If this were an Atalanta site, we'd be singing the praises of Josip Ilicic, whose masterful second half performance won the day for the Bergamo-based club. Ilicic, in only 45 minutes of action, was the unquestioned star of the show in Atalanta's 4-1 win yesterday, setting up two goals before slicing through Roma's defense to bag one of his own in the 85th minute. Ilicic's performance grabbed most of the headlines, but Roma were done in by a top to bottom masterclass by Gian Piero Gasperini, who had the Giallorossi figured out to a tee in the second half.
It was an incredibly disappointing performance from Roma, especially when you consider they could have been up 2-0 early in the first half had Leonardo Spinazzola been able to take advantage of some horrible positioning from Atalanta keeper Pierluigi Gollini, who came way off his line to the edge of the box to cut off a Spinazzola breakaway.
By his own admission, Paulo Fonseca described Roma's second-half performance as “childish.” It's hard to argue with that assessment, so, as you may have guessed, there won't be any saints following yesterday's debacle, but let's kick-off things by focusing on two players who were decent enough in Roma's 4-1 defeat.
As a reminder, this new category is saved for players who had a few nice moments in what would otherwise be average performances at best; not quite a sinner, not quite a saint, they're stuck in-between. Truth be told, the first man up was pretty stellar yesterday, but we can't justify giving a defender a halo when the team was so soundly beaten.
Yeah, he tempted referee Marco Di Bello by running into a few meaty challenges, but Ibañez was incredibly active yesterday. In 90 minutes, Ibañez had one tackle, six interceptions, seven clearances, and four blocked shots (he also completed 4 of 5 long-balls); he was pretty much the only thing standing between an ugly loss and a complete debacle yesterday.
One shot, one goal, two aerials won, and a perfect two out of two on long-balls. Not too shabby, even if he did wilt down the stretch.
Alright, onto the dregs...
Roma's veteran keeper has done reasonably well as the club's starting keeper this year, but he did all he could yesterday to give the job right back to Pau Lopez. He made three saves in total, but was atrocious on Roben Gosen's 70th-minute match-winner, claiming Ilicic's cross to Gosens with all the fury of a field mouse, and looked flat-footed and helpless on Luis Muriel's breakaway goal. He wasn't done any favors on either goal by his teammates (Karsdorp and then Veretout), but if we harangue Lopez in similar situations, it's only right that we hold Mirante to the same standards.
Neither man should be Roma's keeper next season, but who starts in-between the sticks going forward is anyone's guess at this point.
After getting praised following Roma's victory over Torino, I'm afraid it's right back to the sinner's list for Veretout, whose turnover led directly to Muriel's goal yesterday. Granted, he was under a bit of pressure, but his ill-advised pass towards Chris Smalling was easily intercepted by Muriel, who put the match beyond all doubt.
Apart from that moment, Veretout was pretty wasteful in possession, completing only 72% of his passes (compared to his season average of nearly 89%) and lost possession 20 times (2nd most on both clubs), though he did much better defensively, winning six tackles and eight ground duels.
Exhausted. Tired. Fatigued. Ineffective. Inert. Benign. Choose whatever adjective you like, Pedro looked like a shell of the player he was earlier in the fall. In 73 minutes, Pedro took 43 touches, lost possession 12 times, and did little more than contribute one key pass. If you had any doubt that this guy needs help, yesterday was proof positive that you can only lean on a 33-year-old winger so hard before he starts to feel the effects.
With 80 minutes of mostly absent football, Pellegrini wasn't able to follow up on impressive performances against Sassuolo, Bologna, and Torino in consecutive weeks. He may have completed three of four long ball attempts, but that was about the extent of Pellegrini's afternoon. With his side in dire need of a creative spark in the second half, Pellegrini came up short.
Karsdorp may soon have new competition for playing time in the form of teenaged Texan Bryan Reynolds, and with a clunker of a performance yesterday, he didn't exactly strengthen his grasp on the position either. In 90 minutes, Karsdorp played a couple of well-placed long balls and whipped it a decent cross towards no one in particular (because no one bothered to run onto it) but was otherwise absent, much like the names above him on this list.
With 40% of the Atalanta attacking coming down his flank, Gasperini clearly saw something worth exploiting down Roma's right side. In those 90 minutes, Karsdorp managed only one tackle successful tackle while being dribbled past twice. He wasn’t bad in the strictest sense, just really ineffective; Roma's theme for the evening.
We usually try to keep this series limited to players, but it's hard to stump for Fonseca after yesterday's match; he was outclassed by Gasperini, particularly in the second half where he failed to react to GPGs changes.
Things should be a bit easier on Wednesday when Roma plays host to 13th place Cagliari, so let’s hope for better performances from all these names.