If you’re short on time this Sunday—maybe you’ve got laundry, or grocery shopping to do, or perhaps you have a paper due tomorrow—just browse our archives for any match review from the tail end of 2015, Rudi Garcia’s death rattle; things are once again that bleak. Roma are punchless and directionless in attack while remaining absolutely porous in defense; making matters worse, outside of Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Florenzi and Kostas Manolas, the players don’t seem too bothered by it.
Given all that, how history repeats itself in Rome, I’m not sure there’s much point in rehashing the actual ins and outs of this match, but in sum, it was everything we’ve seen over the past month: Roma getting absolutely nothing in the way of creativity from its midfield, the defense looking disjointed and easily stretched, while the attack once again resorted to firing desperate—and I mean desperate—crosses at Edin Dzeko. Swap out Dzeko for Mattia Destro and replace Kluivert with Gervinho, and really, what’s the difference? This is the fall of 2015 all over again; there is absolutely nothing going right for this club at the moment, resulting an excruciating viewing experience.
And, listen, we can’t even fault Di Francesco for not trying something different—not tactically, come on, that’s crazy—but he did make a couple of lineup changes ahead of this one. With Aleksandar Kolarov looking exhausted, he opted for Ivan “Yes, I was Free” Marcano at leftback, while giving Justin Kluivert a start out wide. And really, all we can say about Marcano is he’s...uh...fast? Beyond that, he was really beyond redemption. At this point, if Kolarov doesn’t play, why not give Luca Pellegrini some minutes?
As far as Kluivert is concerned, he looked like exactly what he is: a kid making a jump to a bigger league, suffering from confidence and a lack of consistency. He’s too talented not to get there, but at the moment, he seems best reserved for the late second half sub, where his athleticism alone makes him an ace up Roma’s sleeve. So in that sense, EDF got it backwards today; Ünder should have started and Kluivert should have come on late.
The match wasn’t totally without positives—Diego Perotti looked dangerous, creating five chances and taking three shots—the club (somehow) amassed 26 shots, with 8 on target, but can you recall a single one that looked like it was going to beat Skorupski?
I’m afraid we’ve reached a point where looking for positives becomes a fool’s errand. I mean, 26 shots is amazing, but seriously, was there a single one that made you jump out of your seat? Lorenzo Pellegrini missed an absolute sitter and Dzeko skyed one while he was being dragged down, but beyond that, I can’t recall any genuine chances; it was just a smattering of half assed attempts lacking any planning.
So this is where we sit after five matches: Roma have won only once, and that was thanks to an 89th minute goal from Dzeko, and with five points from five matches, the Giallorossi are currently stuck in 12th place, and what’s worse, they have a negative goal differential. Make no mistake, Roma haven’t caught a streak of bad luck, they’ve been absolutely miserable in ever phase of the game: attack, defense, midfield, transition...you name, it’s broken.
Where they go from here is anyone’s guess. The cries for EDF’s head will surely fill the papers tomorrow, but what realistic options are available? They can’t afford Conte, and probably not even Blanc, so unless you’re keen for a Vincenzo Montella or Claudio Ranieri reunion, we may be stuck with Di Francesco for a while.
And in a measure of how rotten things are in Roma right now, are we sure EDF is even really the root cause? I’m not saying he’s a mastermind in the making, but Roma pushing out Alisson, Salah, Strootman, Totti, and Nainggolan surely gutted the team of talent and leadership, all of which has been replaced with the walking dead (Marcano) and the just beginning to crawl (Kluivert, Cristante et al).
So, in a nutshell, this is everything we’ve been decrying for years: the majority of Roma’s misery is her own doing, and barring a major organizational change, the cycle will continue...only the names and faces change.