We have been able to glean some positives away from Roma's recent performances—the plucky scoreless draw against Napoli and the second half come back against Cagliari come to mind—but with the club in an apparent free fall (only one win in their past seven matches in all competitions), we can safely say that José Mourinho's honeymoon period is over. What started off brilliantly with six consecutive victories and plenty of eye-catching football has withered down to our current mess: a team struggling for results and an identity, both of which were on display yesterday in beautiful Venice.
Roma did exceptionally well not to hang their heads after conceding in only the third minute, holding steady before striking back with two quick goals before the halftime whistle. But their resolve was soon tested when Venezia equalized via a 65th-minute penalty call on Bryan Cristante, which set the stage for David Okereke’s 74th-minute match-winner; a one-v-one in which the Nigerian striker shook Rui Patricio free from his moorings with clever little stutter step—and that was all she wrote.
Sure, there were chances for Roma to equalize down the stretch, but Mourinho’s men couldn't close the deal, limping off the pitch in a defeat that dropped them all the way down to sixth place on the Serie A table.
And after another uneven match, our Sinners & Saints are equally askew.
Karsdorp is an interesting case study. As we mentioned several weeks ago, the time cloaking his struggles as remnants of his injury history is over, so what should we make of his current issues? Is he an above-average player going through a rough patch, or is this really who he is: a talented but volatile player prone to wild swings in performance?
Yesterday did little to aid the former, as Karsdorp struggled mightily against Venezia, failing to achieve more than one shot on goal. In 90 minutes, Karsdorp had only one tackle, got dribbled past twice, completed only 68% of his passes, and went 1-2 on crosses, which is fine from a percentage standpoint, but a week after pumping 10 crosses into the box, Karsdorp seemed to take a different approach last night—and it didn't work.
You have to keep reminding yourself that this kid is only 21-years-old, but, much like Karsdorp and his injury history, that excuse will only hold water for so long. In 65 mostly forgettable minutes against Venezia yesterday, Kumbulla was bullied off the ball by Okereke and contributed only one interception to Roma’s defensive cause. He did complete 91% of his passes and won three of four duels, but those hardly take the stink off his performance, and with Roma desperately hunting a match-winner in the second half, he was quickly and unceremoniously yanked in favor of Carles Pérez.
After getting a short reprieve against Bodø midweek due to lingering inflammation in his left knee, Pellegrini was no worse for the wear yesterday. Playing every single minute against Venezia, Pellegrini was masterful, firing three shots on goal (two on target), pulling off two successful dribbles, completing 84% of his passes (including 80% of his long passes and 47% of his crosses), chipping in three tackles, drawing six fouls and, perhaps most impressive of all, eight key passes.
Making his first start since September 30th against Zorya in the Conference League, Shomurodov did a bit of everything in attack yesterday. In 90 minutes, the 26-year-old took two shots on goal, scored Roma's second goal, and chipped in four key passes, including two big chances created and one assist. Something tells me he'll be a bigger piece of the puzzle after the international break.
Just a few days after their €45 million man was limited to 17 touches against Bodø, the young English striker was front and center for the Giallorossi yesterday. In 90 minutes, Abraham was far more involved, taking 36 touches, firing seven shots on goal (three on target) while providing one key pass and completing one successful dribble.
While that's all well and good, Roma didn't drop forty-five large for Abraham to play decoy; he needs to score. So you can imagine the sense of relief when Abraham found the back of the net in the 45th minute, his first goal since September 30th against Zorya.
Time will tell whether or not that goal launches Abraham into a torrid run of form, but for a club seemingly in the throes of an identity crisis, getting your €45 million man involved is a good place to start.
Stephan El Shaarawy
Are we witnessing a resurrection in real-time? After spending the first few months of the season as an auxiliary piece, the Pharaoh is finding new life week-by-week. Making his second consecutive start, El Shaarawy turned in a remarkably effective 76 minute stretch against Venezia, pumping four shots on goal (three on target) while providing three key passes and completing two successful dribbles. SES also completed 85% of his passes and won three of four duels.
Stuck In Between
As always, these players showed out in some areas but struggled in others, neither lifting nor dragging Roma down.
- Bryan Cristante: Three shots (zero on target), one key pass, two dribbles, three tackles, two interceptions; a busy day but conceding a penalty ultimately cost Roma a precious point on the table.
- Roger Ibañez: A rather quiet day for the young center-back, as he only contributed two clearances, one interception, and one tackle to the Roma cause.
- Rui Patricio: Two genuinely excellent saves down the stretch prevented Venezia's fourth goal, but he wasn't up to task on Caldara's early goal.
- Jordan Veretout: Two shots (zero on target) and a perfect 4-4 on long balls but otherwise failed to truly influence the match.
- Gianluca Mancini: Two tackles, one interception, and three clearances. Not bad at all, but after conceding three goals to a club that only scored eight all season long, you won't find any halos on Roma's defense.
- Carles Pérez: He seems to be gaining Mourinho's trust little by little (at least as a change of pace sub) but he didn't do much to move the needle yesterday: two shots and 87% passing.
- Nicolo Zaniolo/Nicola Zalewski/Borja Mayoral: Not enough minutes to impact the match in any significant way.
Picks to Clicks Revisited
A few days after taking one on the chin in our Bodø predictions, we turned in a bit of a mixed bag this time around.
- Gonzalo Villar (DNP)
- Roger Ibañez (So-So)
- Lorenzo Pellegrini (Clicked)
- Bryan Cristante (So-So)
Sinners & Saints will take a brief hiatus with the international break descending upon us, but we'll see you back here after Roma's road trip to Genoa on the 21st.