It’s a critical week for both Juventus and Roma, with the former already clinching a spot in the Round of 16 and the other looking to survive.
Is Roma’s whole season on the brink?
To put it bluntly, yes, it is. Rudi Garcia’s job as well as under the gun heading into matchday 6 of the UEFA Champions League. A torrid defense has put Roma in a do or die situation against BATE Borisov.
In August when these two sides met for the first time in their respective history, BATE stunned the home supporters when they went up 3-0 before Roma could respond with two goals to make it a contest. In fact, Roma have had the worst defense in the entire competition, surrendering 16 goals in 5 matches.
That’s conceding more than 3 goals a game – the fact that the Giallorossi are still in the discussion to move on to the Round of 16 is a miracle in itself.
Miralem Pjanic – Fantasy players, Miralem Pjanic is at the top of your list of must buys for the week. If there’s anybody who has been more or less immune to the recent poor form for Roma, it’s the Bosnian.
Daniele De Rossi – Risky, but it just might work. De Rossi has been in peaks and valleys this season and recently returned from injury. He played the full 90 against Torino in a 1-1 draw. He scored 2 goals against Bayer Leverkusen in Germany earlier in the group stage. His experience will definitely be needed for the Romans in this delicate tie against the Belorussians.
Edin Dzeko – He’s on the upswing since returning from injury, having managed five goals in his last eight appearances for club and country. He was all that stood between a Barcelona 6-0 shut out on Roma by scoring deep into stoppage time. His physicality in the box will cause problems for BATE’s defense, given that the wingers can provide service for the Bosnian inside 12 yards of goal.
Sell and avoid
Antonio Rudiger – You can practically include anybody from Roma’s defense in the sell or avoid column, but the German stands out. Torn to pieces by Barcelona’s star-studded defense. Would be surprised if Rudiger makes the starting lineup for BATE.
Iago Falque – Not a good start to life in Roma for Falque, 2 goals in 16 appearances and a resurgent Juan Iturbe will begin to cast down onto his future if things don’t start to turn around for him. Again, would be surprised if he is included in the group stage finale.
Lucas Digne – Guilty of being responsible for more than one goal this season. He’s also been on the pitch for every minute of the group stage, meaning he’s been on the pitch for 16 goals in 5 games. If you’re looking for a fullback to pick up offensive points, he’s not your man. 75% pass success rate with less than 1 average completed cross per game. Although he’s Roma’s starting left back, that’s not saying much given the options Garcia has at his disposal.