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The Day After... Roma vs. Genoa

A show of character from Fazio, Cristante and Kluivert drag Roma to 3 points.

AS Roma v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

I’ll admit this is one match I didn’t watch over again. For a couple of reasons:

  1. We knew the Champions’ League draw be more important this Monday morning.
  2. Last night’s game against Genoa, like all recent games, was purely about character. Tactics talk can feel redundant on most days but especially at a time like this one.

Nonetheless, I do feel these games are more useful to look over than most wins. The adversity lets you know what options you’re really working with in the here and now. Di Francesco can soon count on the return of De Rossi, Dzeko, Lorenzo Pellegrini and Stephan El Shaarawy by the new year. Who will be playing alongside those four names in the starting lineup come January-February time?

Three men stepped up to the plate last night.

Others were either jeered before kick-off or let the fans’ protests get to their head, in a very strange game where the result (amid many wrong refereeing calls) was better than the team performance.

Roma’s Counter Attacking Win

You’d expect more than 16 chances on target against Genoa at the Olimpico over 90 minutes. It wasn’t a commanding Roma performance and the meagre 55% of possession confirmed that much. The buildup saw Florenzi, Schick and Di Francesco’s names all whistled by the crowd when announced over the public system before kick off.

Clearly Florenzi’s toxic relationship with the Olimpico crowd lives onto into this season. The 10 minutes silent protest seemed to do nothing other than ramp up the nerves for Florenzi, Olsen and Kolarov who all had an evening to forget.

At 0-1 down in the first half, Di Francesco was even heard trying to provoke his touchline staff by asking them “are you all dead?”

AS Roma v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

Federico “Commandante” Fazio

Plenty of people will criticize Fazio for the risks he takes, but who else will take them? Kolarov can try but he’s clearly been run into the ground by Di Francesco for over a year now.

Defensively, Manolas put in more clearances than both JJ and Fazio together (5) and Manolas had nearly as many interceptions (4) as both other men too (5). If you like your defenders to defend and nothing more, you love a Kostas Manolas performance.

But Manolas isn’t shy in blaming others for “not defending as 11” in EDF’s team, conveniently turning quiet when it’s time to attack as 11 too. Too often in EDF’s blocca squadra has Fazio been left to shoulder responsibility where Manolas and others will not.

On the attacking end against Genoa:

Kostas Manolas 40 Passes, 17% of total passes were forward passes, O in Opposition Half
Juan Jesus 54 Passes, 35% of total passes were forward passes, 6 in Opposition Half
Federico Fazio 63 Passes, 41% of total passes were forward passes, 16 in Opposition Half

You can asterisk part of this by saying Manolas was clearly asked to play cover defender in the back three. But this was Genoa. Before the game, everyone would have been asked to do more to keep the play in Genoa’s half away from Roma’s goal. That didn’t happen.

Fazio, for his part, kept all his passing exclusively to the right side of the pitch in both halves. Whenever he showed up in the middle of Genoa’s half to attack the goal, he kept it purely to shots on goal (4 of them, 2 on target) and scored Roma’s first goal of the night.

If Fazio doesn’t push up forward to link up defence with attack, will anyone else? At 0-1 down and demoralised by the worst-timed Robin Olsen error of the season, it’s Fazio who turns up in the opposition box to rifle off two shots on target when the team is down, 1 of them an instant snapshot buried into the back of the next.

Without the big Argentine carrying Roma on his back, the “someone else will do it” mentality reigns over this side.

Bryan “All-Rounder” Cristante

AS Roma v Genoa CFC - Serie A Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

In a 3-4-3, both Cristante and Nzonzi were free to be traditional central midfielders. Unfortunately both men still revert to their nature and push up too recklessly to leave their backline exposed, and the 60 million spent in midfield on these two players by Monchi remains the Spaniard’s biggest faux-pas of this past summer’s window.

While Nzonzi is undoubtedly intelligent, experienced and - at his sharpest - quality on the ball, Monchi had time to see this coming. Roma’s sporting director ran into the exact same midfield chemistry problems with Nzonzi under Sampaoli before. Sampaoli’s answer, like EDF’s own, was to switch to 3-man backline (a solution that still looks ineffective in this injury-hit Roma side) but Monchi making the same mistake twice at two different clubs is hard to excuse, especially when more money was spent the second time around. Headlines persist that Monchi will look to rectify his mistake by signing cut-price defensive midfielder Sanogo from Young Boys in January.

However, Cristante is gambling hard to justify his inclusion in the team on the attacking end. He turned up on the left side of the pitch, 11 minutes into the game, to try a searching through-ball onto goal before trying the same thing on the right side of the pitch just 20 minutes later. Cristante’s just about the only Roma midfielder forcing these vertical passes where no one else dares to, coming up with 3 key passes yesterday evening.

Cristante’s passing accuracy wasn’t even comparatively bad (79%); it certainly wasn’t below the level of a Javier Pastore performance at PSG in his best seasons there, and much better than Kolarov’s erratic showing on the ball yesterday (4 key passes made from the Serb - mostly from crosses - but only 68.4% passing accuracy).

Justin “Kamp Nou” Kluivert

You can either look at Justin Kluivert as well-motivated mercenary, or maybe he’s just 19 years old. He clearly gives a damn, and this was one game he was able to show it.

The Dutchman came up with a successful tackle, 2 fouls, drew a foul on himself, made a key pass and took two shots on goal. The lone shot on target that he buried into the back of the net for Roma’s second equalizer came after a 70-yard non stop run from deep alongside Kolarov in Roma’s half, all the way through to scoring inside Genoa’s penalty area. All in the same action.

It remains to be seen whether Kluivert’s best moments in a Roma shirt come about as a result of EDF’s game or in spite of it.

Of the three names rising under the pressure yesterday evening, two of them are Monchi signings but, worryingly, only one of three star performers against Genoa was a senior player. The lack of character from Roma’s experienced players (of the ones available right now) doesn’t bode well for a Giallorossi side looking to pick up the club’s first ever win at the J stadium next weekend.

Nevertheless both Javier Pastore and Adriano are clearly looking forward to Juventus vs Roma in DAZN Italia’s TV spot this week: