After a dreadful ten days that saw Roma drop three straight matches, Romanisti were finally able to smile again this week. That’s because Roma finally ended it’s losing skid with a 2-1 victory over Parma at the Olimpico.
Despite Parma going ahead on an early penalty kick, the Giallorossi were in control of from the start of the match. Roma peppered shots in the direction of the Ducali goal throughout and secured the three points with goals on either side of the break from Henrikh Mkitaryan and Jordan Veretout.
Brescia v. Roma: July 11th. 19:30 CET/1:30 EDT. Stadio Mario Rigamonti, Brescia.
The win allowed Roma to remain level on points with Napoli in fifth place. Meanwhile, Saturday’s opponent, Brescia, blew an early lead against Torino before falling 3-1 its last time out. That loss only added onto La Leonessa’s miseries. Brescia’s battle for survival is growing more dire by the week as it sits 19th on 21 points—seven off the drop.
Roma will be heavily favored in this one. However, the Giallorossi can’t get complacent as Brescia has shown the ability to pull the odd upset. Just look at last weekend’s 2-0 victory against top-half Verona.
November 24, 2019: Roma 3, Brescia 0
The first time these teams met back in late November, the Giallorossi treated Brescia like the relegation candidate side that it is. Coming off an international break (always a potential stumbling block), Roma bounced back from a defeat at Parma two weeks earlier in grand form. The Giallorossi took it to the Biancazzurri throughout the match.
In the first half, Pau Lopez was forced into action and forced to make a fine save. Meanwhile, Alfredo Donnarumma sent an unmarked header wide of Lopez’s goal-frame. Brescia were left to rue those missed chances though, as the Giallorossi went to work in the second half.
It was Roma’s dynamic defensive duo of Gianluca Mancini and Chris Smalling who made their presences felt on both ends of the pitch in this one. It was Smalling who struck first just after the break when he headed home a corner to put Roma ahead. Then just eight minutes later Smalling headed down a ball in the box to assist Mancini’s goal. Finally, Edin Dzeko put the match out of reach in the 66th minute with a goal of his own.
All told Roma took 24 shots, six of which were on target. Meanwhile, the Giallorossi controlled 60% of possession, as they cruised to victory at the Olimpico.
What To Watch For
Roma Needs Someone to Fill Mkhitaryan’s Shoes
There’s no doubting just how important Henrikh Mkhitaryan has been to Roma this season. The Giallorossi just look more dangerous when he’s on the pitch. Micki has provided eight goals and four assists in just 18 total league appearances.
Those eight goals include two in Roma’s last two matches. However, his man of the match caliber performances go far beyond the goals he’s scored. On Wednesday against Parma, Mkhitaryan scored one goal and set up another. He also had six tackles and five key passes while causing Parma all kinds of issues in the final third.
Micki’s absence means that more of the creative burden falls on a player like Pellegrini. Meanwhile, his replacement, whoever that may be, will be expected to contribute some defensive effort, as well. Someone needs to step up in his place if Roma is going to play as well as it did on Wednesday.
Roma Can’t Let Off the Gas
In Wednesday's victory over Parma, the Giallorossi put in their best performance of the restart by far. Despite the early deficit, Roma owned the match. Against the Ducali, Roma unleashed 25 shots (8 on target) while controlling 57% of possession. Meanwhile, on the defensive end, the Giallorossi limited Parma to just seven shots with only two on target.
Against relegation bound Brescia, the best thing Roma can do is come out aggressive and quickly deflate the struggling side. If Roma come out with the same aggressiveness and intent to attack then it can dominate this match. However, if the Giallorossi dawdle then it could give La Leonessa hope. And we’ve already seen against Udinese just how dangerous it is to come out flat against a team desperate for points.
Make Tonali Uncomfortable
There’s no question that Sandro Tonali is Brescia’s most valuable player. Before the summer’s out, he’ll likely be sold to Inter. But on Sunday, Roma’s number one defensive priority should be taking him off his game.
The 20-year-old midfield is the metronome of Brescia’s team. He runs the Leonessa offense from deep in the midfield and performs well beyond his years. With the second most touches and passes completed on the team (behind RB Stefano Sabelli in both categories), Tonali dictates play when Brescia has the ball. And with six assists, he has the ability to deliver a killer ball.
Brescia already controls the lowest percentage of possession on average in the league, so any pressure that Roma put on Tonali will likely make that possession even more benign. It’ll be up to the Roma midfielders to take the youngster off his game in this one. If they can make it a long day at the office for Tonali then Roma’s chances of picking up three points increase.