Dzeko’s Performance Exemplifies EDF’s Training Regime
“Edin had three or four important balls given to him in the first half and he wasn’t determined or lucid enough to finish them like he was in the 90th minute,” Di Francesco told Roma TV. “It seems like a paradox because maybe you’d expect him to be more lucid on the easier ones. But he grew into the match, hit the post and then scored a goal. Sometimes the match situations, the game conditions and your own personal condition allow you to grow into the game.”
Yes, Edin Dzeko - much like Roma during the final league matches of last season - spent Sunday conspiring to make the easy stuff look hard, and the hard stuff look simple. While EDF was the man pointing this out, the coach may count himself the most responsible for these rollercoaster in-game performances. Known for overloading his players with physical work on the holiday breaks, it looks like EDF’s wiley veteran players are just picking their moments to get through another season of his demands.
“I never thought about bringing the ball down, “ Dzeko told Roma TV, “because it was the end of the match and they’d been putting bodies in the box all game. If I bring it down to take another touch, I don’t score.”
That kind of decisiveness in the 90th minute was a far cry from the Dzeko we saw in the box in the first half, and we’ve been here time and before. Not just with Dzeko, but the entire front line and anyone responsible for passes inside of 18 yards to goal, while we’re at it.
While it takes some time for an EDF team to get going, ultimately they seem to outlast their opponents and get it done at the death. That’s very Juventus-like and feels like I need to go wash this article out with soap.
Roma’s Height May Pay Off Against The Long Ball Tactics
While we’ve speculated why Monchi saw fit to add 2 centimetres to the average height of Roma’s squad - which by 2017/2018 measures now makes Roma the tallest squad in the whole of Europe over FC Copenhagen (especially after they just gave Roma their tallest player) - but Di Francesco hinted that the height advantage was for the versatility in controlling defensive phases of the game. This was the kind of versatility that spectacularly evaded Roma in one crucial spell of the last season’s Champions League semi at Anfield.
“When you have to face a team that often looks for the long ball straight to their attackers like Torino’s long balls today,” said EDF, “it’s inevitable your first line of pressing is going to get taken out the game. It’s easier to talk about pressing when facing teams who are looking to pass it on the ground. Torino looked to pass it more in the second half, but in the first half they resorted to looking for long balls because we’d been good at not conceeding easy chances.”
And this is all before Steven Nzonzi has had his way with Serie A teams.
On the other hand, away from all the hype of tall players, how good was Florenzi this weekend? His winning the ball back and offering the extra man advantage deep in Torino’s half shouldn’t go without mention. Neither should Kluivert’s threat to the game.
El Shaarawy and Ünder Compete Over Worst Performance
Would you rather have a guy play it safe and invisible? Or a guy hog the ball and criminally waste it? That was the choice that Roma’s starting wide men offered the Lupi this weekend. Then SES refused to pass to Cengiz or even acknowledge his existence, just for bonus points.
Cengiz Ünder was wasteful, taking 42 touches - the most of anyone in the front line - and managing a paltry 60 percent passing accuracy. His decision making was just entirely off. Only a feel-good story at Fiumicino later on Sunday evening - where a kid stopped Cengiz for an autograph with no pen and paper in hand, and Cengiz stopped traffic to gift the kid a team cap instead - could put any sort of positive spin on the Turk’s weekend.
SES, for his part, revived that old cliche of a team forced to play with ten men. It’s way too soon in the season to bring the axe down on anyone and single them out but, knowing SES’s history of complacency and false dawns, either he kicks into gear this season or it’ll just never happen for him at Roma.
An Opportunity For EDF To Show Good Subs
While EDF has a reputation for being self-effacing, it’s largely unfounded. Just every now and then, EDF never shies from giving himself a large slice of the credit.
“The team strongly wanted this win just as I did with my changes,” Di Francesco said to Roma TV, “I wanted to make a strong impression on the team to never get complacent. The fact of never showing complacency should become the signature of this team. I want them to always play to win.”
A clear broadshot to SES, who was off before anyone else for Cristante. Then Justin Kluivert came on for Ünder, and Kluivert showed you don’t need to see very much of the ball (7 touches in total) to make a resounding impact on a game. Finally, Pastore’s tired and error-strewn performance was brought to an end by Patrick Shick finding minutes alongside Dzeko.
Overall, it made for a sound approach to subs and squad management. Hours later, Luciano Spalletti’s idea of throwing as many forwards on as possible against Sassuolo and hoping something sticks would only drive that point home even more. And that’s really the biggest takeaway of this post-match: remembering to never miss an opportunity to laugh at Inter.
And Finally, Robin Olsen: Not Just A Pretty Pair of Hands
Yes, Robin Olsen helped out the defence when they started getting stretched. Yes he came up with three or four good to great saves in a row, and that is to his credit. It’s great to get that under his belt on his senior debut, and should hopefully give him momentum going forward. But we were all more worried about Olsen’s distribution than his credentials for saving goals.
While the Swede didn’t show the most aggressive positioning on the pitch, he did start off moves with his feet. Thanks to domenicaroma23 for this find on the interwebs, below. Just one step closer to filling that void left by Alisson.
A sequence from #Roma; from goalkick to good cutback situation. GK delivers ball to RB in an isolated outer corridor, where triangular combination with a CM & RW is formed. Ball is progressed from CM to ST, as RW seizes space in behind defensive line. pic.twitter.com/PIsxYsd4HI— coachdogge (@coachdogge) August 19, 2018