Daniele De Rossi’s second of insanity at Genoa final week opened up an previous wound. Having simply watched Stephan El Shaarawy put his crew a aim up, the Roma captain price his aspect the three factors by stupidly lashing out at Gianluca Lapadula whereas marking the Genoa man at a nook after which attempting to cowl his tracks by taking probably the most ridiculous dive. Within the age of VAR, it is tougher to get away with that type of low cost gamesmanship, and after consulting his video colleagues referee Piero Giacomelli pointed to the spot, from which Lapadula duly struck residence the equaliser.
The sport completed a aim apiece and ended Roma’s Serie A document run of away wins at 12. It additionally left them seven factors behind league leaders Napoli (with a recreation in hand) and off the tempo within the title race, however extra importantly it additionally raised the spectre of an previous Roma behavior — capturing themselves within the foot. A transparent sign that Genoa was a one-off and nothing else must be despatched towards struggling SPAL on Friday.
The two-Zero defeat at Atletico Madrid apart, Roma have not too long ago regarded like a crew rising in confidence and gaining maturity, a crew that’s extra stable than spectacular, however able to conserving its head and grinding out outcomes. De Rossi’s full lack of composure — not for the primary time in his profession, it must be added — threw that burgeoning new id into doubt. If the membership captain throws a wobbly when a aim up towards a crew within the backside three, what are the possibilities of the same flip occurring in harder circumstances? With a visit to Juventus arising within the festive interval, it is a query price asking.
De Rossi apologised after Genoa for his stupidity (“the footage is ugly” certainly) and Roma did not attraction his two-game ban, however that hasn’t taken away the unhealthy style. As stated earlier than, this is not the primary time he has broken the crew together with his behaviour — his position in Roma’s humiliating exit from the Champions League playoff to Porto final season, which price the membership tens of millions of euros, is one other instance — and at 34 years previous you must marvel if he’s ever going to depart this type of behaviour behind.
Regardless of being nicknamed “future captain” for many of his profession, with the immovable Francesco Totti untouchable above him, the variety of video games De Rossi has performed with the armband stretches properly into three figures, so he is aware of the significance of his place. His response to his monumental meltdown towards Porto was to have his finest season in years, and although the heights he reached in his mid-20s are far off within the rearview mirror, he’s nonetheless an world-class midfielder. With Totti frozen out by Luciano Spalletti lengthy earlier than he ultimately retired, De Rossi additionally regarded to have taken on board his place of accountability, properly earlier than the torch was formally handed to him.
Fortunately in Maxime Gonalons, Roma have a worthy substitute prepared to start out towards SPAL after which Chievo whereas De Rossi has an opportunity to make amends in Tuesday evening’s do-or-die Champions League group stage finale with Qarabag. Friday can be the beginning of a pleasant run of fixtures that give Roma the prospect to set themselves up properly earlier than the winter break.
Roma have seven video games between now and the tip of the yr starting with SPAL. After what must be a completed cope with Qarabag, Rome have Chievo away, then middling Cagliari and Torino (within the Coppa Italia) at residence earlier than travelling to Turin for his or her crunch Christmas conflict with Juventus. They then end 2017 with Sassuolo — one other struggling aspect — on the Stadio Olimpico. That is 5 residence video games towards inferior opposition to ensure a spot within the knockout levels and consolidate what has been, disappointment at Genoa however, opening three months to the season.
Earlier than Roma face Juve, Massimiliano Allegri’s aspect additionally journey to Napoli on Friday after which host Luciano Spalletti’s resurgent Inter subsequent Saturday, so Roma ought to have an opportunity to both shut the seven-point hole between them and leaders Napoli or transfer into the automated Champions League areas occupied by Juve and Inter. That is if the weekend’s blip towards Genoa stays simply that.
Terry relies in Rome and is ESPN FC’s AS Roma blogger. Twitter: @T_Daley