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Bologna 3 - Roma 3: Because Who Needs Defense

Gabriele Maltinti

There is a problem in Rome, even when it's in Bologna. Week-in, week-out, there is a major hole on this club. Same ish, different day.

The midfield is nonexistent.

Daniele De Rossi: Without the tattoos, wouldn't even recognize him.

Panagiotis Tachtsidis: Cookie dough still in the package looks at him and says, "Wow, now that's raw." Potential and playing well more often than not, but he's not starting in the top 8-ish for any club but Roma. Something which could be applied to both Bradley and Florenzi as well.

Miralem Pjanic: Far more suited to the wings under Zeman, which hasn't been an issue of late, but ideally, one would like both he and Erik Lamela on the pitch (and performing up to snuff) at the same time.

Michael Bradley: The only one who does on a regular basis what Zeman wants, but clearly lacking in the requisite quality for Roma's aspirations, and often a tactical mystery. Has merely replaced non-2008-09 Matteo Brighi.

Alessandro Florenzi: Totally hit or miss. Scintillating in the early six-ish weeks, improving as of late, but he's not been consistent enough to merit "undisputed starter" save for the fact that he's been Roma's best midfielder simply by default.

Marquinho: He's been okay, hardly a world beater, and done nothing on the pitch to demands he supplant anyone else. Plus he's kind of pissy.

Simone Perrotta: Something here about only breaking out the fine china for special occasions because it can't handle the everyday workload.

But worse, no combination of the above works with any amount of consistency. The ball is too often pushed out wide and the focus on the rise of Piris and fall of Balzaretti should perhaps shine less on them as individuals and more on the fact that Roma has made them their prime mechanisms of attack far too early in the movements, and inevitably culminating in either a low-opportunity cross, Erik Lamela attempting to cut-in, or some requisite magic from Totti. Yes, the flanks are supposed to be well-worn under Zemanlandia, but they need to begin quickly moving the ball through the midfield before the opposition can get set, instead of losing the ball and having the matches become a never-ending rollercoaster and thus nightmare for the defense and goalkeeper.

Over time, it's seemed more a matter of personnel than tactics. The two who remain miles ahead of the other midfielders irrespective of the system, DDR and Pjanic, are closer to square pegs in this system, which demands parallelograms, triangles, and something slightly resembling an ellipsoid having a seizure. At the end of the day is this: some of these players simply aren't good enough to be playing for Roma - at least as much as they do - at current, and that's what happens when you slash payroll and have the one superstar critically underperforming. The midfield needs a major fixing, either in the summer or sooner.

Teams in Serie A have a penchant for eschewing youth and going with veterans for a damn good reason: it works. That's not how Zeman's system was designed, but no one should be surprised when it's exploited as the pieces are greater neither as individuals, be it for reasons of lacking quality or youth, nor as a whole. And that's how you draw 5 points from the last 18.

Wonder if Luis Enrique's willing to come back as the man behind The Man...


  • Marquinhos can name his price any day now. It is frightening how much not his name, but his positioning - at eighteen - means to this club. He intercepts the third goal without a hint of doubt.

    Europe would be a dream without him.
  • Michael Bradley's second half was his best in a Roma shirt; played smart, energetic, and yet still restrained, slowing down the Bologna backlash with slightly delayed runs. He simply needs an electric dog collar which zaps him when he tries to enter the final third.
  • The goalkeeper debate is easy: it's neither at the moment. Each has different strengths and weaknesses, and as Blogistuta so perfectly put it: "Given the way in which Roma plays, what Goicoechea is good at is more likely to save Roma than what Stekelenburg is good at."

    That doesn't mean it will happen 100% of the time, but given how quickly Roma's defense is going to get caught out, I want Mauro in there. If a team is going to start putting in crosses, which makes Goicoechea seem as though he has all the cool of a fifteen year-old boy at the Playboy Mansion, then it's Maarten 117% of the time. This debate see-saws dependent on the desired attribute being discussed.

    So either neither, or petition the FIGC for it to be both. Much as is always the case with Roma: it's neither as bad nor as good as it's portrayed.
  • Free headers for Osvaldo.

    Roma is very lucky for the woodwork's shift late in the match, but that second goal was an incredible gift. Three Bologna shirts within touching distance, and no one bothered to go for the ball.
  • This may make me a horrible person, but I wasn't terribly upset to see Balzaretti need a sub and perhaps a week or two off. There's no hiding what skills Dodo does and doesn't hold, but Federico is a seashell inside a seashell of his former self at this point.
  • Torosidis offered no insight but that he's a guy who can throw in a decent cross when given pastures of green. As can everyone else. Jury's out.
  • The refereeing was woeful. That was a clear penalty on Pjanic early in the first half, and blowing the whistle for the half while Roma is in the opposition's box is something one never sees done.
  • It'll be interesting to see what happens with Erik when he returns. It's plain as djay Miralem has been the better option at RW in 2013, and Erik's never been a ninety-minute monster this year - he's simply garnered the glory for his goalscoring.
  • Diamanti's a bit of an unnecessary dream transfer. Don't even need the whole thing - just detach his left leg and put it on a serviceable body.