The passing percentage of Roma as a team in Sunday’s match against Empoli.
The victory over Aurelio Andreazzoli’s side was the first Serie A match of the season that the Giallorossi has achieved a 90% completion percentage or higher as a team. In the match, the Giallorossi attempted 645 passes and completed 581 of them.
It’s an impressive number that can be attributed to a few factors, one being the way Empoli approached the match and the quality of Empoli compared to some other league opponents. Roma was allowed to control more possession than in all of their other matches with the exception of the Salerntiana victory. The Giallorossi were afforded more time on the ball as Empoli pressed with less gusto than some of the more aggressive sides, giving Roma’s players time to find open players attacking open spaces. And of course, much like they did against Salernitana, Roma carved up this newly promoted Empoli side.
However, it’s important to note that Roma didn’t just drive up its passing percentage with short passes between the center backs. Roma’s passing was particularly precise on medium-range attempts (between 15 and 30 yards), as the side completed 211 of 229 such attempts (95.3%).
This stat will ebb and flow based on Roma and its opponents' respective approaches, as well as the quality of opposition. Nevertheless, any time a team can complete more than 90% overall, the day will likely end with three points.
Roma’s passes into the final third of the pitch.
Just as Roma achieved a season-high passing percentage, the number of passes Roma completed into the final third in this match was also a season-high. The Giallorossi may not have scored as much as they have during other matches this season, but this stat speaks to the amount of time they spent in the Empoli half of the pitch, continuously probing the Empoli defense for holes until they finally found a breakthrough.
The team leader in this area was Lorenzo Pellegrini with 11, followed by Jordan Veretout with eight. This was Pellegrini’s highest output of the season and speaks to his development as a player overall this season, as well as being one of Roma’s most influential attacking players. Comparing matches is sometimes like comparing apples to oranges, but one wonders how much Pellegrini’s absence cost Roma last week against Lazio.
The number of times Tammy Abraham (all comps) and Roma (league matches) have hit the woodwork this season.
No Roma player is as snake bitten when it comes to hitting the woodwork as Tammy Abraham this season. In a lighthearted Tweet after the match, Abraham even called for the removal of the post and crossbar after striking the post prior to Henrikh Mkhitaryan scoring Roma’s second goal.
It’s certainly been an unlucky start for Abraham, who scored four times in all competitions. That number could easily be close to double figures considering the six times he’s hit the woodwork. There is a silver lining to this stat, as it suggests that Abraham is taking plenty of quality shots—eventually, you’d think that luck will turn.
The interesting thing is, Abraham’s shot off the crossbar was Roma’s sixth off the woodwork in the league this season. That follows a trend that’s seen the Giallorossi lead the league in times hitting the woodwork since the 2016-17 season with 109. Napoli is next with 106.
So, if you ever feel like Roma hits a lot of posts, it’s because they do.
The number of progressive yards Nicolo Zaniolo carried the ball in the match.
In the last couple of weeks, Nicolo Zaniolo has started to look like the player we remember before his two ACL surgeries in as many seasons. He really seemed to find an extra level in the Lazio match and that was evident again against Empoli.
One of Zaniolo’s best traits as a footballer is his ability to dribble at, around, through, and past defenders. His speed and physicality with the ball at his feet make Zaniolo a force of nature once he gets moving. In the first few matches, we saw a Zaniolo that was a bit tentative to go full throttle.
That no longer looks to be the case and Roma is reaping the benefits. Zaniolo hasn’t scored yet in Serie A, but his 331 progressive yards dribbled shows that he’s bringing an element to Roma’s game that it lacked nearly all last season. Full-back Leo Spinazzola carried the ball plenty, but he’s now out injured, and even he doesn’t do it in the same way as Nico. If he continues to dribble progressively like in this match, one of those gut-busting runs will eventually turn into a goal off of Zaniolo’s boot.