clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Tactical Breakdown: Chievo Verona v A.S. Roma

A look at Roma’s wild weekend in Verona

AC ChievoVerona v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Dino Panato/Getty Images

A.S. Roma took one step closer toward Champions League qualification with a 5-3 victory over Chievo. Despite initial struggles, good fortune in conjunction with some clever management by Luciano Spalletti enabled Roma to fend off their pesky opposition.

1st half


Chievo 4-3-1-2 Sorrentino//Cacciatore, Gamberini, Cesar, Gobbi//Depaoli, Radovanovic, Bastien//Castro//Birsa, Inglese

Roma: 4-3-3 Szczesny//Rudiger, Manolas, Fazio, Emerson//Paredes, De Rossi, Strootman //Salah, Dzeko, El Shaarawy

Opening 15 Minutes:

In his pre-game press conference, Luciano Spalletti noted Chievo; “have a very clear identity and they pursue that through a brand of football which combines pace with great quality.” The manager’s statement suggested he understood the importance of the transition phase in this particular matchup, however, Roma struggled to cope with Chievo’s game plan. Rolando Maran’s side employed a 4-1-3-2 in attack. Chievo’s full-backs and inside midfielders provided width and depth, thus only Radovanovic, Gamberini, and Cesar consistently remained in Chievo’s half:

Despite having seven players participate in counters at times, the home side utilized fake pressing to decelerate Roma’s transitions, pushing the giallorossi toward the touchline. Roma then had to create overloads to achieve forward progress (1 & 2). Since Kevin Strootman and Mohamed Salah occupied the middle third, Edin Dzeko and Stephan El Shaarawy were outnumbered in the attacking third (3):

Even in situations wherein a gap between Bastien and Gobbi appeared, Strootman’s role in buildup play resulted in numerical inferiority in and around Chievo’s penalty area:

Gamberini makes a last-ditch tackle to prevent a shot on goal.

Spalletti was bested by Maran from an offensive standpoint as well. The gialloblu continually worked the ball from the wings to central areas. Their willingness to send men forward in support of Inglese and Birsa caused three major problems in the defensive phase. Firstly, Rudiger, Paredes, and Strootman’s defensive assignments took them toward the ball and away from goal. Secondly, the presence of two forwards made it such that Daniele De Rossi shielded Kostas Manolas and Federico Fazio as opposed to supporting Emerson by monitoring Depaoli’s forays into the box. Lastly, Depaoli’s runs prevented Emerson from defending the flank, affording Cacciatore too much time and space on the overlap. Each of these factors left Manolas and Fazio to fend for themselves on crosses, and allowed Chievo to take an early lead:

1. De Rossi aiding his center-backs. 2. Emerson tracking Depaoli opened up space for Cacciatore to run into.
1. 2-v-2 in the middle of Roma’s box.


Chievo altered their defensive system after taking the lead, dropping into 4-3-2-1 mid/low-block. Abandoning the false press diminished the space behind Bastien, but benefitted Roma’s attack insofar as Strootman could now function as a central attacking midfielder. Roma still preferred to initiate transitions through Salah who only needed the support of Antonio Rudiger and De Rossi. The Egyptian frequently cut inside to pick out Leandro Paredes or Strootman, leading to some promising attacks:


After El Shaarawy’s (fortunate) equalizer, the transition play of each team characterised proceedings once more. Unfortunately, Spalletti did not remedy his squad’s defensive deficiencies by this point, and Chievo’s second goal was attributable to another 2-v-2 in the giallorossi’s 18-yard box:

Sorrentino tends to distribute the ball to his central midfielders. Given that the Flying donkey’s lined up in a 4-4-2 on goal kicks, they obtained numerical superiority in the center of the pitch. Nevertheless, their strategy backfired in the 41st minute. Strootman scrapped to recover the ball despite Chievo’s numerical advantage, sending it to Salah whose ability to maintain control at pace allowed him to cut-back onto his left foot before beating Sorrentino at the far post:

