20 Costly Times Roma Have Dropped Points Against Provincial Sides

Corriere della Sera (Luca Valdiserri) You can never be perfect, but learning from experience is the best (perhaps the only) way to improve. Under Rudi Garcia and Luciano Spalletti – while both had excellent points-per-game averages – Roma have never been able to get over the obstacle of failing against the ‘small’ teams.

Roma have lost points against the provincial sides 20 times in the league, not to mention the embarrassment against Spezia in last season’s Coppa Italia, and that is enough to make the difference between winning something at the end of the season and merely ending up in the top few positions. Some people say that it is a long-running affliction, which goes back to the Roma-Lecce game that cost Sven-Goran Eriksson the title, or to Venezia-Roma which killed Fabio Capello’s hopes of winning a second scudetto. Focusing on the last 3 seasons will be less ‘retro’, but will probably be more useful.

Not all games are worth the same, and there’s definitely a distinction to be made between costly mistakes and games which had few implications. In Garcia’s first season came the 0-0 draw at home to Cagliari, the 1-1 in Bergamo and the (uninfluential) defeats at the end of the season against Catania (4-1) and Genoa (1-0). In the French coach’s second season, there came Palermo 1-1 Roma, Roma 1-1 Empoli, Roma 0-0 Parma (when Doumbia made his debut after returning from the African Cup of Nations), Verona 0-0 Roma, Chievo 0-0 Roma, Roma 1-1 Atalanta, and Roma 1-2 Palermo (which had no impact, but on the eve of the game came that press conference that effectively ended the good relationship between Garcia and Pallotta).

Last season, which was split between Garcia and Spalletti, Roma lost points in Verona (1-1 against Hellas), Bologna (2-2), Atalanta at home (0-2) and in Verona again (3-3 against Chievo). Under Spalletti came a 1-1 draw against Hellas in the coach’s first game, 1-1 against Bologna at the Olimpico and the 3-3 comeback, inspired by Totti, in Bergamo.

This season, points have been dropped at Cagliari (where Roma were 2-0 up at the start of the second half) and on Sunday with the 0-0 draw at Empoli. These are missed opportunities for Roma to be closer to Juventus and to put daylight between themselves and the rest of the competition for second place, and with it direct qualification to the Champions League. Spalletti summed the day up like this: “We weren’t hungry enough.” True. But against an Empoli side who had 3 defenders on yellow cards after 35 minutes (Veseli, Bellusci and Pasqual), someone like Perotti could have helped slightly earlier than the 83rd minute.

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