You didn't have to be a world class manager to tell what was wrong with Roma yesterday, but just in case you're an average Joe like me, let's turn to Paulo Fonseca for the post match analysis:
I think we played without intensity in attack. We got there so many times and made the wrong final pass, but we did it all slowly and without the right intensity,
Right intensity or not, one would think that Roma, even in their relaxed state, would have been able to handle CSKA Sofia, a club that recently sacked their manager and sit fifth in the fourteen-team Bulgarian First League.
But they didn't. Rather than embarrassing their guests in a three or four-nil rout, Roma were largely held in check by CSKA Sofia, resulting in a frustrating and deflating match for managers, players and fans alike.
With that in mind, let's pass out some halos and horns...I guess? What do sinners get?
By now, you're all well aware of my issues and concerns with Lopez, but we have to give credit where it's due: he made several key saves in yesterdays match. All told, Lopez faced 11 shots, four of which were on target, en route to his clean-sheet performance against Sofia.
Is he ready to resume his starting role? The goalie in me absolutely shrieked in horror at this “technique” from Lopez, which leads to me to say...NO!
If I learned only one thing from all the hours I spent draped in goalie pads as a kid, it's this: don't clear the puck up the middle—and the same thing applies to football. By parrying the ball directly through the middle, Lopez nearly gifted Sofia a match winning goal. Catch it, push it off to the left or right, or fucking launch it into the stratosphere; do anything but clear it up the middle!
Moments like this can often be the difference between victory and defeat, and while Roma were fortunate nothing came of this, Lopez continues to dance with the devil.
But that's really only a criticism from my own experience as a goalie. Lopez was up to the task when called upon yesterday, and that's precisely what you want from your second-choice keeper.
The writing is on the wall: Lopez isn't long for Roma, but performances like this should make his inevitable transfer a bit easier to pull off.
Roma's surprise signing of the summer continued his excellent start to the season yesterday at the Olimpico. In 90 minutes, Kumbulla took 85 touches (third most), completed 82% of his passes, had one shot on goal and one successful dribble. Behind the ball, Max had four tackles, one interception, two clearances, one blocked shot and won 10 of 12 duels (ground and aerial).
The dude is just smooth. There's no other way to describe it. Between Kumbulla and Roger Ibañez, it's been a long time since Roma has had two defenders this young and this talented.
At 33-years-old and never blessed with other worldly athleticism, Fazio seems to be settling into the second phase of his career: an experienced and reliable backup. Just as he did against Young Boys last week, Fazio played the entire match and was steady as she goes. In 90 minutes, Fazio took 79 touches, completed 88% of his passes, completed two tackles, won seven of nine duels and hit on four of six long balls.
Roma's center-back rotation—Smalling, Ibañez, Kumbulla and Mancini—is set in stone, but Fazio is shaping up to be one of the league's best fourth-choice center-backs. He likely won't wow you anymore, but he's as dependable as the day is long.
I didn't intend on running this list to four saints, but Villar continued to impress with his composure and close control. In 90 minutes yesterday, the kid with the bangs was a possession machine. With 79 touches, Villar led all attacking players in time on the ball and he was instrumental in whatever offense Roma could muster yesterday.
Villar completed 88% of his passes yesterday, including two key passes, one big chance, one through ball and completed four of five long balls. And on top of that, Villar had three shots on goal and four successful dribbles. Defensively speaking, he was almost as astute, winning 100% of his aerial duels and 43% of his ground duels.
It's hard to believe this kid was playing in the Spanish segunda last year; quite the sneaky signing by Roma.
Okay, onto the heathens...
Mayoral's second Roma appearance was a near carbon copy of his debut against Young Boys last week. Playing 69 minutes against Sofia, Mayoral was...hard to notice. Mayoral took 23 touches last night, losing possession seven times and completing only 73% of his passes. While he managed three attempts on goal, none were officially on target and two were blocked.
It's still way too early to draw any conclusions about Mayoral, but the early glimpses haven't been encouraging, both in terms of his skillset and Fonseca's utilization of him. I hope at some point soon we'll see what this kid can do, but right now he's awkwardly and inappropriately cast as a mini-Dzeko, which isn't working for anyone.
With Davide Santon a late scratch for the game, Fonseca really had no choice but to play Spinazzola, but Spinazzola, who has been one of Roma's most effective players over the past several matches, had an off night.
In 45 minutes, Spinazzola did well to breeze past Sofia’s defense but his final balls and/or decision making left a lot to be desired. Spinazzola completed only 70% of his passes yesterday and was particularly poor crossing the ball, completing only one of four attempts.
But here's the most telling stat: Spinazzola only had 39 touches yesterday yet lost possession 15 times. You can't have that, especially not when you consider how important he is in Roma's attacking schemes.
The Third Kits
Hey, we're nothing if not an opinion site, so indulge me, if you will. Roma didn't hype up these third shirts quite as much as last season's stunning blue throwbacks, but they did a decent amount of PR work for these black and orange monstrosities.
While I dig the gray/safari pattern on the side, the orange block was simply too bright, too bold and too big to work with the black body and gray accents. Give it more of a yellow/Roma tinge and it would be passable, but why not lose the orange all together? Picture that dark black with those same gray/safari accents? Ooh mama, now we're talking!
Maybe you're with me, maybe you're not, but these shirts fell completely flat in my eyes.