As we discussed throughout the week, today's matchup between Roma and AC Milan was a meeting of equals. Both clubs have designs on rejoining the elites of Italian football, but both clubs have been waylaid by injuries and some ill-advised signings in the recent past, weighing down whatever progress they'd hope to make.
With both sides struggling for form and dealing with a spate of injuries, the top of the table seemed to grow more distant with each passing week. For Milan, a win today would have vaulted them out of 13th place (yes, you read that correctly), while three points would have put Roma within touching distance of their holy grail—a spot in the top four.
With so much at stake, the disarray with which both clubs approached the first chunk of this match was quite alarming. Through the first half an hour, there wasn't much to write home about, but Roma would break the deadlock in the 38th minute when Edin Dzeko got on the end of a Jordan Veretout corner to give the Giallorossi the early lead.
Milan would battle back when Theo Hernandez grabbed a deflection-assisted goal in the 55th minute, temporarily robbing Roma of three full points. Pau Lopez had the angle and the timing on lock, but the deflection was just too much to over come.
Fate would reverse course three minutes later, when Nicolo Zaniolo was the beneficiary of a lucky bounce, seizing on a Milan clearance (a term we use loosely) to put Roma back on top. It was just a well struck left-footed effort from Zaniolo—he was denied twice in this match by Gianluigi Donnarumma, but something tells me he'll be okay with scoring the match winner.
Milan had a few chances down the stretch, but Zaniolo's goal remained the difference.
Random Thoughts and Observations
- The first half-hour of this match was brutal to watch. Roma and Milan were both dealing with injuries and varying states of poor form, and it showed. There was just no fluency to this match whatsoever.
- Dzeko's 38th minute headed goal was his 94th for Roma in all competitions. Go back in time to his first season, when he managed only eight league goals, and tell me you saw this coming. He's had his ups and downs for sure, but he could very well crack 100 Roma goals before Christmas. He's a Roma legend. Full stop.
- I have no serious qualms with Pau Lopez, but watching Gianluigi Donnarumma at times makes me wish those transfer rumors came true. He's so big and so talented and still just 20-years-old. If Milan continue to flounder, you have to wonder how much longer he'll stick around there.
- Speaking of which...
- We discussed it earlier this week, but what the hell has happened to Milan? Way back in the late 80s/early 90s, as an American kid ignorant to the ways of football, Milan were the first soccer team I had ever heard, and I didn't know what the “AC” stood for, but the mere fact that I was aware of their existence probably meant they were good—sort of like how the Yankees are known in areas where baseball is an after thought.
- We talk a lot about raising the profile of Serie A in comparison to La Liga and the Premiership, and certainly getting Milan back to being Milan would help.
- I'm still a bit surprised, given the injury crisis in midfield, that we haven't seen Alessio Riccardi yet. I hope he gets a chance during all this. If not now, when? Play him or loan him.
- While not in the same vein, I hope we see Cetin at some point this season. He just looks like a beast. Unleash him.
- Every time I want to say something nice about Gianluca Mancini something bad happens. Like missing an open header in the 70th minute of a tight 2-1 match.
- Too bad it came at the cost of Spinazzola, but we finally caught a glimpse of the Turkish U21. He came on at full-back, which isn't even his natural position, and looked...kinda good. His first touch of the match was a bit dicey, but he looked strong, fast and aggressive. We might be onto something here.
- Spinazzola seemed to have a twinge or a knock of some sort, but given the current state of affairs, I wouldn't be shocked if he's out for weeks.
- Fonseca made two late defensive switches in this match—Cetin and Santon—but kept Florenzi on the bench. Is something up or is he just saving him for another busy week?
- Roma are back up to 5th. Not bad when you consider the context.
Serie A Has as English Twitter Account Now
Roma hit the road to take on 12th place Udinese on Wednesday.