For a match featuring two teams with European consequences on the line, Roma and Milan came out absolutely flat to start the match. The first ten to fifteen minutes of this critical fixture featured poor tackling, errant passes and nary an attacking move. Despite the lack of fireworks, the crowd at the Meazza was amped; with all the controversy surrounding Roma's curva sud this season, I'd nearly forgotten what it was like to watch a match with an actual atmosphere.
While I wouldn't attribute Roma's relatively flat start solely to the absence of Diego Perotti, his importance to Luciano Spalletti's attack continues to amaze me. Without his #8 in tow, Spalletti shifted formation to a 4-3-1-2 of sorts, head manned by Mohamed Salah and AC Milan-owned Stephan El Shaarawy.
Salah, as he's done so often this season, put his mark on the match without hesitation, blowing by Alessio Romagnoli time and time again on the right flank, leaving the Lazio fan choking on his dust. Given that mismatch, it was quite fitting that Salah victimized Milan on the right flank to score the matches first goal.
Mohamed Salah: 18th Minute
First of all, look how quickly Roma went from defense to attack; simply remarkable. Following Alessandro Florenzi's brilliant interception, Salah intuitively set himself up as an outlet for Florenzi before pinging the ball back to Kevin Strootman then immediately blazing up the right flank, from there it was all magic.
Strootman played an absolutely sensational chip from midfield catching Salah with acres of space allowing him to pick up a full head of steam, barreling straight towards the Milan net. And yes, he probably could have and should have played it over to El Shaarawy for the tap in, but Salah was up to the task, beating Donnarumma on the far post.
Since these were the final 45 minutes of the season, we'll dispense with the blow by blow tactical analysis and just focus on the goals. While Napoli secured second place and Gonzalo Higuain broke Gunner Nordahl's single season scoring record with this 36th goal of the season, Roma contributed to the continual decline of AC Milan, one of the game's most storied franchises.
The virtual dagger in Milan's heart came from one of their own...
Stephan El Shaarawy: 59th Minute
Another goal that started with an absolutely stunning chip, this time from Miralem Pjanic, whose lobbed pass found El Shaarawy inexplicably wide open. From there, the job was rather easy, just chest it down and slot it home. Kudos to SES for not celebrating against his parent club. Hopefully Walter Sabatini stuffed a €13 million check in Milan's mailbox on his way out the door.
While we're all generally pretty happy with Lucas Digne performance this season, the fact remains, the cupboard is relatively bare behind him, so the semi-emergence of Emerson in recent weeks has been somewhat reassuring. We have no idea if either of these guys will be back next season, and in the event Emerson plays elsewhere next season, he exited through the gift shop tonight, scoring his first ever Serie A goal.
Emerson: 82nd Minute
While Totti and Salah provided much of, well all of really, the inspiration on this one, Emerson was Johnny on the spot, punching home Salah's rebound to put the icing on the cake, sealing the victory.
We may not have captured second, but Roma finishes with a 17 match unbeaten streak and the most goals in Serie A— Chiesa Di Totti (@chiesaditotti) May 14, 2016
There it is; that's all you really need to know about the transformation this club has made under Luciano Spalletti. Since Poobah took over the reins on January 17th, Roma has scored a league best 47 goals while amassing 46 points, six shy of Juventus over the same span and eight better than Napoli.
And now the fun/anxiety begins. Can Roma hold onto Radja Nainggolan and Miralem Pjanic while bolstering the squad at the same time?
Stay tuned, this summer is going to be bonkers.