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Porto clash could define Eusebio Di Francesco and Roma's future

23:34 GMT+4 06/03/2019
Eusebio Di Francesco Lazio Roma Serie A
Roma can alter their fortunes this season should they perform in Portugal

Eusebio Di Francesco will be a jittery man when Roma take to the field against Porto, in their second leg round of 16 clash. Losing the Derby Della Capitale never goes down well among the Roma faithful and there have been talks that he could be replaced, should the Lupi exit the Champions League.

Indeed the Giallorossi's season can be described as akin to a roller coaster ride as there have been more ups and downs that one can care to count. Against Porto in the first leg, they let a two-goal advantage slip through sloppy defending and allowing the Portuguese giants to net a precious away goal. It's crystal clear it is such moments that have underpinned Roma's topsy turvy season so far.

Di Francesco has failed to address such lapses and it has cost him time and time again, only this time, he could be out of a job. But to blame the manager alone is myopic and some of the club's stars also must be singled out for their underwhelming displays. Edin Dzeko is central to this issue as the striker on his day can be brilliant but that brilliance can be a rare commodity at times as he has proved this season. Dzeko, at times, seems to lack the hunger and desire to work hard in front of goal and should he carry his form in Portugal, Roma will be in serious trouble.

The return of Kostas Manolas will be a huge boost for Di Francesco's charges as his absence was sorely missed, highlighted by the derby defeat. Teenage sensation Nicolo Zaniolo will be expected to anchor the midfield alongside captain Daniele De Rossi. Above all, after watching Ajax Amsterdam's performance yesterday, this tie is far from over. But for Di Francesco, it could be the game that finally galvanises his team to fire all cylinders and arrest their slump should they win. Lose, and the negative cycle continues although a different figure could be in Roma's dugout.