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Seeking Second Straight Win, Roma Look to Beat Up On Benevento

Roma rolled the Serie A newcomers last time around, but will recent history repeat itself?

Benevento Calcio v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Maurizio Lagana/Getty Images

After a miserable month and a half stretch in which Roma managed to go winless in seven matches (all competitions), Eusebio Di Francesco’s boys managed to get off the schnide last week against mighty Verona. While it wasn’t quite on par with the Philadelphia Eagles heroics that Sunday, for Roma the victory was nearly as large. With players reeling from near transfers and calls for EDF’s sacking increasing by the minute ,Roma simply had to to something to quell that noise.

And quell it they did. After only 43 seconds or so, Cengiz Under’s wonder goal gave Roma the three points they’ve so desperately craved lo these six weeks. But will that victory prove to be a sign of things to come or merely a mirage?

Before we delve into this match, a look back to the early fall, when Roma and Benevento met for the very first time.

Last Match

September 20, 2017: Benevento 0, Roma 4

This was an odd match for several reasons. Not only was this the first ever meeting between the two clubs, but this was back in the day when Edin Dzeko and Aleksandar Kolarov were leading the charge, as they did when Roma broke the deadlock in the 27th minute. From there, Dzeko would add another while Benevento was kind enough to chip in two own goals, ratcheting the final scoreline up to 4-0 to Roma. It’s not everyday an opponent puts two past themselves, and its been many, many days since Dzeko put two past anyone.

A point not lost on EDF...

Dove è stato Dzeko?

The statistics are clear, we create more chances than any other side in Serie A this season, meaning we have a style of play, an identity and know what we have to do. We must rediscover the determination and grit that we have been missing lately. I only know one way to break through that wall and that is to put the ball in the net.

I have been a player, so I know the importance of breaking a goal drought and these lads, above all Edin Dzeko, need a goal....All I can do is put them in the best position to score and ensure they have more shots on target. Dzeko is in fine shape physically, he trains hard and I’m convinced he’ll score as soon as possible, because we really need his goals.

Source: Football Italia

While EDF is correct in his assertion that all he can do is put his players in a position to succeed, as we’ve seen several times over the past few years, when the team is constantly creating chances but fails to put them away, it’s usually the architect of those chances, the manager, whose head is placed on a pike.

Roma v. Benevento: February 11, 20:45 CET, 2:45 EST. Stadio Olimpico, Roma.

But when EDF took the job, he did so with the knowledge and comfort of having the reigning capocannoniere at his disposal, so I’m sure scoring goals was the least of his concerns. However, Dzeko’s struggles have little to nothing to do with shot volume—he leads the league with 4.6 shots per match—or chance creation, and more to do with shot accuracy. Dzeko’s 43% shot accuracy ranks 50th among Serie A forwards who have played in at least 13 matches, or roughly have the season.

In many ways, Dzeko’s struggles are emblematic of the club’s in total, but is he merely a microcosm or the problem in and of itself?

To wit, Roma’s 311 chances created do lead the league, but their 43% shot accuracy is 10th and their 33 goals scored is ninth. So in that sense, Dzeko and Roma’s struggles move in lockstep, but they do reveal the root cause of Roma’s current form.

That disconnect between the chances created and the ensuing shot accuracy and goal rate is precisely what has dragged Roma down this season, a conundrum typified by Dzeko’s lack of goals this year.

So, what gives? What’s the real culprit—the player’s performance or the tactical framework in which they play? The truth is, probably a bit of both, but firing one manager is easier than replacing twenty some odd players, so EDF’s explanations, rational though they may be, wont save his hide.

Unfortunately for EDF, he’ll be a bit short staffed this week, making that equation even tougher to solve, particularly in the midfield.

With Radja Nainggolan and Lorenzo Pellegrini suspended, and with Daniele De Rossi questionable ahead of Sunday’s match, EDF’s midfield may be as patchwork as they come. On top of all that, he may be without Patrik Schick once more, as Mr. Glass remains sidelined with some sort of muscular injury.

The good news to all this—he may deviate from the 4-3-3 once again! A quick peak at the usual probable formation sites reveals a 4-2-3-1, with everyone from Under to Diego Perotti to Gregoire Defrel serving as a trequartista. Yikes.

One thing is for certain, you have to keep Under in there; he’s Roma’s most inform player at the moment, and little by little he’s transforming himself into a slightly younger and more Turkish version of Paulo Dybala, though I see a bit of Arjen Robben in him as well.

Beyond that, it’s business as usual at the back, except for the glaring lack of depth at the fullback spot. Now that Bruno Peres has been dropped, Alessandro Florenzi and Kolarov are really being counted on for 90 minutes each and every week, with respite being provided in the form of Juan Jesus, who is a centerback, and Jonathan Silva, who is 23-years-old and, what, two months out of ACL surgery?

Roma should consider themselves luck that lowly Benevento is on the schedule this week because, much like last week’s opponent, they probably don’t have the attacking acumen to take advantage of Roma’s woeful finishing.

Two wins in a row would be nice, but some signs of definitive life would be even better.