Eusebio Di Francesco once again tinkered with his lineup as his son and the rest of Bologna stormed into the Olimpico this evening. Gone were Diego Perotti and, for the first time all year, Aleksandar Kolarov, replaced by Gregoire Defrel and Bruno Peres, respectively. Yes, not only did Peres start, but he started out of position.
I know what you’re thinking, EDF must have gotten into the absinthe before the match, right? And for awhile, it looked like his experimentation would bite Roma in the ass, as the Giallorossi defense was stretched thin several times in the first half, with Federico Di Francesco nearly getting back at dad for that time he was grounded for drinking.
Through the first half hour or so of the match, it was the same plodding preamble we’ve seen many times with this club; playing down to the level of their opponent, missing chances and getting exposed at the back. It had all the makings of another let down, but as he’s done so many times this year, Brazilian Don Draper was at the ready.
Alisson Save: 32nd Minute
Wowzers. Alisson nearly ripped his shoulder of of the socket parrying this ball away with his left hand. This was a goal every day of the week and twice on Sunday, but Alisson rose to the occasion. You simply can’t say enough about this kid, he’s remarkable.
Speaking of remarkable, Roma wouldn’t have to wait very long for their next moment of brilliance, thanks to the little pharaoh himself.
Stephan El Shaarawy: 33rd Minute
I mean, what can you say about that goal? It was the complete antithesis of everything Roma achieved the prior 32 minutes. It was cold, clinical and stupendous. Not only did El Shaarawy track the rather looping, outswing cross from the corner—a subtle fact that we can’t overlook, that ball could have drifted, he could have been picked off; any number of things—but he didn’t let the stumbling backwards Gregoire Defrel distract him. Then, holy mother of god, SES somehow lashed this one into the upper corner of the far post with his left foot.
It was a stunner for sure. Roma would threaten a couple more times as the first half waned, but the score remained 1-0 heading into the half.
Usually, we jump right into the second half action, but this couldn’t go unnoticed or unsaid...
Are you watching this half time camera? Destro is giving Skorupski hair tips— Chiesa di Totti (@chiesaditotti) October 28, 2017
Destro literally had his hands in Skorupski’s hair. It was glorious. I wonder what he said.
But yeah, once the second half kicked off, El Shaarawy nearly doubled the lead, charging down the left hand flank before pushing the ball just past the post. Moments later, he drew a foul on Bologna. SES is a streak player for sure, but when he’s on, he’s a sight to behold.
El Shaarawy nearly grabbed another one (again), but it was Edin Dzeko who would draw second blood, or so we thought. Dzeko bodied off the Bologna defender before turning and slotting one home in the area, only to have his goal called off by the ref.
You be the judge...
No ha subido el segundo de la Roma. Consideraron fuera de juego de Dzeko. Independientemente, facilidad para recibir y finalizar en área pic.twitter.com/m2h6tqfjQO— Montse García Bea (@montse_garcia) October 28, 2017
If Dzeko was offsides, it must have been by a neutrino or a quark or something, because I’m not seeing much in that still frame. It’s a shame, too, because it was a lovely exhibition of skill and strength from Dzeko.
Roma would soldier on, subbing off the always ineffective Defrel (out of position again, to be fair) for Diego Perotti at the hour mark. Why EDF insists on running Dzeko into the ground when he has a perfectly capable center forward in Defrel behind him is a mystery to me, but he’s doing Defrel a great disservice and putting unnecessary minutes on Dzeko’s legs ahead of the Chelsea match next week.
Dzeko nearly scored ten minutes or so later, chasing down an errant shot from Lorenzo Pellegrini, but he was effectively shielded from the ball by the Bologna defense. Too bad for Dzeko, who really came on in the second half.
Roma would lose yet another full back when Bruno Peres limped off around the 70th minute with a thigh injury, we think. Maybe there’s some sort of ACL in there that he also tore; it’d be a medical breakthrough, but anything is possible with this club’s fitness regimen.
The remainder of the match played on without issue, there were a few fouls, a few chances but not much else. Gerson got a cameo when he came on for El Shaarawy while Mattia Destro made his return to a mix of cheers and jeers.
While the scoreline may look similar, this 1-0 victory was a tad different from their prior two matches, both of which finished with similar scorelines. This wasn’t necessarily an ugly win, Roma ripped off 15 shots and created roughly a dozen scoring chances, but they just weren’t clinical enough in the 18-yard-box. This could have easily have been a two or three-nil victory were it not for a few misplaced shots by El Shaarawy and Dzeko.
Roma received class performances from El Shaarawy—who was very nearly Roma’s entire offense—and Lorenzo Pellegrini, who created an impressive five scoring chances and attempted two shots, while Florenzi, Federico Fazio and Alisson were steady at the back.
It wasn’t all positives, though. Given his €23 million price tag, EDFs insistence at playing Gregoire Defrel out of position continues to defy conventions and simple common sense. The man is a center forward, plain and simple, one who scored a dozen goals last year. He’s not a world beater, but as far as second choices go, he’s the best Roma’s had in ages, yet he’s continually rolled out as a winger, while Edin Dzeko continues to log heavy minutes, ones that may catch up with him—don’t forget, Roma has a match with Chelsea on Halloween to contend with.
But we’re really splitting hairs here, Roma have taken an impressive 24 points through their first ten league matches, good enough for fifth, and they still have that oh so precious game in hand over their competitors.
Things won’t get any easier as October gives way to November. Besides that Chelsea fixture on Tuesday, Roma has to contend with Fiorentina, Lazio and Atletico in the next three weeks. So getting guys rest and keeping all their ligaments intact is paramount.
Until Tuesday, TTFN.