With literally nothing at stake for either team tonight, the Mapei Stadium was as hushed as the 18th green at Augusta. While Roma had the always prideful bragging rights of finishing ahead of Lazio on the line, this match wasn’t exactly oozing with intensity. Nevertheless, Eusebio Di Francesco didn’t exactly cripple his starting eleven, featuring several season regulars, most notably Edin Dzeko, Diego Perotti, Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas.
Although this match was essentially meaningless, it was nevertheless emblematic of everything that has plagued Roma this season; lots of build up with little to no payoff. Roma was running Sassuolo ragged for much of the first half with Kevin Strootman, Dzeko and Patrik Schick all threatening within the first twenty minutes of the match.
But it was the same old story, Roma coming excruciatingly close to blowing open a match only to be left wanting. They did, however, find a break in the most peculiar way...
Gianluca Pegolo (OG): 45th Minute
While this was ultimately ruled an own goal, don’t discredit Manolas’ athleticism here—he damn near looked like a legit winger when he broke down that end line before scaring the living daylights out of Gianluca Pegolo, forcing him into a reflex own goal. Seriously, take another look at that goal, given the tight angle and the defense bearing down on him, Manolas had no other option than to fire it right at Pegolo and hope for the best.
And that was really the long and short of it; this match was not only bereft of meaning, but equally lacking in action. With the victory, Roma locked down third place, finishing five points ahead of the newly minted Champions League contestants, Inter Milan, who dispatched Lazio in a taught 3-2 match.
We’ll save the season-ending perspectives for next week, but suffice it to say, considering the front office changes, the new manager and all the sales and new faces around Trigoria, this season was a bona fide success. Sure there were moments of despair, as there always are, but Roma are definitely on the up and up, and now that we finally have a DS and a manager that are on the same page, who knows how far this project can actually go.