There isn't much we can say to make you feel better about Roma's performance against Bodø/Glimt in yesterday's Europa Conference League matchup, but hey, look at it this way: Roma conceded 67% fewer goals than last time! Despite that small face-saving measure, it's hard to paint last night's 2-2 draw as anything other than a disappointment for the Giallorossi. Their Conference League hopes aren't dashed yet, but for a club that once looked like a lock to at least make the final, Roma suddenly finds themselves facing a must-win against Zorya on November 25th.
After two dispiriting matches against a club that was previously an afterthought on paper, you'd be forgiven if you simply washed your hands of the Europa Conference League entirely, but that's neither here nor there, so let's separate the sinners from the saints!
There is still plenty to love about this kid and his potential, but he squandered a golden opportunity to cement his place in Mourinho's rotation yesterday. In 45 mostly forgettable minutes, Bodø exposed Darboe for what he is: a talented but sometimes overmatched 20-year-old midfielder. Playing only one half, Darboe was frequently overrun and outmuscled by Bodø, who limited him to only one tackle and three successful duels, while also dribbling past the hapless Darboe twice.
Better days lay ahead for Darboe, but Mourinho's quick hook doesn't bode well for his immediate chances at significant playing time.
In another 45-minute no-show performance, Roma’s 32-year-old veteran midfielder failed to make his mark. Outside of his beautifully struck long-ball to Nicolo Zaniolo in the game’s earliest moments, Mkhitaryan was nowhere to be found: only one dribble, zero shots, zero key passes, zero crosses...zero impact.
This series is largely numbers-based, which can sometimes make it difficult to correctly categorize a goalkeeper, but Patricio wasn’t up to snuff yesterday. From his lax rebound control on Bodø’s first attempt to his errant goal kick that eventually led to Ola Solbakken’s 45th-minute goal to his delayed reaction on Erik Botheim’s 65th-minute goal (though being unmarked certainly didn’t help Patricio’s cause), Patricio had a rough evening for Roma.
Sadly, our pick to click faltered last night at the Olimpico. While Karsdorp had no issues getting forward, his crossing left a lot to be desired, as he completed only three of 10 attempts. In a match that was screaming for his services, he came up just short, though he still managed to chip in two key passes, so it wasn't a complete loss. Nevertheless, you can't escape the feeling that his grasp on the job is only as strong as Tiago Pinto's current transfer imaginations.
Stephan El Shaarawy
With the play-by-play announcer calling him Steven, you would have thought Roma's #92 was some obscure rookie rather than a ten-year veteran, but SES turned in a vintage performance in the club's draw against Bodø. El Shaarawy menaced the Norwegian club for 88 minutes last night, winning four of seven duels, firing six shots on goal, pulling off one dribble, and completing 70% of his passes while scoring the club's first goal, and barely missing a second by a matter of inches.
Given Mkhitaryan's current slump, don't be shocked to see an uptick in El Shaarawy's minutes.
Despite taking an early blow to his shin, Veretout was, well, Veretout yesterday: passing, moving, running and tackling like a mad man. Going the full 90 last night, Veretout completed 81% of his passes, won four of six duels, chipped in two tackles and three interceptions while also providing three key passes and hitting on five of seven long-balls.
Playing out of position at left-back, the young Brazilian turned in another stellar performance in Roman red and yellow. In addition to scoring the 84th-minute equalizer, Ibañez completed 87% of his passes, including 50% of his long-balls, while clearing three balls in the defensive end and picking off one more.
Despite missing one big chance and manhandling Bodø keeper Nikita Haikin like a toddler throwing a fit at Toys R Us (back when they existed), Cristante availed himself quite well as Roma's ball-playing center-back. In 90 minutes last night, the 26-year-old completed 87% of his passes, including an astounding 17...SEVENTEEN...accurate long balls (off 22 attempts), while taking a match-high 97 touches. Defensively, Cristante managed two clearances and two blocked shots while winning three of four duels.
While we wouldn't quite say “he's back”, Villar reminded us all what he's capable of last night. A surprising second-half sub, Villar came on for the ineffective Ebrima Darboe to start the second half and did not disappoint. In 45 minutes, Villar flashed the same poise and close control that made many Roma fans drool last season, completing 89% of his passes, setting up two shots, and completing one successful dribble while hitting on three of four long balls. Add in his two duels and one tackle and Villar packed 90 minutes of work into a half-shift.
Villar has to fit into this Roma puzzle somehow, somewhere. He’s simply too talented to ignore.
Stuck In Between
This category, a late addition to the series last year, is reserved specifically for players who neither stood out nor held Roma back. And never has a player personified this category more than the first man up on today's list...
- Tammy Abraham: While he failed to directly influence the game yesterday (zero shots on-target, two blocked), he did some small things well (88% pass completion, two duels won), but was let down by his teammates, who either completely ignored him in the box (Zaniolo) or just couldn't complete a cross intended for him (Karsdorp). Abraham was visibly frustrated by his lack of action, and for good reason: In 81 minutes, he only took 17 touches; Shomurodov had 13 in only 24 minutes.
- Nicolo Zaniolo: Roma may have won this match if Zaniolo squared that ball to Abraham in the first half, but Zaniolo atoned for that transgression by firing an assist to El Shaarawy in the second half. He still had three key passes but was a bit careless with the ball and lacked his usual aggression.
- Borja Mayoral: Hey, you gotta give it to the kid. Ignored for the entire match (and season), Borja was remarkably effective in his nine minutes: One key pass, one accurate cross, and one assist...and all with only four touches. He's a likable player and I hope he finds a club that needs him asap; he's too good to be dismissed this completely.
- Carles Pérez: Not quite as maligned as Mayoral, Pérez's role is slowly increasing as we head into November. In 45 minutes, Pérez completed 80% of his passes and completed two of three dribbles while adding one interception and one tackle in for good measure.
- Gianluca Mancini: Did really well passing (13-18 on longballs) and intercepted three passes but was otherwise middle of the road.
Picks to Click Revisited
Oof, we really took it on the chin this time—by far the worst edition of our new series where we guess which players will thrive in a given game.
- Riccardo Calafiori (Didnt even play!)
- Gianluca Mancini (So-so)
- Tammy Abraham (So-so)
- Rick Karsdorp (Did not click)
Until next time...