Saturday July 4 2020
Roma reliant on Dzeko

Edin Dzeko’s importance to Roma cannot be underestimated, writes Wayne Girard, and there’s still a path to the Champions League.

The late June heat had created a tale of two halves, as Roma became exhausted in the last 45 minutes against Milan at San Siro. Having played one game more than the Giallorossi, the Rossoneri took advantage of their early return to action. They were ultimately rewarded as their pressing caused Davide Zappacosta to err, causing a turnover that led to the goal. In that moment, Roma’s chances of fourth place became the most distant throughout the entire season, and virtually unobtainable as Atalanta toppled Udinese.

Perhaps most telling was the fact that Edin Dzeko, the club’s single season highest goal-scorer, became more and more isolated as the match went on. As Milan continued their assault, the wing-forwards in manager Paulo Fonseca’s 4-2-3-1 formation were forced to retreat, leaving the Bosnian with little more than the chance of a massive long ball against the run of play. It never came - unlike the first game since the return, where in Roma-Sampdoria, Dzeko scored two highlight reel goals from over the top.

Roma’s recent history belongs to him. But now, as he is 34 years old and counting, the Lupi need him more than ever. In fact, he has scored in 16 different matches thus far - 11 of them led to wins, and only two resulted in defeat. Dzeko’s scoring, as any striker’s, is a by-product of efficient team play, yet on some occasions, such as those two braces against Sampdoria, his class has been needed to turn the tide.

He remains the only Roma player with over 10 goals this season, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Aleksandar Kolarov follow with just six. Unless there will be a breakout for another forward in the Giallorossi ranks, success will teeter on the team’s ability to play fluidly and continue to supply the Bosnian striker. There is one chance looming in the not so distant future, one chance for salvation of the season, and one chance closer than any other to reach next year’s Champions League tournament - the Europa League.

Napoli have made a complete turnaround since hiring coach Genaro Gattuso, and now look to draw level with Roma’s fifth spot in their head to head battle. The Partenopei’s midweek loss against Atalanta will have exposed weaknesses in the boss’ armoured defence, but a Dzeko-less Roma equally struggled as Diego Perotti was sent off, subsequently losing the tie against Udinese.

Having clipped three points off Roma last week, Milan have moved into contention for automatic qualification into next year’s Europa League tournament. The rally for the fifth to seventh places is now the fiercest sub-plot of the Serie A season.

As of now, the format for the Round of 16 will be just one match, played on neutral ground. Sevilla sit comfortably in fourth place of La Liga, yet have relied on Lucas Ocampos throughout the season, with few other players contributing goals. It resulted in four straight draws, preceding their midweek thumping of Leganes. Intentionally or unintentionally reflecting a similar model, Fonseca should have a grasp on out-strategizing the Andalusians.

In just 16 days worth of games, Roma have the possibility to win a highly prestigious competition that will qualify them for the Champions League. It is a massive opportunity to bring the team closer together, at a time when objectives are being realigned. The squad will be put under the continued pressure of a condensed schedule in the late summer heat, yet this tournament provides a backdoor entrance to achieving the season objective. And just maybe, Dzeko will provide a stunner in Cologne to epitomize his career at Roma.

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Have your say...
Should've moved to Inter. Imagine combination play duo between lukaku, lautaro & dzeko. Each with different attributes. But I guess he was too expensive for a 34 year old after all.
I don't get roma's financial crisis. They've always been a selling club but somehow keep running in the red. Is it the salary expense? they should trim down the squad. Get rid all the fringe and injury prone players. Pedro will be bad idea.
I predict under/zaniolo/pellegrini will be the next to sacrifice
on the 4th July, 2020 at 10:18pm
I really hope Fonseca and Palotta lead Roma for a very long time. This has been a great season really, no point in breaking tradition and trying to win something. I'd like to see Kalinic starting a bit more, give the guy a good run in the team, and maybe a real Riommanisti like Bruno Peres captain. Resign Juan Iturbe and bring Taddei back as club mascot.
on the 4th July, 2020 at 7:20pm
Paolo, you're right.
If prime Batistuta played for this Roma (demotivated, unfocused, badly managed...) he'd be constantly criticized for pocketing "higher" salary.

