From seeing the starting eleven and the mismatched white shirt and red shorts, this match was looking ugly even before it kicked off. Kevin Strootman was given a rest and so Radja Nainggolan joined Daniele De Rossi & Miralem Pjanić in midfield. Maicon had already joined Balzaretti & Dodo on the injury list but it was found out that Vasilis Torosidis was going to join them as well due to his battle with the flu. That gave Rudi some important decisions to make along the backline and he opted for centreback Alessio Romagnoli on the left and everyone's favourite handyman, Rodrigo Taddei, on the right.
Although his decision was generally forced upon him due to injuries; Garcia's choices raised some eyebrows. How would the duo perform in their first starts of the season? The answer was predictable. Neither Romagnoli nor Taddei have the legs for Garcia's flanks, and the youngster isn't known for his dribbling or crossing while Rodrigo is starting to get to the point where he's a step behind in almost everything he does. Maybe it was because it was against Bologna, the club against whom our biggest victory of the season (5-0) came against that our manager thought we could get away with it. And we did. Our fullbacks weren't that bad as a whole, either, although they did significantly restrict Roma's attack. Taddei cleaned up his messy five foul first half (except for failing to cover the last header of the match, but we survived) and Romagnoli was tidy and mistake free for almost the entire match.
Forced through the Middle
As a result, Roma was forced to move the ball and create through the centre of the pitch. This saw a lot of back passing and possession recycling, forcing De Rossi & Nainggolan to attempt long passes through the middle. Still, Roma found a way through a few times when Destro struck the post and the ball rolled across the goal and when Radja had a great chance but chose all power and no placement in his finish. The result threatened to be heading towards a draw because Bologna was quite happy to sit back and our lack of penetration on the width made it easy for them to defend. It wasn't until the second half when Bologna were forced to attack, that Roma started to have problems defending while still offering little in attack up the flanks. Our midfield had a lot of work to do today, and thankfully they were up for it.
I don't think today was Roma's worst attacking performance, because chances were definitely made but the attack was not clicking today. It didn't help that Alessandro Florenzi injured his foot within the opening ten minutes of the match and it progressively got worse as time went on. Adem Ljajic came on for him around ten minutes into the second half, but contributed about as much as a one legged Florenzi did prior to him.
One of Gervinho's best attributes is the way he lays off the ball before taking off with two, sometimes three defenders with him. In reality it is quite simple, but he has to be tracked and it opens up space for someone else. That's how we got our goal today, when Miralem Pjanic floated in a ball for Radja to tap in. They made it look so easy. Other than that, Gervinho couldn't make anything else work. We could go back to the coin toss analogy if we wanted to. It was clear that it wasn't his day, but Rudi continues to show unconditional love for him.
Destro had a strong performance. He was very involved in play and build up, often dropping deep to start moves. He took on a few players and almost got his goal. Chances were far and few for him, but he is definitely showing signs of improvement with very appearance. Michel Bastos came on for him and while he did not playing that many minutes, did have two opportunities to put the match beyond doubt but failed to come through.
Daniele De Rossi - Daniele started off slowly, having to babysit the entire back four for most of the opening half. He had very few outlets and was forced to play the ball long (11/13 on the day). Eventually the time came where he stepped up and was the true leader everyone sees in him. He led the way with the most passes and tackles (alongside Radja) and most importantly, was there saving the day when things looked to be going south for Roma.
Miralem Pjanić - He only played an hour today but he was magic once again. Created the only goal and without help from the flanks he had to do a lot of the work himself. Sent Destro in twice as well, unfortunately Mattia was offside on both occasions. The tide turned almost completely when he was subbed out of the match, it would have been great to see what he could have done in a full ninety mnutes.
Radja Nainggolan - Radja had a great match. While not perfect with his passing or shooting, he was everywhere and involved throughout the fixture. He made a great run to score his first goal for the club and it ended up being the key goal Roma needed to win all three points today.
Roma still came away with three points, and in the end that is all that matters. Assuming they are fit; all three of Destro, Florenzi & Pjanić avoided picking up a yellow today and will be available for next week's match against Inter. I'd also like to point out that Leandro Castan put in a near flawless performance, where he won many aerial duels and crucial clearances. The performance as a whole was ugly on many fronts, but the result was most important. There are things to consider and work on, but the three points are what matter right now.