Earlier this summer we talked about sports cliches, about how, although droll, sometimes they’re just so succinct and so perfect that you can’t help but use them. Well, today’s 2-2 draw with Cagliari was emblematic of another wonderful calcio cliche; the more things change, the more they stay the same.
Luciano Spalletti opted for a few subtle changes this afternoon, swapping out Edin Dzeko for Stephan El Shaarawy and the strikerless leading line, while at the back he went with Alessandro Florenzi and Bruno Peres on the wings.
It was certainly an out and out attacking lineup, but would it work? Well, quite frankly, yes, but offense is seldom this club’s problem. In fact, it only took six minutes for Roma to break this one open, thanks to some shoddy tackling from Cagliari
Goooalll!!! Diego #Perotti with a calm penalty after #ElShaarawy wins the kick for #Roma. 0-1 | #CagliariRoma pic.twitter.com/uEaKTXsrLX— Lega Serie A (@SerieAchannel) August 28, 2016
Diego Perotti, in what is quickly becoming his patented style, knocked it home as cool as you like, putting Roma up 1-0. The remainder of the first half played on without issue, with Cagliari picking up three yellow cards to Roma’s one. With the Giallorossi actually being outshot and outpassed in the first 45, they were lucky to not conceded an equalizer before the half was done.
Heading into the second half, Spalletti opted for a slight tactical shift, replacing El Shaarawy with Edin Dzeko, presumably to shift the point of attack and slow the tempo of the match down a bit. Whether or not that was his true intention was immaterial, as the swap paid immediate dividends.
Goooalllll!! #Strootman doubles #Roma's lead, #Dzeko with a key header coming on as a sub. 0-2 | 47' #CagliariRoma pic.twitter.com/WZphd5aFSe— Lega Serie A (@SerieAchannel) August 28, 2016
Strootman to Mohamed Salah to Dzeko and back to Strootman. It was succinct, effective and brilliantly executed. Full marks to Dzeko for breaking from his man at the exact right moment and heading it back to Strootman in the middle of the six. Definitely one of the more well executed goals we’ve seen since Spalletti came back to town.
At this point in the match, it looked like Roma had their fingers deftly wrapped around Cagliari’s neck. Having withstanded the Rossoblu’s impressive first half onslaught, Roma grabbed a 2-0 lead moments after second half kicked off. But we just wouldn’t be tried and true Roma fans if we felt comfortable with a two goal lead...on the road...on an island; bad things happen in those scenarios and today was no different.
Enter Marco Borriello
Goooalllllll!!!! Marco #Borriello with the rebound, 5th in 4 games against former side Roma. 1-2 | 56' #CagliariRoma pic.twitter.com/Kptcd7YkEl— Lega Serie A (@SerieAchannel) August 28, 2016
Where do we begin? With the swarm of three onrushing defenders who couldn’t close out Marco Sau or with the complete ignorance to Borriellos existence on the far post? This one was horrific from the word go; poor positioning and slow reactions conspired to cut Roma’s lead in half.
At this point, I’ve already run out of steam describing the ways in which Roma’ can disappoint us, so if you’ll allow me to toot my own horn, here’s what I wrote in yesterday’s match preview:
Problem the second, Marco Sau. While he isn’t exactly a household name, Sau has a decent track record in Italy. Throughout his professional career, Sau has amassed over 50 goals across all levels of Italian football, which isn’t threatening in and of itself, but doesn’t he just seem like the type of player who’d score a 92nd minute equalizer against Roma?
Sau proved me wrong by five minutes when he did this:
While it’s hard to even see how much of the ball Sau got there, he certainly did enough to force the issue, and he certainly did enough to split Roma’s defense like a dinner check on a bad date.
And that was really about it, on the balance of the day Roma had more shots and held a greater degree of possession, but as we’re all too familiar, that doesn’t always equate with victory. We cautioned earlier in the week that if Roma had any chance to make things interesting this season, they can’t do shit like this....and, well, here we are.