Week 9: Roma – Milan

Pioli’s debut started promisingly with a solid first half vs Lecce at home. The team showed more intensity and Leao in particular came close using skill and pace. The defacto 4-3-3 remained but Calhanoglu played with more mobility and freedom and was more lively. The team was more active, created more offensively and for some minutes it was a shooting festival on Lecce’s goal. The goal finally came. Calhanoglu surprised many with a hard shot and goal from a tight angle. The second half was less impressive and a half unlucky half poor Conti hand ball was given as a penalty after a dreaded VAR review. The penalty was saved but Khouma Babacar shot the rebound in. Pioli did the predictable instead of the brave by replacing Leao with Piatek. The Polish strike did finally score from open play assisted by none other than Calhanoglu. The team failed to keep the lead and several errors and missed passes on the right side opened the door for a highlight type goal by Lecce’s Marco Calderoni.

The 2-2 tie was disappointing and in the aftermath of the match the #SusoOut hashtag was trending around the globe. For a few days it seemed that Pioli might contemplate dropping the Spanish winger and perhaps play with both Leao and Piatek up front. Later in the week the hopeful signs had already dissipated and Suso looks to remain central to the coach’s plans. Calabria returns after serving a suspension and so the back line is returning to it’s now regular four with Musacchio, Romagnoli and Hernandez. Further up the pitch Biglia’s start vs Lecce was not a disaster by any means and he may retain his spot despite of calls for Bennacer’s return to the starting line up. Paqueta and Kessie will likely retain their spots as well. Up front Suso is pretty much sacred and Calhanoglu’s week 8 form will earn him another start. Will Pioli hand back Piatek’s starting spot or stick with Leao? That is likely the only question heading to Roma.

Roma are battling an injury crisis with all of Cristante, Zappacosta, Diawara, Pellegrini, Kalinic and Mkhitaryan out.

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