Roma-Milan Preview: Howl-oween

The most entertaining thing about playing a Jose Mourinho side is usually him, which is a shame for football. This season is no exception, as Roma have had some very disappointing matches, including a recent 6-1 decimation by Norway's Bodø-Glimt in the UEFA Conference League (Yes, that is Jens Petter Hauge's former side.) However, these wolves are certainly not toothless, and have a decent record overall. Milan are still missing plenty of players to injuries, and with an unbeaten record in the league have the most to lose in this match. With Mourinho having just served his first of who knows how many  bans for misbehavior this past week, he will be back coaching i Lupi for this one. Meaning that with his antics, it could easily be a Howl-oween.

Let's give him something to "howl" about

Roma currently sit in fifth place on the table going into this match, with six wins, a draw, and three losses in Serie A. One of those losses was their Derby against Lazio, but they managed a draw with Napoli last weekend and a 2-1 comeback win vs. Cagliari midweek. For that match, Roma lined up Rui Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Ibañez, Viña; former Milan player-turned-Roma vice captain Bryan Cristante, Veretout; Zaniolo, Pellegrini, Mikhitaryan; and Tammy Abraham. 

Mourinho has two long-term injuries, with Chris Smalling out with a muscle injury and Spinazzola still recovering from his heart-breaking Injury from the Euro tournament this summer with Italy. However, there are a number of players that Mourinho blames for the mortifying loss in Norway, so he plans to cut his own squad by not even calling up Mayoral, Diawara, Villar, and Reynolds once again. Unbelievable. Roma also feature former Milan player Stephan El Shaarawy, who has been improving in form since his vacation in China, albeit with basically the same haircut he had at Milan. 

BFFs: Best Football Friends (and another familiar face in the background)

The most interesting relationship in this match is actually a very longstanding friendship between the very talented Roma forward Tammy Abraham and our own very talented Fikayo Tomori. They came up through the youth ranks at Chelsea since they were both seven years old. Both of them came from similar backgrounds and even neighborhoods, and they used to take the train together each day to get to training, talking about their footballing dreams together. They have stayed in touch, so when Abraham was offered the deal at Roma, it was Tomori who talked him into coming to  Serie A, and this will be their first time facing off in Italy. Basically, if Tammy Abraham scores against us tomorrow, you can blame Tomori, even if it wasn't his error.

Now if only we had someone to blame for our injuries. But the club and Pioli still refuse to make excuses. The great news for this match is that Brahim Díaz has been training the past few days after testing negative for COVID, and will be available for Pioli, likely to get the start. Ballo-Touré has recovered and will be on the bench. Theo Hernández should be available from the start, having played 45 minutes midweek.

Yes. Bring back all the players.

Milan are still missing Maignan, Plizzari, Florenzi, Rebić, Messias, and Castillejo to injury. But Pioli won't freeze anyone out, the mentality of the two squads are probably polar opposites, with Roma players confused and deflated under Mourinho's reign, and facing their Norwegian golden Kryptonite again this week. Pioli's side are "on fire" with results, despite a few disappointing performances, but will be facing a tough match against Porto midweek in the Champions League ahead of the Derby next week. 

Some of us are still haunted by last year, when we played Roma to a 3-3 draw in October at the San Siro. Not only did we lose a couple of players and staff members last minute to COVID for that one, as well as the handful of fans that had been previously allowed to attend at that point, but the refereeing was unbelievably atrocious. It is still difficult to know whose performance was worse in that match, Giacomelli the ref or our backup keeper, Tatarusanu. Facing Roma again in October with him in goal can be terrifying, but at least we have Mirante on our side now, who was actually our opponent in that one.

Hopefully no repeats of the Tataru-oh-no horror show

Halloween is a day of tricks and treats, and this game could honestly have both. I am personally hoping that all of Pioli's hard work and the team unity and mentality he has built triumphs over any tricks the guy that calls himself "the Special One" has up his sleeve. Certainly Roma have some very talented players, but with Ibrahimović gaining fitness, Giroud giving a great performance midweek, and having players like Theo Hernández, Brahim Díaz, and Kessié back in the lineup, we can hope this one ends in a treat. 

This post inspired by the music of Ministry's "Everyday is Halloween"

Serie A Week 11
Roma vs. Milan
Sunday, October 31 • 20:45 CET (3:45pm EDT)*
This match can be streamed LIVE on Paramount+ in the U.S.
*note the time difference due to European Daylight Savings ending

Roma-Milan Preview: Howl-oween Roma-Milan Preview: Howl-oween Reviewed by Elaine on 9:00 AM Rating: 5
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