There's no better way to respond to a (relatively) disappointing week than with a resounding win. Coppa Italia hopes were dashed with the loss to Napoli & some foreheads were wrinkled with the less than desired draw with Lazio last weekend. With the Curva bans in full effect for the first of two home fixtures, the Stadio Olimpico had a slightly different atmosphere than usual. Yet, Roma's dominating home form continued with a confident and comfortable 3-0 win over Sampdoria.
Bren has already done a wonderful job in summarizing the match, so I'll make it quick and jump right into some of the things I noticed. First off, it was a tiny bit alarming to see Daniele De Rossi not starting after already knowing that Francesco Totti was going to be missing. New look Mehdi "'stacheless" Benatia was given the armband. Vice-Captain Dani joined Adem Ljajić on the bench in an otherwise expected starting eleven.
Siniša Mihajlović stated that Sampdoria would come out and play, and take the match to Roma. In other words; they would not sit back. This was good for Roma, and they did well to create a number of scoring chances in the first half. With the help of Sampdoria making some silly mistakes, as well as cutting through their defence - primarily through the play of Miralem Pjanić - it was surprising that the match was still deadlocked at zero approaching halftime. The number of clear and near misses made it feel as if Roma were in for another long night of painful struggles in front of goal.
The goals did come today, ending a short but worrying drought. The first was from an excellent corner taken by Alessandro Florenzi, and a perfectly placed header by Destro. The duo teamed up again, along with Gervinho, on Destro's second goal; through a combination of one touch, backheel, short pass and quick turn. It was a great move between the attacking trio, and they further squashed opinions that they can't play well together. All three had created Gervinho's winning goal in the first leg of the Coppa Italia semifinal in a similar fashion. Although still quite inconsistent, Florenzi is turning in important performances at the right time and deserves some praise.
All in all, it was a wonderful team effort in the win. The only downside would be the injuries to Maicon & Benatia, both having to be substituted. We can only hope that they are not serious and that they'll be ready for next weekend. If a player had to be singled out for a lacklustre performance today, it would have been Maicon. Perhaps he was fighting with the injury all along, but he never really got going; in part due to Sampdoria forcing everything to go up and down the other side of the pitch, but as well as Maicon not being as involved and dominant. Alessio Romagnoli was given his debut of the season at leftback when Maicon had to be taken off, and he performed well enough. He didn't have to do much, but he performed when he needed to - whether it was making simple passes or defending on the few occasions he was called upon.
Miralem Pjanić - It's safe to say he's back to his imposing self after battling with fitness issues in recent weeks. He controlled the match throughout with his ball control and vision. He led the match in touches, passes, passing accuracy (not including substitutes) and dribbles. He had five successful dribbles on the evening, and that's on par with the best in Europe. His killer free-kick was the icing on top of a fantastic performance.
Mattia Destro - He's frustrated some with his finishing lately and others with his grumpiness when things don't go his way. It looked like things were going to continue that way when he was offside but still kicked the ball directly at Da Costa. He came agonizingly close three more times before heading in the opening goal. Mattia has six goals in Serie A, already the club's top scorer after resuming play in December. He has 9 Serie A appearances this season and has yet to play a full 90, averaging a fabulous goal every 76 minutes. Can you believe that he's still not in top shape?