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Breaking Down a Breakdown: Manolas Error Leads to Verona Goal

While Vasilis Torosidis shouldered much of the blame, Kostas Manolas was truly culpable for Verona's goal in today's draw. We breakdown this breakdown.

Dino Panato/Getty Images

Vasilis Torosidis struggles in Roma's draw were typified by his inability to contain Bosko Jankovic on Verona's lone goal on the afternoon. However, when you run the goal back and really pick apart all seven seconds of this play, a different culprit appears (Sorry, Vasilis!). Although Rudi Garcia's defense was...umm...chaotic at best, the breakdown on this particular play had nothing to do with Torosidis whatsoever.

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While we can't hide Torosidis' positioning here, it was actually his countryman, Kostas Manolas, who spilled the milk. Perhaps Manolas was wary of Luca Toni sitting behind him, perhaps he mistimed his jump or simply underestimated his neck strength, but whatever the case was, Manolas' poor headed clearance was the root cause of this goal, not Torosidis' positioning at the back post, at least not directly.

Manolas Header

As you can see, as Manolas lands after attempting to clear the ball, there is a huge gap between Alessandro Florenzi and Leandro Castan. Castan then correctly shifted to cover Luca Toni because, well, because he's Luca Toni. As Castan shifts over to cover that space, a new problem arises...

Manolas Header Arrows

The minute Castan moved to cover Toni, Jacopo Sala exploits the newfound space and darts right towards the edge the 18-yard box. As Sala makes this move, Torosidis finds himself in quite a pickle, ostensibly having to cover two men at once; stopping Sala's forward run while attempt to prevent Jankovic's run towards the far post, a situation made more untenable by Daniele De Rossi's slow reaction to the breakdown.

You'll have to forgive the crude graphic work, but as you can see, Torosidis was left in the ultimate you're damned if you do, damned if you don't scenario. Had he peeled off and stuck with Jankovic, Sala would've had a virtual tap in, but since he was forced to keep an eye on both men, he reacted towards the more immediate threat, Sala streaking towards the penalty spot.

Manolas' headed clearance set off a chain of events that ultimately left Torosidis out to dry. Because he was forced to react to Sala, Torosidis wasn't able to track the ball (or Jankovic for that matter), and by the time he realized the run of play was heading towards the back post, it was too late, Emil Halfredsson's ball had already landed on Jankovic's foot.

I once had a baseball coach who said one mental lapse is more destructive than a million physical errors. So, despite this breakdown, I'm hesitant to chastise any one player here, simply because Manolas, Castan and Torosidis all made the correct mental call. Had Manolas attempted to settle the ball or let it run past him and Florenzi, he risked losing the ball to Toni, who would have then had a clear cut scoring chance, so heading it away was the right decision.

Despite this mental not guilty plea, this goal ultimately falls on Manolas' poor physical execution of a headed clearance. Does this make him a shit defender, somehow incapable of playing for a Scudetto contending team? Of course not, but it just goes to show how something as seemingly innocuous as a headed clearance can turn the tide of a match, potentially an entire season, and even a manager's career.

So, Kostas, let's work on those headers this week, whaddya say?