Roma enjoyed the short bus ride to Pescara faced with the grim propasition of sentencing Zdenek Zeman’s Delfini to Serie B. It was a task made all the more necessary by Sassuolo’s impressive 2-2 draw with Napoli on Sunday which granted Roma a chance to put some breathing room between themselves and the Neapolitans in the race for second spot.
Bruising to De Rossi’s ankle meant Leo Paredes got the start in a 4-2-3-1 that featured Rudiger at RB and El Sha floating amongst the usual starters.
From the outset, Roma shone a class above Pescara and didn’t waste time putting the ball into the net only to be incorrectly told Salah’s super duper volley was offside.
There is something about this team that is quintessentially psychotic.
In must win situations, Roma seem to defy both physics and statistics to trip themselves over and gift their opponents points. However, when the pressure is off and the season seems cooked, the players always seem to rise above their usual difficulties and display the finer footballing qualities that they’ve always possessed.
Maybe it had something to do with the footage of Monchi touching down at Trigoria, or getting an extra day off by playing on a Monday.
Whatever it was, it was in full effect at the Stadio Adriatico and Roma could very well have been up by six or seven before they made the inevitable real for the poor suffering Pescara fans, in the closing minutes of the first half.
As Roma’s midfield dictated the pace of play, Pescara’s infrequent moments on the ball often resulted in harmless prods to the feet of Manolas or Fazio who in turn recycled the possession for yet another attack.
El Shaarawy put in a terrific shift on the left wing and took full advantage of the hesitant Pescara defence and a wonderful Parades pass over the top. The talented Italian eventually provided Strootman with the most FIFA video game of goals as he squared the ball for the Dutchman to tap in.
The referee didn’t seem to appreciate Kevin exchanging high fives and demanded he hurry up and return behind the halfway line so Pescara could launch a famous Zeman YOLO kick-off. No sooner had he done so, Mo Salah was on his merry way, counterattacking into the vacated Pescara defence where he slipped through a cross to Dzeko. The Bosnian had stopped his run for a cut-back, but still had enough time to rescue the loose ball, turn, pause and then deliver for the onrushing Nainngolan who one timed his shot into the net and killed the match as a contest.
Do you remember when Sulley Muntari was a good player for Mourinho’s Treble winning Inter? Yeah that was a while ago, hey.
It is only fitting that the caveat of Roma’s first half dominance be nuanced with the sheer incompetence of Pescara’s play. They seemed to grant Roma more space than, well, space.
If further proof of this status quo was required, the opening minutes of the second half provided a wonderful example of the gulf of class between the home side and their visitors. Observe and appreciate how wonderful Roma can be at times with this Salah goal in the 48th minute.
From here, the match had nowhere to go but to become as farcical as a training run and it was largely thanks to this intensity that Salah was to double his tally on yet another lethal counterattack to notch the score up to 4-0.
Spalletti brought Jesus on for Emerson in what has got to be some sort of coded message for Arsenal, Juventus or whoever to throw him an offer to coach for them next year. Shortly after he brought off Dzeko much to the annoyance of the Capocannoniere candidate, who apparently had a few sharp words for the bald tactician and refused to sit on the bench.
I guess I should mention Pescara pulled a goal back in the 82nd minute to salute those fans that stuck around for the full time whistle that officially confirmed their removal from the Italian first division.
As the candle of season 2016-17 burns down to the wick, there are plenty of times to point out where Roma stumbled and failed to achieve their own lofty expectations. Tonight was not such an event, but rather a chance to view just how good this side can be when the correct tactics are fitted against the correct opponents with a correct starting line-up.
This display of excellence needs to be built upon when the pressure is ratcheted up next week in the season’s final derby.