Giallorossi Yorkshire’s end-of-season review continues with a look at five key games which summed up Roma’s 2018-19 campaign.
Read part one of the season review – five ‘What Ifs’ on Roma’s season – via this link.
Cagliari 2-2 Roma, 8/12/2018
When Roma travelled to Sardinia in December, they were facing a Cagliari side that had only won three of their 14 league games so far. It should have been plain sailing – and it certainly looked like it was going in Roma’s favour when Bryan Cristante and Aleksandar Kolarov gave them a 2-0 half-time lead.
However, in the second half, things began to unravel, and Cagliari pulled one back in the 84th minute. Deep into stoppage time, the hosts had two players sent off, but still managed to grab a last-gasp equaliser to deny Roma the win.
It was perhaps the first sign of Roma’s increasingly fragile mentality under Eusebio Di Francesco, which would rear its ugly head again several times throughout the season.
Fiorentina 7-1 Roma, 30/1/2019
This is the game that will, unfortunately, live longest in the memory from the season. Di Francesco’s side were dumped out of the Coppa Italia without putting up any kind of fight, looking like they were going to concede every time Fiorentina came forward.
Roma had lost by that kind of scoreline before, but not for some time, and when they did, it had been against a European giant like Manchester United or Bayern Munich. For it to happen against a side who narrowly avoided relegation, who only scored one goal in their last eight Serie A matches of the season, was an embarrassment of the highest order, and should have been the final nail in the coffin for EDF.
Lazio 3-0 Roma, 2/3/2019
It had been a disappointing campaign right from the beginning, but one of the better moments of the first half of the season was winning the Derby Della Capitale. In the return fixture, though, Roma fell to pieces.
The Lupi offered little threat at all, and matters were only made worse when former Lazio man Aleksandar Kolarov was sent off in stoppage time – much to the delight of the opponents.
To lose a Derby was bad enough, but to show such little resistance made it punishing viewing fans. It was the first time Roma have lost by that scoreline to their rivals since 2006. Di Francesco would soon receive his marching orders.
Roma 1-4 Napoli, 31/3/2019
Even after the change in coaches, there was another heavy loss to a great rival, as Napoli demolished Roma at Stadio Olimpico. Just Claudio Ranieri’s third game in charge, the team still very much bore the image of Di Francesco, and they crumbled under the pressure of their opponents’ attacks. Needless fouls were committed by experienced players, and little was created at the attacking end.
However, the game proved to be a turning point. It ended up being the last game Robin Olsen would play all season – and, probably, for the club overall – with Ranieri dropping the below-par keeper for Antonio Mirante thereafter.
Ranieri inspired the reaction that Roma needed, and beyond that point, they didn’t taste defeat again, closing the season on a nine-game unbeaten run.
Roma 2-0 Juventus, 12/5/2019
With Ranieri back at the helm, optimism was restored again, and it manifested itself most beautifully with the 2-0 win over Juventus. Roma soaked up the pressure from their opponents – showing themselves to be much more compact than they were against Napoli – and seized their chances late on.
Alessandro Florenzi scored with a neat finish to have the last laugh after being mocked by Cristiano Ronaldo earlier in the match, and even Edin Dzeko scored – for only the second time at the Olimpico in the league all season.
Overall, 2018-19 was a season of disappointments – some expected, others less so. However, there remained the occasional positive moment, such as the Juventus win, that mean that Roma’s next coach won’t necessarily have to start from scratch over the summer. The new man will be hoping, however, that his debut season will be remembered for more positive results in general than those listed above.