoliSempre pic.twitter.com/GQiP0YJT1M

— Official SSC Napoli (@en_sscnapoli) March 1, 2017

Nobody has done more to silence the cynics’ view of a boring Serie A than Roma and Napoli. They have scored more goals and had more shots than anyone else, refusing to curb those attacking principles regardless of predicament: Roma, for instance, hit 22 shots in their 2-0 Coppa Italia loss to Lazio on Wednesday and Napoli had more passes, crosses and possession as they went down 3-1 to Juve.

Far from fretting over an unsustainable style, the owners have embraced this approach. James Pallotta claimed he should have sacked Garcia sooner and lauded Spalletti for his “passion”. Napoli’s film-producing owner Aurelio De Laurentiis, never shy when it comes to assessing his appointments in public, said Sarri should be heralded for “putting beauty into football” with a “fun” focus on aesthetics – that was, at least, until he got hacked off when Real Madrid outscored them.

Form and history are on Roma’s side. They have a 100 per cent record at home in the league this term and have been beaten just once in Napoli’s last 14 visits. But as these sides have spent a whole season blasting Serie A tradition to pieces, there’s little point in predictions. Just embrace a madcap meeting that could be the bel paese’s best in years.


Napoli will need to arrest a dreadful run of results away to Roma if they are to collect the victory they so sorely need. Scoring a goal would be a good way to start.

Here are some of the stats behind their recent meetings. Although they make for poor reading for the visitors, they certainly point to an exciting 90 minutes.

10 – Roma have picked up 10 points in their last four Serie A games against Napoli (W3, D1).

4 – Roma have beaten Napoli in their last four home Serie A games, and the Giallorossi have lost only one of the last 14 (W9, D4).

276 – Napoli have not scored away at Roma in the last 276 minutes against them: their last goal there was scored by Edinson Cavani in May 2013.

15 – Roma have won their last four Serie A game (13 goals scored) – at home, they’ve won all of the last 15 home games, their longest run.

9 – Napoli have conceded goals in nine of their last 10 league games, and they’ve conceded eight goals and faced 26 shots on target more than at this stage last season.

117 – Roma and Napoli have scored the most goals this season in Serie A (60 Napoli, 57 Roma) and have fired the most shots on target (187 Napoli, 156 Roma).

Roma boss Spalletti would not swap Dzeko for Inter ace Icardi

March 5th, 2017

The two forwards, who are due to go head-to-head in a crunch Serie A encounter on Sunday, have both been in fine goal-scoring form this season

Roma coach Luciano Spalletti has claimed he would not swap Edin Dzeko for Inter striker Mauro Icardi if he had the chance.

Dzeko has been in stunning form for the Stadio Olimpico side this campaign, scoring 29 goals from 35 appearances in all competitions.

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Icardi has been almost as important for Inter with 17 goals in 30 games, but Spalletti values Dzeko over the Argentine hitman.

“Would I swap Dzeko for Icardi? I would keep Edin,” Spalletti said at a news conference ahead of Sunday’s clash between Roma and Inter.

“Inter are a strong team that have struck the right balance and have a great coach.

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“But we are ready to take on a team in winning form. They have a good team, but so do we.

“Battles on the flanks will be important but both sides have other qualities too. It will be a hard-fought contest.”

The Giallorossi board their train for Milan! #InterRoma #ASRoma pic.twitter.com/6Bq1gIHQTH

— AS Roma English (@ASRomaEN) February 25, 2017

Roma sit second in the Serie A table heading into this weekend’s clash, eight points clear of fourth-placed Inter.

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