Trading the rain-soaked sod of the Stadio Olimpico for the sun-drenched turf at the Stadio Ezio Scida in Calabria, Roma turned in 90 equally cheery minutes of football in their 3-1 victory over last-place Crotone. While they didn't pour in as many goals as we probably expected, by building up a three-nil lead after only 35 minutes, Roma made quick and light work of Crotone, sending the Sharks to their third loss in their last four matches.
So, as you might expect given the gulf in class between the two clubs, not to mention the results, it's all sunshine and rainbows in our day after Sinners & Saints review.
We'll lead things off with the hero of the day, the young Spaniard who had a hand in all three goals: scoring two and drawing the penalty that preceded the third. With 84 fantastic minutes yesterday, Mayoral might be forcing Fonseca's hand, giving the Man from Mozambique cause to play Mayoral and Dzeko together.
In 84 minutes, Mayoral had three shots, two goals, one key pass, and one dribble while completing 83% of his passes. While the level of the opponent must be considered, it was an undeniably impressive performance from Mayoral, who looked completely at ease working with Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Carles Pérez.
Seriously? What else can be said? No...honestly, I ran out of superlatives for Mkhitaryan weeks ago! By setting up Mayoral's first goal and then converting the PK in the 35th minute, Mkhitaryan pushed his Serie A season totals to eight goals and a league-leading seven assists.
In addition to his goal contributions, Mkhitaryan completed 84% of his passes, completed three of four long-balls, went a perfect one for one on crosses, and even threw in two interceptions and two tackles for good measure.
If you're searching for Roma's first-half MVP, look no further.
Another man testing the limits of my vocabulary, Ibañez continued to impress with his suffocating defensive play. In 90 minutes, Ibañez managed two clearances, two interceptions, five tackles, three aerials, six ground duels, and completed 94% of his passes. Crotone didn't test him often, but when they did, he was up to the task—to say the least.
Man, oh, man. This kid is LEGIT. In addition to his usual understated brilliance, Villar stuffed the stat sheet yesterday. Dig these numbers: 89 touches, 97% passing, five passes into the final third, two successful dribbles (out of two), three interceptions, five tackles, five-of-six long-balls, 11 duels won, four fouls drawn...and he did all that while covering 11.6 km, second-most in the match.
Give him a new contract. Lock him up and throw away the key. Do whatever you have to do, Roma. Just don't let this kid go.
We'll end with Roma's whipping boy turned miracle worker. What a season it’s been for Cristante, who finally seems to be settling into a defensive/hybrid midfield role after spending the past few years chasing the ghosts of his days as an attacker with Atalanta. In 79 minutes, Cristante took 59 touches, completed 72% of his passes, set up four shots, completed two tackles, and assisted on Mayoral's second goal.
It would have been exciting if Roma pumped five or six past Crotone yesterday, but thanks to their resolute performance and Sampdoria's shocking win over Inter, Roma suddenly has a chance to lay claim to second place if they topple Antonio Conte and Inter this weekend.