Brescia Calcio are many things: owners of a dope crest, four time Serie B champions, the incubators of one of Italy's brightest talents and possessors of one of the game's cleanest kits. One thing they are not, however, is a top football club. Full marks to them for making it back to Serie A, but with only 21 points through 32 rounds of play, chances are they're heading right back down to Serie B next season.
Brescia didn't present much of a challenge for Roma yesterday, but they were the perfect foil for a club looking to get back on track. Roma ran roughshod over Brescia in yesterday's 3-0 victory, and even though we shouldn't draw too many conclusions from defeating a relegation contender, Roma aced the exam in front of them: defeating a lowly opponent with ease.
Roma's victory was so convincing that every single member of the starting eleven logged match ratings of 6.6 or higher, so today's rundown will be all halos.
After turning in a clunker against Napoli last week, Fazio redeemed himself yesterday against Brescia, turning in a man of the match level performance. Starting on the left side of the three-man back-line, Fazio went the full 90, was a perfect 5 for 5 in duels, completed one tackle, had three clearances, scored Roma's first goal and even had a successful dribble—a slow one, but successful nonetheless.
We're three matches into Paulo Fonseca's tactical experimentation and so far the defenders have reaped the greatest rewards from this paradigm shift. If Roma can count on Fazio to deliver performances like this in relief of Chris Smalling and/or Gianluca Mancini going forward, then the club will be stronger for it.
Speaking of rest, Kolarov looked like a man reborn after getting a breather against Parma on Wednesday. In 90 minutes yesterday, Kolarov was instrumental in Roma’s clean-sheet performance, completing two tackles, intercepting three balls, and making three clearances, while also hitting on two of six crosses and two of three long-balls.
Two in a row! What's gotten into this guy? Peres the wingback and Peres the fullback are two entirely different species, and if Fonseca sticks with this formation he may indirectly save Peres’ European career in the process. For the second straight match, Peres was a menace going forward, creating four scoring chances, completing 91% of his passes, completing four of eight crosses and three of three long-balls. Peres did a bit of work on the other end too, chipping in three tackles and two clearances.
Another unexpected saint, Kalinic was superb in his 76 minute run yesterday, pumping five shots at Brescia, completing 94% of his passes and drawing six fouls. Oh, and he also pulled this rabbit out of a hat:
With that delicate first touch, Kalinic was able avoid a defender and skirt around the keeper all in one gentle motion, giving himself enough space for a relatively easy tap-in goal. Kalinic hasn't done much for Roma this season, but this goal was dripping with class.
We don't have an official CdT nickname for Perez yet, but we might as well call him “The Kid That Made Ünder Expendable” or TKTMÜE for short. In little more than an hour yesterday, Perez flashed the same athleticism, aggression and determination that has already made him a fan favorite. Perez pulled off two shots yesterday (one of which nearly scored), created one scoring chance, completed 92% of his passes, had two successful dribbles, drew two fouls and played one successful through ball.
Stats don't tell the entire TKTMÜE story against Brescia, but it's really, really, really starting to look like Roma found something here. He's quick, decisive, agile and seems suited to play out-wide and possibly even as a second striker, meaning he'll be able to weather all the storms in the capital.
We'll end it with The Kid for a myriad of reasons, but scratching and clawing his way back onto the pitch was praiseworthy in and of itself. Coming on in the 66th minute, Zaniolo immediately inserted himself into the action, putting two shots on target, including his first goal since December, and creating one scoring chance.
I was a little bit worried when he came back so quickly after tearing his ACL, but the gradual reintegration into the squad seems to be working—he's barely missed a beat.
Six saints from Roma's 3-0 victory. Doesn't get much better than that, right?