Roma stroll past Spezia to increase top four hopes

Tuesday, Jan 24, 2023

MILAN: Roma pounced after Juventus were slapped with a massive points deduction by seeing off Spezia 2-0 on Sunday and provisionally moving into Serie A’s Champions League positions.

Jose Mourinho’s team are set to go fourth in Italy’s top flight thanks to goals in each half from Stephan El Shaarawy and Tammy Abraham and the Italian Football Federation’s (FIGC) decision to dock Juve 15 points on Friday.

Juve are still officially third as their punishment isn’t yet represented in the league table but as long as Atalanta, who started the day level with Roma, don’t win at the Allianz Stadium in Turin later, the capital club will be in the top four come the end of the day.

Roma are level on 37 points with Inter who host Empoli on Monday and just one behind second-placed AC Milan ahead of the champions’ trip on Tuesday to Rome to take on Lazio, the other team who can move above Roma into the top four.

The away side came away with the three points despite the absence of Italy international Nicolo Zaniolo, who refused to be picked in the matchday squad and was openly criticised by the club’s general manager Tiago Pinto pre-match.

Pinto said of Zaniolo that “personal interests have been put ahead of the collective good” with over a week remaining in the winter transfer window, adding that “it’s not the first time this has happened”.

Mourinho then confirmed that the 23-year-old is looking for a way out of the club but isn’t convinced the Italy international will succeed. “My feeling is that come February 1 he will still be here,” Mourinho told DAZN.

“He wants to leave but that doesn’t mean he will. The offers currently on the table aren’t worthy of either him or the club. There’s not really anything out there for him.” Zaniolo was key to Roma’s Conference League triumph last season but wants to leave after a poor campaign in the Eternal City in which he has been overshadowed by Paulo Dybala as the clear star of Mourinho’s team.