12 Apr 2018 – 23:27
MILAN: AS Roma’s inconsistent Serie A form has been made to look all the more exasperating by their rousing win over Barcelona as they showed what they can do when they put their minds to it.
Roma will barely have time to catch their breath after Tuesday’s memorable performance before facing neighbours Lazio on Sunday in a derby that could be pivotal to both teams’ chances of reaching the Champions League next season.
Roma’s supporters will be hoping their side can carry on where they left on in the Champions League quarter-final when they overturned a 4-1 first leg deficit to win 3-0 and qualify on away goals.
They outmuscled Barca as they gave the Catalans a tactical lesson and it was hard to believe that it was the same team which this year has suffered home defeats against Atalanta and Sampdoria and been held by Sassuolo.
Roma’s last six Serie A games have been typical of their ups and downs.
A 2-0 home defeat by Milan was followed by a stunning 4-2 success at the then leaders Napoli and further wins against midtable Torino and Crotone.
But, in typical fashion, then they frustrated their fans and themselves again by being held 1-1 at Bologna and then losing 2-0 at home to Fiorentina.
“I don’t know what to say about our league results; obviously we’re not happy when we drop points at home,” said Roma striker Edin Dzeko after Tuesday’s game.
“We have seven games left to play and they’re all important starting with the derby.
“People often talk about the mentality at Roma but if you don’t have a strong mentality you can’t win games like this one,” he added.
“When we’re favourites we think everything’s easy but it never is. You have to give everything all the time.”
Lazio, the league’s topscorers with 75 goals in 31 games, and Roma are joint third in Serie A on 60 points.
The top four teams qualify for the Champions League group stage but Inter are lurking in fifth on 59 points and visit Atlanta on Saturday.
Roma won the first meeting of the season 2-1, putting the onus on Lazio on Sunday as the head-to-head rule is used if teams finish level on points.
Leaders Juventus, who came desperately close to emulating Roma against Real Madrid in the Champions League before being thwarted by a last-minute penalty and losing 4-3 on aggregate, host Sampdoria on Sunday.
Napoli, who are four points behind in second place, have a difficult trip to sixth-placed AC Milan who are enjoying a revival under Gennaro Gattuso.
(Writing by Brian Homewood in Bern, editing by Pritha Sarkar)