If you find yourself at a loss for words when describing this current iteration of AS Roma, you're not alone. Seldom coming apart at the seams yet never really seeming like the genuine article, Roma have suffered through some pretty wild swings over the past year, making it practically impossible to label this current group of Giallorossi. And you may never find a more perfect encapsulation of that conundrum than Roma's 3-2 victory over Cagliari.
Statistically speaking, Roma ruled the roost on Wednesday, besting their guests in virtually every category, but did you ever feel truly comfortable while watching yesterday's victory? Were Roma really that convincing?
Between Pedro's poor play, some rash challenges early in the match, shaky keeping, and that pocket of 15 to 20 minutes in the second half where it seemed like Roma destined to leave three points on the table, nothing ever felt completely settled yesterday.
In some sense, Fonseca Football® has operated like a small engine with the choke partially engaged. Sure, you can technically run it like that for a while, but you'll risk damaging the engine performance, and how much faith do you have in the engine to begin with? If you let off the choke, will it run at full throttle or sputter and die?
That's Roma's 2020 in a nutshell: the half-measures have worked for the time being, but when Fonseca really opens up the throttle, success hasn't always followed.
It's into that abyss we'll dive one more time in 2020 as we tally up our final Sinners & Saints for this...unique year.
Take everything we just said about Roma (and small engines) and apply it to Pedro. On the one hand, he played a few nice passes and crosses but all that good work was torn asunder by his two missed chances and noticeable fatigue. More often than not, Pedro made the right decisions but his execution, timing, and touch were off the mark.
After starting off the season like a house on fire (four goals and an assist in his first 10 matches), Pedro has come crashing back to Earth, registering a match rating of 6.2 or worse in four of his past six matches.
Pedro has already played more minutes in his first few months with Roma than he did all last season. He just needs a break. Pedro can still a major contributor for Roma if his minutes are managed properly.
It was a relatively quiet evening by his standards but in 77 minutes Dzeko took two shots, scored a goal, had one key pass, won three aerial duels, pulled off two dribbles, and drew three fouls.
With 75 touches, two shots (both on target), two key passes, two interceptions, 90% passing (including 5-6 on longball attempts), and Roma's first goal, Veretout did a little bit of everything yesterday and seems to be rounding back into form after a brief dip late in the fall.
With an early yellow card in the match, it seemed like Mancini was heading for a rough evening at the Olimpico, but the 24-year-old center-back put in a stellar performance yesterday, arguably contributing more to the attack than defense. In 90 minutes, Mancini's defensive numbers were rather pedestrian (though that's due in part to the discrepancy in possession) but he was incredibly accurate distributing the ball from the back, completing 86% of his passes, and completing 10 of 12 longballs, while taking a match-high 83 touches.
Not really overwhelming in any particular area, Cristante had a few nice moments and would have had a goal were it not for Alessio Cragno. Cristante availed himself quite well as Roma's ball-playing center-back for most of the evening, frequently serving as an outlet/reference point for Roma's methodical buildup play.
The good (94% passing, five tackles, three longballs). The bad (conceding a penalty, dribbled past four times). Textbook SIBer.
Karsdorp did practically nothing defensively but played a sublime cross to set up Dzeko's goal, tallying his third assist of the season. Karsdorp has only eclipsed 1,000 minutes once in the past four and a half seasons, so he may be in for some regression, but he's playing great football at the moment.
Well, that's the final Sinners & Saints for 2020. It's a series we only started about a year ago, so we hope you're enjoying it.