We mentioned it a couple times yesterday, but it bears repeating: Roma were really up against it in their trip to Genoa. Missing both starting full-backs due to suspension, dealing with the Spinazzola-Politano melodrama and looking to stop a two-match losing streak, this wasn't your average Round 20 fixture. Yet Roma came out smelling like roses. Thanks to impressive displays all over the pitch, Roma were able to weather Genoa's second half surge, eventually downing the home side 3-1 to earn their first league win of the new decade.
Yesterday's victory wasn't their most conclusive win of the season, but with some more patience and precision in attack Roma were able to correct course from their prior to league matches. From a 23% shot accuracy against Torino to yesterday's 40% effort, Fonseca's attack was more measured and purposeful—they only took four shots from outside the area in the run of play.
Since the only real spot of bother yesterday was Goran Pandev's goal right before the stroke of half-time, we're going to keep this review completely pious.
Roma's young centerback continued his ascendancy with another stellar and active evening on the pitch. In 90 minutes, Mancini completed 88% of his passes, won five aerials, had three tackles, two interceptions, seven clearances and perhaps most impressively, hit on eight of twelve long balls.
Gianluca Mancini is only 23-years-old and he's already on his way to being one of the best defenders in the country. What a signing; let's hope he sticks around awhile.
Remember about a year or so ago when we joked that Ünder would be Roma's FFP sacrifice of the summer? It was a reflex reaction and/or feeble attempt to hide the fear and pain of Roma losing yet another star in the making, but once the 2019-2020 season started and Ünder was on the outside looking in, it almost seemed kind of quaint.
Injuries played a role, as did the emergence of Nicolo Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert on the wings, but Ünder went from FFP fodder to almost an afterthought. However, lest we be accused of schadenfreude, Zaniolo's loss may be Ünder's gain.
In 87 minutes yesterday, Cengiz was a terror, exerting his will on Genoa's poor fullbacks from the opening whistle. In addition to his fifth minute goal, Ünder had four shot attempts (putting 50% on target), one key pass, one dribble, and completed three of five long balls.
We've certainly seen gaudier numbers from Ünder, but the kid we all came to know and love a few seasons ago is still there, bubbling under the surface and waiting to explode again.
If he keeps playing like this, Premier League scouts will soon become a fixture at Roma matches. In 90 minutes, the Guinean God of the Midfield was cool, calm and resolute, completing 85% of his passes, hit on two of four long balls and had an impressive seven interceptions, all while covering nearly 12 kilometers on the pitch.
...si è abbassato lo stipendio per venire a Roma— John Solano (@Solano_56) January 20, 2020
Sometimes images speak louder than words and this was one of at least three sure fire goals Pau Lopez turned away yesterday in arguably his best day in a Roma shirt.
We'll end this one with the man placed in the most awkward position imaginable. Cast out from Roma just days before, Spinazzola looked absolutely miserable when landing in Milan ahead of his transfer to Inter. However, thanks to Antonio Conte's need to triple check things, and Roma's refusal to go along with his shenanigans, Spinazzola returned to Roma late in the week.
And rather than holding a grudge, Spinazzola gave us all an example in professionalism, jumping right into the starting lineup for the first time in over a month and excelling. Filling in for Aleskandar Kolarov on the left flank, Spinazzola was fantastic going forward throughout the evening and finished the match with three key passes, six crosses (33% accuracy) and seven long balls (71% accuracy).
Most Roma fans were ecstatic at the prospect of bringing Matteo Politano home (which may still happen) but yesterday Spinazzola showed us all why he was such an ideal fit for Fonseca Football to begin with.
Spinazzola could be addition by subtraction by addition for Roma in the second half.