Some games are painful to watch. You know the ones, where the magic just doesn’t seem to be in the air. The passes never quite click together, the players have that frustrated look like a man with an IKEA flat pack and an allen key.
Ragazzi, this was one of those games.
Lets forget about where Sampdoria sit on the table. They are at best a mediocre side who is well organised at the back. Whilst they didn’t offer too many attacking threats in general play, the Roman hangover from the Bavarian catastrophe was plain for all to see. To make matters worse, the field was potholed from the recent flooding that has recently cursed the Genova region, making attractive football exceedingly difficult.
The team laboured in the attacking third and never quite managed to boss Sampdoria into submission. I trust you all watched El Classico beforehand? Yeah, that wasn’t a good idea, was it?
This match was completely lacking in fluent possession as both sides struggled to string enough passes together to build up a head of steam. Come to think of it, this whole match was like trying to work with a hangover. We knew that we should be performing better but just couldn’t shake off that irritable headache and sense of fatigue from three hours too little sleep. Sure Stefano Okaka and Alessio Romagnoli were playing for Samp so that should have made things a touch more exciting, right? Maybe Roma shouldn’t have eaten that late night piece of pizza or lamb kebab with garlic sauce.
Both Holebas and Vasilis Torosidis started in the full back positions and were not able to provide sharp off the ball movements that Maicon and Ashley Cole bring when at their best. This may have had something to do with Alessandro Florenzi sitting in midfield, which forced DDR to up his defensive work rate in order to cover Ale’s back. Either way, the end result was a lack of an offensive threat on the overlap.
Roma’s attack was more or less reliant on Francesco Totti dropping deep and feeding Gervinho through balls. Ladies and gentlemen, when you are relying solely on Gervinho to convert tough chances after beating at least three defenders… Well let’s just say you’ve got a better chance making money betting on American College Basketball.
Sure enough the best chance of the first half fell to Gervinho around the half hour mark. After being fed a killer ball from inside Roma’s half, the Ivorian took one touch too many resulting in his shot being blocked and on the follow up he could only manage to drive it into the left hand post.
Not long after this he sprayed a shot from a tight angle past Romero’s hands and across the face of goal.
The Florenzi in midfield experiment was, at best, an abject failure. Don’t get me wrong, Ale is a fantastic player when bearing down on goal, but just doesn’t possess the creativity or composure on the ball to fulfil this role.
The second half started with a bit more spark as both sides moved the ball with a sense of urgency but still lacked the quality of delivery in the final third. And Gervinho kept up his ‘shots on goal’ tally with erratic efforts.
Gabbiadini, easily Sampdoria’s most potent attacking player, had the ball in the net in the 52nd minute, which was correctly ruled out for offside. Not long after, Astori fired a header from a corner straight into the keeper’s hands.
The most symbolic moment of the match came from a free kick conceded by a clumsy Holebas sliding challenge that earned the Greek defender a silly yellow card deep in the Roma half, up tight against the sideline. Gabbiadini whipped the ball in, illuding all the Roma defenders and a flapping Morgan De Sanctis, where Okaka met it with his right boot on the volley.
You can take the boy out of Roma but turns out you can’t take the Roma out of the boy! From what appeared to be point-blank range, Okaka’s miscontrolled shot ballooned over the top of the bar, granting Roma a most undeserved lifeline. I don’t know about you guys, but I genuinely felt sorry for the guy. I mean, how often does that sort of thing happen? Never mind against your old club.
With that said, the Roma defence led by Astori and MB managed to neutralise most of Sampdoria’s attacking threats but seriously struggled during set pieces. This can be a bit of an issue when MB’s go to move is to launch absurd karate kicks at 50/50 balls when his opponent has their back to him (see image above). Oh Castan, where for art thou?
Rudi finally sent on Miralem Pjanic for his 100th Serie A appearance at the expense of the ineffectual Adem Ljajic, which resulted in Florenzi pushing forward into his more familiar right wing spot.
Totti made way for Mattia Destro in the 77th which nearly paid immediate dividends from a quick counter involving Florenzi and Pjanic. Sadly Mr Right’s shot was blocked.
And then the Sampdoria keeper, Romero spat in all of our eyes. Yes, the back-up keeper. This seemed eerily familiar to era’s where Roma struggled only to see the opposition’s keeper make Neuer-esque saves. Romero had to pull out what is probably the save of the week from a close range Florenzi header just to make this match all the more unbearable.
Would it have been 2 points stolen? Perhaps, but hey, that’s what winners are meant to do. As it was we had to settle for a couple of minutes of Iturbe sprinting backwards and forwards once he was subbed on for Florenzi. Despite having a dominant 65% possession, we just weren’t able to manufacture enough clear cut chances.
0-0, Nil all, a point a-piece. Just what the doctor didn’t want to order.
Its worth running your eye through the number of Roma players missing – Keita, Castan, Strootman, Manolas and Maicon – but still, Roma had more than enough firepower on the field to handle a side like Sampdoria.
The Bayern Munich demons will take a while to be exorcised and both the coach and players need to sort out the kinks to have us back playing like a winning team who excites neutrals and fans alike.
We don’t want to be trying to build a chest of IKEA drawers next week at home against Cesena. Go out and treat yourself to a greasy fried breakfast, Romanistasses. And then go to bed and get some rest. This hangover needs to be conquered.