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Sinners & Saints: Napoli vs. Roma

A few bright spots from an otherwise disappointing trip to Napoli.

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

It's tough to glean any positives from a club that’s dropped three straight matches since Serie A restarted late last month (and six out of their last ten league fixtures), but there were several stretches yesterday in which Roma didn't look completely lost, and dare I say, they looked kind of dangerous. While I don't think the change of formation was as effective as Paulo Fonseca had hoped for, it certainly put multiple players in better positions to succeed than in the prior three matches.

But, we're still talking about the club's third loss on the trot, so there won't be many halos to pass around on this Monday morning.

Let's get the dregs out of the way before we focus on the positives.

The Sinners

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Matteo Ciambelli/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Jordan Veretout

The man can run like a deer and has lungs for days, but yesterday was not a banner performance for the 27-year-old midfielder. In 90 minutes, Veretout’s legs were as advertised—relentless. His 12.13 kilometres run were the second highest mark in the match, but he provided little substance beyond that impressive feat of endurance. Veretout lost possession seven times (second most among all midfielders yesterday), committed two fouls, had only one successful tackle and was dribbled past four times.

On the bright side, he did hit on four of seven long-balls. but Veretout was rather ineffective yesterday against Napoli. He's had some bouts of inconsistency this season, but his endurance and energy will continue to be valued assets down the stretch.

Federico Fazio

We'll have to cut Federico some slack as he wasn't even supposed to play in this match, but as a sub you always have to be ready when called upon, and Fazio wasn't up to snuff yesterday. After coming on for Chris Smalling in the 29th minute, Fazio was rather inert in his defensive duties, amassing only one tackle (though he had five clearances—a match high), getting dribbled past twice and losing possession once. On the surface, those numbers aren’t particularly egregious, but the capper was his inadvertent assist to Lorenzo Insigne on the match winner—you can't explain that away.

As much as I love my maybe distant cousin, Fazio hasn't been up to par in 2020. He had some great fixtures to start the season, but he's been too erratic to be counted upon lately.

Justin Kluivert

While I loved the subtle work he did on Henrikh Mkhitaryan's goal—pulling away the last defender to give Micki extra space to shoot—Kluivert was little more than a warm body in his 65 minutes yesterday, attempting zero shots, zero successful dribbles and taking only 15 touches.

He'll have better days, but yesterday was not one of them.

There were some other clunkers yesterday (Lorenzo Pellegrini, Gianluca Mancini and Davide Zappacosta) but for the sake of brevity, we'll stop here.

Onto the saints!

The Saints

SSC Napoli v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Francesco Pecoraro/Getty Images

Henrikh Mkhitaryan

It's been a good week for Mkhitaryan. After working out a deal to remain with Roma this season and beyond, Mkhitaryan was one of the few effective men in lightning bolts yesterday. Going the full 90, Micki completed 90% of his passes, had one key pass, hit on three of three long-balls and scored Roma's lone goal in their 2-1 defeat.

Roma have struggled mightily lately, but when good things happen to them, Mkhitaryan tends to be involved.

Pau Lopez

As Roma fans, I think we're still coming to grips with how to properly judge keepers in our post-Alisson world. Lopez can't hold a candle to the Brazilian Don Draper, but he's a capable shot stopper and yesterday was no exception. Lopez made eight saves yesterday (each of them in the box) and was pretty much left in the lurch on Napoli's two goals (the first was a bang-bang play, the second caused by a Fazio error).

Roma will likely be sellers this summer and Lopez has already seen his name in a few transfer rumors, so his days in the capital may be numbered already but yesterday was a showcase of Lopez's positioning, reflexes and shot stopping.

Leonardo Spinazzola

With a little more room to run yesterday, Spinazzola seemed to enjoy his new found tactical freedom. In 90 minutes, Spinazzola had one key pass, completed 50% of his crosses, two successful dribbles and was equally as active on the defensive end, to the tune of two tackles and two interceptions.

It was far from a perfect performance (he lost possession a match high 16 times) but for a guy likely fighting for his place in the lineup next season, it was a step in the right direction.

These weren't the brightest halos we've ever passed out, but you have to focus on the positives in times like these, right?