2nd half


Chievo 4-1-3-2 (or 4-4-2 diamond) Sorrentino//Cacciatore, Gamberini, Cesar, Gobbi//Radovanovic//Depaoli, Birsa, Bastien//Inglese, Pellissier

Roma: 4-3-3 Szczesny//Rudiger, Manolas, Fazio, Emerson//Strootman, De Rossi, Paredes, //Salah, Dzeko, El Shaarawy


Roma were more patient in possession than they were in the opening stanza while Chievo deployed a 4-4-2 mid/low-block in hopes of stifling Roma’s attack and catching them on the counter. As such, Strootman had to offer an outlet during the buildup:

1. Bastien closed Rudiger down quickly as Radovanovic and Gobbi supported him, stopping successful overloads as well as 1-v-1’s between Salah and the full-back. 2. Birsa and Depaoli outnumber Paredes. 3. Dzeko’s engagement in a 1-v-2 discourages direct balls over the top of Chievo’s backline.

Roma tried to circumvent the gialloblu’s defensive block by implementing a back-three, pushing the central midfielders’ further up field. Maran prepared his side for such an eventuality, instructing his players to switch to a 5-3-2 low-block. Thus, Chievo effectually clogged half-spaces (1), simultaneously smothering Dzeko (2):

As luck would have it, Roma profited from Chievo’s resistance to possession football for a second time in the 57th minute. Fazio rushed out from the backline to clear Sorrentino’s direct drop-kick. Even though the Argentine conceded possession, Strootman anticipated Cesar’s subsequent header, proceeding to play the ball to Salah who returned it to the Dutchman. With time and space the latter noticed El Shaarawy’s run between Cacciatore and Frey, setting up Il Faraone’s second goal with a superb diagonal ball:


With a 3-2 lead Roma prioritized the defensive phase, transitioning to a 4-1-4-1 low-block as Chievo advanced with the ball. An increased emphasis on vertical compactness permitted the giallorossi to use the touchline as a third defender; thereby ensuring the central midfielders retreated to the penalty area in order to aid their center-backs:

Chievo tried to catch Roma off-guard by hastening their counterattacks through prompt switches of play followed by early balls into the box. But, the Flying donkey’s attacks were ground to a halt in the manner aforesaid via a 4-4-2 defensive block. On the attacking front Roma made an adjustment that would prove decisive in the final fifteen minutes of the match. Spalletti sill opted to overload the right side of the pitch, however, Radja Nainggolan’s introduction saw Roma apply a 2-4-2-2. The Belgium international often played behind Dzeko and Salah, giving Roma’s attack much-needed depth:


Salah’s goal (76th minute):

Chievo used a 4-3-1-2 to restrict passing lanes to Nainggolan, yet their preoccupation with our beloved Ninja shifted focus away from De Rossi and Paredes. Consequently, De Rossi calmly sauntered toward Chievo’s goal while Nainggolan joined Salah and Dzeko. Numerical equality on edge of Chievo’s 18-yard box facilitated the clever interplay between Salah and Dzeko culminating in a two-goal advantage for the away side:

Dzeko’s goal 82nd minute:

Diego Perotti’s inclusion added an extra dimension to Roma’s play in the attacking third. By providing width on the left, he deterred Cacciatore from combining his efforts with Frey to contain Dzeko. It is also crucial to take note of Strootman’s run in that he also prevented a double-team:

Key Moment: Stephan El Shaarawy’s go-ahead Goal

El Shaarawy’s strike not only gave Roma their first lead, it also inspired an improved performance from the team as a whole (Spalletti included). From the 57th minute onward Roma sustained possession, defended responsibly, and refined their approach in the attacking phase to good effect.

Man of the Match: Mohamed Salah

Salah was simply superb. He made five ball recoveries, completed 39-of-43 passes, and his perpetual off-ball movement opened up space for himself as well as his teammates. That said, his work-rate and interplay were integral to the transition and attacking phases. Scoring two well-taken goals did not harm his case either.