Yesterday on All Hallows Eve, the Stadio Olimpico was full of tricks and not many treats for Roma. It was the last chance in October for the Giallorossi to knock off a top side after failing to do so the previous two weekends against Juventus and Napoli. In this one, unlike the last two, Roma was outplayed for much of the match until Theo Hernandez was sent off.
It was a humbling match for the Giallorossi in which referee Fabio Maresca will have many fingers pointed his way. However, despite the complaints from Mourinho, the players, and many Romanisti, Roma was outplayed by the Rossoneri, especially 40-year-old Zlatan Ibrahimovic. And in the process, nobody truly shined for the home team. So, don’t expect many halos in this edition of sinners and saints.
Stephan El Shaarawy
I was tempted to give out no halos in this one, but it’s hard to fault Il Faraone for the 62 minutes of garbage before he was on the pitch. The ex-Milan man was a bit fortunate to enter the fray right before Hernandez was sent off, but he did make the most of his half-hour of burn. El Shaarawy scored Roma’s lone goal and had another shot on target. I’ll stand by my probable formations and say Mourinho should’ve started him.
Mkhitaryan was the one regular starter in question heading into this match, not because of any physical ailment, but because of lackluster recent performances. Yet José Mourinho stuck with the veteran Armenian instead of El Shaarawy. In the end, this ended up being a poor decision on Mourinho’s part and Mkhitaryan was pulled at halftime for youngster Felix Afena-Gyan. Mkhitaryan completed just 69.2% of his passes in his time on the pitch.
Like Mkhitaryan, Karsdorp was subpar in his passing in this match with just 74.1% of his passes being completed. However, that’s not the main reason the Dutchman makes today’s sinners list. Karsdorp fouled Rafael Leao just outside Roma’s penalty area in the 24th minute. That foul set up the free-kick that was converted by Zlatan Ibrahimovic that gave Milan a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
Abraham brings so much to the table since his arrival from Chelsea. But, the 24-year-old striker now has just two goals in the league for the Giallorossi and never threatened against Milan. Granted he was starved of service for much of the 62 minutes that he was on the pitch, but just 18 touches and 3 unsuccessful touches are far from enough of an impact from one of Roma’s most important players.
Mourinho may have vented about a lack of respect in this one (without naming the referees). Sure an argument could be made about some of Maresca’s decisions in this one. Nevertheless, Roma never felt like it was in this match. One has to ask questions about the Giallorossi’s counter-attacking approach in this one, as they were unable to threaten Ciprian Tataransu’s net at all in the first half. Plus, the decision to start Mkhitaryan over El Shaaraway was questionable, as was the decision to hold out Eldor until the 79th minute.
Stuck In Between
These guys toed the line between sinner and saint in yesterday’s loss against Milan.
- Lorenzo Pellegrini: The Roma skipper gave his all in this one, but was again unable to make a decisive impact against a top side. The good: five shots, four key passes, and 3-4 accurate long balls. The bad: 0 shots on target, 75% completion percentage, dispossessed 4 times, and 4 unsuccessful touches. The will was there, but the end product wasn’t for the Roma skipper.
- Nicolo Zaniolo: Zaniolo worked hard and willingly took on the Milan defense throughout. Zaniolo completed 94.1% of his passes and completed 6 dribbles. However, he also had five unsuccessful touches. The youngster was visibly frustrated throughout the match though and couldn’t replicate his past goalscoring success against Milan.
- Roger Ibanez: Some would put Ibanez on the sinners list for giving away the PK to Zlatan. However, that penalty was somewhat controversial and the Brazilian packed the stat sheet throughout the match. Ibanez had four clearances, three tackles, two interceptions, was 4/7 on long balls and completed 90% of his passes. He also led the side with 77 touches.
Picks to Click Revisited
Our new series, in which we tab a few select players as those most likely to excel in any given match, continued yesterday, so let’s see how bren did in his third stab at it.
- Lorenzo Pellegrini (so-so)
- Nicolo Zaniolo (so-so)
- Stephan El Shaarawy (Clicked in limited minutes)
- Rui Patricio (eh)
We’ll give bren a 1.5/4 for SES’s goal and stuck in between performances for the other two Italians.
Let’s hope our saints lists are a lot longer this week against Bodø at home and Venezia away.