Having lifted the UEFA Conference League trophy in May, Roma now sits outside the European spots at the halfway point of the campaign. Whilst success in the Europa League has set them up with a tie with RB Salzburg, domestic progress has been of concern to Roma fans and there are still issues to be resolved at Stadio Olimpico.
At the beginning of the season, expectations for the squad were good. Looking at odds taken from bestbettingsites.com, they were outside contenders for the title at 12/1. They currently stand at 7th place in the table and the chances of outright success are lower than predicted in the preseason. Below we look at some of the problems to fix for this half of the season.
Goal Scoring Issues
Goals have been the main issue for the capital club this season. Thus far, they’ve notched just 21 goals, the lowest of any side in the top eight. Talisman, Tammy Abraham, has scored just 4 league goals this year, despite averaging 2.3 shots per game. Abraham scored 27 goals in all competitions during the 2021/22 campaign and was heavily relied upon for Roma’s success.
His influence on the side was obvious in the four 1-0 wins last season, all of them with an Abraham winner. Napoli’s Victor Osimhen currently leads the way for the Serie A top goal scorer with 10 goals, but you can still back Abraham to take home the scoring title at 50-1.
Though, perhaps the former Chelsea man will be able to unlock his true ability in the second half of the season given the disappointment of missing out on England’s World Cup squad is behind him.
Paulo Dybala Influence
After helping Argentina lift the World Cup title in Qatar, Paulo Dybala will be heavily relied upon as he was in the first half of the campaign. The Argentinian, who has 5 league goals to his name this season, helped Roma secure several points—in fact, they’d be sitting 12th in the table without his goalscoring exploits.
The Giallorossi’s goalscoring woes were on full display during Dybala’s month-long absence that finally ended just before the World Cup break.
Mourinho’s sides have historically lacked goals, proving defence to be the best form of attack. Though, his side have also suffered from Tammy Abraham’s lack of form. However, the Special One maintained his trust in Abraham and believes that the 25-year-old can reignite the spark to lift Roma up the table.
Another issue facing Roma is consistency. Back-to-back league wins have only come twice this season, with a clear pattern forming that Mourinho’s men are unable to string together a run of results. Roma began the season with three wins and a draw; however, they have failed to maintain any consistent form since.
Following a slow start in the Europa League, it seemed that Roma’s focus moved to qualifying out of the group, which hindered their league progress. On two occasions, a win in the Europa League was followed by a defeat in Serie A, perhaps prompting the question of whether or not the depth of the squad was an issue.
Rumours have sprung of potential January incomings for Roma, with a key particular interest in Real Madrid’s Alvaro Odriozola. The Spaniard has experience in Serie A, appearing 27 times for Fiorentina in 2021/22. Talks are ongoing in a loan-to-buy option, and this would certainly bolster the Roma depth needed if they are to excel in both league and cup competitions.
As well as any potential incomings in January, Roma must also avoid the issue of losing a number of key players in the first month of the year and in the summer.
Stephan El Shaarawy and Chris Smalling are slated to become free agents in the summer, and it looks like it will be a busy second half of the season for Roma’s General Manager, Tiago Pinto.
As Tammy Abraham faces questions over his future, Chris Smalling is another Englishman that could be destined for departure, his future faces uncertainty. Smalling, 33, is out of contract in June and may want to strike a deal before the season is up. Roma are believed to be looking to extend the former Manchester United defender’s contract as they look to find a replacement in the long term.
Despite a lacklustre end to the mid-season break, it’s still not time to panic just yet because there’s still plenty to play for.
Roma have started the new year off with a win over Bologna and a dramatic comeback draw against defending champions Milan. A top four place is still within and they’ll be considered among the favorites for the Europa League ahead of their upcoming playoff against RB Salzburg.