Roma, with entry to the group stages of the Champions League and tens of millions of dollars at stake, came out and delighted us all with a quintessentially Roma performance. Missed shots, poor passes, late tackles,horrific goalkeeping, red cards; this match had it all. While Roma dictated the pace of play for, oh the first fifteen minutes, Porto effectively bottled the Giallorossi’s vaunted attack from start to finish, swarming any attacker that dared enter the area, a task made much easier with a two man advantage.
Honestly, this was one of the worst and most infuriating Roma matches I’ve ever witnessed during my tenure here, 7-1 thrashings notwithstanding. Making matters worse, Roma, outside of a Radja Nainggolan rocket, a Mohamed Salah shot from the are and an inexplicable missed tap in from Diego Perotti, never threatened Iker Casillas and the Porto defense; they’re were as ineffective as the darkest days under Rudi Garcia, minus the French joie de vivre.
A tactical breakdown of this match is about as useful as a screen door on a submarine, or Juan Jesus on a football pitch, so let’s just take a look at the goal that broke Roma’s back and will probably lead to the eventual sale of Leandro Paredes and/or Kostas Manolas.
First things first, give credit to Porto there, that was a lovely ball, but Felipe was completely and utterly unmarked, slipping into the cavernous space in between Kevin Strootman and Juan “I’m Just Happy to Be here” Jesus. Inexcusable defending in any context, let alone a match as important as this one.
The second half shit show was just as glorious as the first, as Emerson matched Daniele De Rossi red-card-for-red-card, getting sent off in the 50th minute, some ten minutes of match time after De Rossi’s—yes, Roma earned two straight reds in less than 15 minutes.
Despite going down to nine men, Perotti, Nainggolan, Salah and Strootman soldiered on, desperately trying to grab an equalizer for Roma, but it simply wasn’t meant to be as our old pal Wojciech Szczesny choked it away for good as he attempted to channel his inner Manuel Neuer.
It’d be comical if it weren’t so aggravating. I understand the desire to have a veteran keeper to support Alisson, but why him? And I know I’ve said nice...well, neutral...things about him before, but he truly offers nothing that will put Roma over the top. He’s the Sarah Plain and Tall of the goalkeeping world. (For you kids, that’s a children’s book reference from the 1980s, and books are bound works of literature made from dead trees).
There’s really nothing else of note we can bring to this match, we’ve seen this movie a million times by now. Roma wilting on the biggest stage like a wallflower at the prom, but we’ll leave you with this:
Fact: Roma have had more men sent off than goals scored in this playoff, 3:0— Chiesa Di Totti (@chiesaditotti) August 23, 2016