With a 24 emblazoned on their sleeves, Roma welcomed Torino to the Olimpico with some extra purpose ahead of today’s league match. After visiting Alessandro Florenzi in the hospital, who is recovering from a second surgery to repair his left ACL, the team soldiered on, carrying Florenzi’s spirit on their sleeves, but would that extra incentive translate to an easy match against a tough Torino side?
For the first seven or eight minutes, this was a relatively even match, as Roma simply couldn’t get things percolating, but considering their torrid form, you knew it was only a matter of time before they broke this one open. Rather than toying with Torino for 20 minutes or so, Roma turned to Ol’ Deadeye himself...
Edin Dzeko: 10th Minute
The more he scores, the more dumbfounded I find myself. Was last season an anomaly because he was so piss poor, or will this season’s profligacy prove to be the outlier? Time will tell of course, but he is in a form seldom seen in Roma—29 goals in all competitions already. But let’s skip over to Radja Nainggolan for a second, his side of the boot pass here was phenomenal. Not only did he find Dzeko in space, he split at least two Torino defenders in the process. From there, it was business as usual—Dzeko hit it hard and low, beating Joe Hart with ease and giving Roma the early lead. Just clean and simple execution. Love it.
Things didn’t slow down from there, as Roma doubled their advantage seven minutes later...
Mohamed Salah: 17th Minute
While you can’t see it in its entirety in the video, this goal was the result of a 13 touch buildup, starting with Wojciech Szczesny and ending with Salah. After Kevin Strootman’s lofted ball to Dzeko was turned away, there was Salah at the ready, just pile driving it home with his left foot, beating Joe Hart at the near post. Not exactly how they drew up it, but we’ll chalk this one up to fantastic spacing on the pitch; everyone knew where to be and when, if one cog was out of place, Salah might not have had such an easy crack at goal.
From there, Roma took their foot off the pedal a bit, though Salah was denied a second goal after hitting the woodwork, but a two-nil lead at the break was just what the doctor ordered.
Roma eschewed any fears of second half collapse thanks to everyone’s favorite Argentine wunderkind.
Leandro Paredes: 65th Minute
It seems like nearly every week someone on this club scores a miraculous, goal of the year candidate, and this time, it was Leandro Paredes’ turn to wow us all. Another goal from a rebound, but this one was miles ahead of Salah’s earlier strike. The sheer force and precision with which Lovely Leo struck this one was exceeded only by the trajectory of the ball; he hit it exactly how it had to be hit, any lower and it bounces off the pitch or it's blocked, any higher then it sails away helplessly. To hit a ball so hard, so perfect and to keep it so low is remarkable.
The next twenty minutes or so would play on without incident, but following a Maxi Lopez goal in the 84th minute, Roma would add a fourth for good measure.
Radja Nainggolan: 91st Minute
Another beautiful team goal from Spalletti’s men here. Watch as Salah deftly settles the cross, somehow backheeling it while flying through the air finding Francesco Totti in front of the goal. What happened next was sublime. After shielding the defender, Totti calmly plays the ball into the space at the edge of the 18-yard-box, catching Nainggolan, who was breaking towards the ball, in stride; the perfect confluence of timing and momentum—Totti lead the ball into space, finding Nainggolan at the absolute perfect moment.
Well, what really needs to be said? For the third time in four matches, Roma topped the four goal mark, and were never really in danger of losing this one. And unlike the other two four goal fests, this one required minimal Dzekoing--the play was balanced and even, with Paredes and Nainggolan each scoring from beyond the 18-yard-box.
In the broadest sense, rolling over Torino so easily afforded Spalletti the chance to rest a few key players, in this instance Kostas Manolas and Kevin Strootman were given 15 to 20 minute respites, while Dzeko was given a token sub in stoppage time. Between this and the laugher against Villarreal, Roma has made their life a bit easier over the next couple weeks.
Having a 4-0 aggregate lead, four away goals at that, against Villarreal on Thursday should enable Roma to rest a few more starters ahead of the brutal Inter-Lazio-Napoli troika at the end of February/beginning of March. It’s a two week stretch that will go a long way in determining Roma’s fortunes next season.
But for now, let’s bask in yet another dominant victory from Roma, punctuated by Edin Dzeko’s 29th goal in all competitions. This team is really hitting on all cylinders now and with ample opportunity to weave in some role players over the next week, Roma could emerge an even deeper side.