Some Romanisti don't appreciate what they have in AMAZING Dzeko. It's hard to watch one player carry whole team for unthankful fans(--some!) & management(--two years ago they begged Chelsea to take him for 15mil. CRAZY!!!)
I won't even blink if he goes to Inter or Juve next year. We can only be grateful (for that CL run he gave us).
on the 4th July, 2020 at 4:28pm
To be fair, I exaggerated...

Roma will exchange Zaniolo for Rugani --PLUS add Juventus 10mil in cash & a 30% of any future resale of Daniele..!
That's more like it.

They begged Chelsea to take Dzeko for 15 mil 3 years ago, yet were willing to splash over 40 mil for weak & UNPROVEN Schick!

Honestly, I don't understand what's the point of buying only for buying's sake?
Roma moan they are stripped of money & then purchase Carles Peres. What's the point?
Why not pay 50 for Tonali??
on the 4th July, 2020 at 3:55pm
Dzeko is probably the best centre forward roma have had since batistuta is not surprising with a team without totti that they would be dependant on him to score goals.

Roma do themselves no favours by pursuing this transfer policy it is self destructive. You think of the players the club sold for modest sums and what they have achieved, to bring older players with no resale value.

The situation is fixable they have a group of very promising youngsters they just need to stop shopping around.
on the 4th July, 2020 at 2:34pm
3. Fonseca is a great person, never really moans about refs, player injuries or injustices.
Overall he's very positive & respectful: always speaks highly of Roma, Rome, Serie A & Italy...

But I lost faith in him as Roma coach.
His team selections, subs, player managements... are HORRIBLE!
(How can you insist on Cristante, Mancini, Peres?? HOW CAN YOU NOT PLAY UNDER??)
Roma's team is good enough to compete with Lazio --Yet, these teams are 20 points apart. Until season's end, it will be over 30!
on the 4th July, 2020 at 2:03pm
@United States of Totti You don't want to keep Nikola "I score goals for fun, I just don't like to have fun" Kalinic?

I'll take that swap, though. Don't underestimate the invincible Daniele, who never makes a howler out of the clear blue sky or anything.
on the 4th July, 2020 at 1:56pm
2. Edin Dzeko. WHAT A PLAYER!

It's DISGRACEFUL some fans STILL moan about him when, without Edin, Roma would be in bottom part of table.
He misses chances? As if Lukaku, Ronaldo, Ibra don't!
He plays badly? Fine, sub him with any other attacker & you'll see what "bad" really means!!!
"Average" Roma holds him back.
Put good players (Salah) around Dzeko & he scores 30 goals WITHOUT PENALTIES!
He dragged Roma to CL Semis!!!

I'd much rather pay Edin 6 mil than Kalinic, Schick, Pastore each 2 mil.
on the 4th July, 2020 at 1:31pm
1. Roma has no chance of winning EL, they shouldn't even bother to travel.
- United officially called back Smalling, so he's not eligible for European games.
- Roma's leadership (Pallotta, Petrachi...) is in chaos.
- Players are demotivated.

I laughed at Inter & Milan's purchases...
I fully expect Roma to purchase Kalinic for 10 mil this summer & exchange Zaniolo for Rugani:(
on the 4th July, 2020 at 11:58am
Roma are just far too unreliable, and have been for years.

The revolving-door transfer policy doesn't help, and with their huge debts, expect more sales during the next window.

As for the EL, it'd be a big surprise if Roma won it, given their weak defence and habit of self-imploding. That and Serie A's atrocious record in the competition, with no finalist in 21 years, let alone a winner.

The Spanish teams seem to be weakening in recent years, but will still be tough for Roma and Inter
on the 4th July, 2020 at 10:13am

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