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Roma-Milan Preview: Wolf Trap



This matchup is never boring. But the results of the past week have made it a lot more interesting, at least for Milan fans. After coughing up a 3-0 lead to end up drawing Atalanta on the weekend, Roma were absolutely brutalized by Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia quarterfinals. Their fans pelted their bus with objects as they returned home, and Di Francesco’s job is increasingly hanging in the balance. Meanwhile, Milan, after an impressive draw against second place Napoli on Saturday, beat that same team in the Coppa Italia on Tuesday. So Milan are flying high, and Roma are at an all-time low for this season. Will they fight back and make us their victims? Or will Milan put another nail in their coffin? This game could be a massive wolf trap.

Current mood

Di Francesco is a much beloved coach for his amazing work at Sassuolo, but has failed to live up to expectations as Roma. Which is unfortunate, because failing to live up to expectations is what Roma do best, it’s difficult for even the best of coaches. But the 7-1 destruction at the hands of Fiorentina is unacceptable even for an underperforming team. For that fateful match, the dead-man-walking manager lined up: Olsen; Fazio, Kolarov, Manolas, Florenzi, Pastore, N’Zonzi, El Shaarawy, Cristante, Zaniolo, and Schick.

The spirited Edin Dzeko was a sub in that match, but got himself sent off. Reports say he spit at the referee, which should mean a hefty ban. But because it was the Coppa Italia, the ban should only apply to those matches, meaning he would be available to face us on Sunday. However, N’Zonzi and former Milan “I want more playing time, I’m leaving you” midfielder Cristante are both suspended in the league, so will not be available to face us. Also not available are √únder, Perotti, and Juan Jesus. De Rossi is just coming back from injury, but should be available and will possibly start because of missing midfielders.

Ouch

Whereas morale at Roma is rock bottom, Milan have been building consistency, clean sheets, and oh yeah, wins. Which means our confidence is very solid right now. I like to think that Gattuso will keep the egos in check, but the risk of overconfidence is probably our own worst enemy. We sit one point ahead of Roma in fourth place, and the goal is to keep fourth place and widen the gap a bit to give us some breathing room.

There were rumors this week that Biglia could be available for this match, but I have my doubts as to whether Gatttuso would give him any time, or even remember to sub at all until the 85th minute. Caldara is also nearing a return, but Musacchio is going to give him a good fight for that starting spot, he has been a beast lately. Zapata forfeits that spot by way of injury, Reina is injured, and obviously, we are all still missing Bonaventura, who is still out for the season. But that is a very short injury list for this season, and Gattuso proved on Tuesday that even our bench players can’t stop us now.

(drooling)

If Roma are as deflated as they looked this week, then Piatek or Cutrone could waltz right past their defense like Chiesa and company did and rack up some serious goals, too. Even Borini's mother could have scored on that defense. But they are wolves, and wolves don’t back down from a confrontation. With the results on paper, this could easily be a trap. Whether it’s the obvious trap, and Milan go to Rome and come back with three points, or if it’s a trap for Milan, where egos and complacency destroy our form and we come back in fifth place is the big question. Unlike Juventus midweek, Milan need to stay focused and humble and work hard to avoid the wolf trap.


This post inspired by the music of Duran Duran’s “Hungry Like the Wolf”



Serie A Week 22
Roma vs. Milan
Sunday, Februay 3 • 20:30 CET (2:30pm EST)
This match will be shown LIVE on RAI Italia in the U.S.
The match can also be streamed LIVE on ESPN+ in the U.S.