The Giallorossi got off to an agressive start, but Crotone's defence stood firm. A lot of Roman possession and midfield battles, but unfortunately no real link between midfield and attack just yet, even though Stroots and Paredes did their best. Clearly, this good old Spalletti-esque 4-2-3-1 was missing a Perrotta. Radja would seem the best fit but he rode the pine after a weak (for his standards) period. Same for Perotti. De Rossi was also left on the bench, so quite some big names were ignored by TGIP.
Back to the match: Palladino was the most dangerous man for Crotone, and caused some panic on Roma's right flank. Before the half hour mark, El Shaaraway scored a great goal after a smart Florenzi backpass. Roma was dominating, Crotone didn't really put up a fight, apart from a tricky shot from Palladino that went inches from the right post. It was the best chance for the Sharks until then.
Time to time there were still some defensive brainfarts from Roma's defence but Crotone's attack was as good as non-existing. Roma deservedly went 2-0 up before the half-time whistle thanks to a nice Salah finish. Nothing the Crotone goalkeeper could do about it. Curiously, he was the second Egyptian that scored tonight. Maybe they should just cancel Roma Roma Roma and play Walk like an Egyptian from The Bangles each game?
Every time Roma accelerated, they hurted Crotone. The speed and pace from SES, Florenzi, Salah and Peres made the difference. Totti almost got a tap-in and both Dzeko and SES missed good chances. Cruise control to a win it seems. But would Roma shoot themselves in the foot again (read: play Emerson) or actually hold on to this advantage? We witnessed it too many times before. But our fear didn't last long...
Barely two minutes into the second half and the crowd was blessed with some magic from His Holiness, Totti. A superb one time pass to Edin and a nice lob from the Bosnian to make it 3-0. Roma in a luxury position now. Moments later, counter from Roma: A lightning quick Salah passed to Dzeko who was in the right place at the right time, boom, 4-0. Although it must be said: that was some pretty bad defending from Crotone's side but a great goal nonetheless. It was Dzeko's fourth goal in five Serie A games. Yes, this is an entirely different beast from last season.
Crotone got a penalty around the hour mark but it didn't spoil our fun. Even better, Woj saved it! God damn, it felt ages ago since I last saw a penalty being stopped by a Roman goalkeeper (FIFA games not included) It also gave the players wings as one chance followed another, Salah and Totti were mostly involved. The interaction between the two (and Dzeko and SES as well) was a lovely sight.
One of the Egyptian pillars, Salah, had to come off for Iturbe, as the win now looked dead certain, with only 25 minutes to play. Roma then took it easy and controlled the game. Manolas earned some extra rest, no worries though as Fazio was having a good game at the back. The second 4-0 win of the season (and in the space of one month) edged closer. A dangerous Crotone header that almost erased our clean sheet, a sexy wet Totti shirt and Iturbe grabbing his painful nuts were the only other notable moments.
In the end, Roma produced some great free-flowing football in the Olimpico but let's not forget who the opponents were this evening. With all due respect to Crotone, this was THE definition of a must-win. At home against the league's most inferior opponent. We expected goals, they gave us goals. We shouldn't be blind for Roma's shortcomings all of a sudden.
Yet, I can't help but feel optimistic for the future once again. Napoli and Fiorentina losed valuable points which makes the night even more festive. Kudos to the team and Spal, as today no one of Nainggolan, Vermaelen, Rüdiger, De Rossi or Perotti played but we still fought hard for the points and it could have been a bigger score too.
Luciano gambled with his formation and tactical changes but it turned out to be a succes. What a coincidence. Perhaps it had something to do with this Totti fellow?