That was a pretty deflating match to watch. The Giallorossi were the only side intent on playing something resembling football today, as Sampdoria committed to playing a joylessly defensive tactic. That boring style of football combined with the fifth goal in five matches for Manolo Gabiaddini canceled out Eldor Shomurodov’s 72nd-minute goal, giving each side from this match one point.
The look of excitement on Sampdoria manager Robert D’Aversa’s face following the end of the match was just another indicator that his club came into the game playing for a draw. Roma needs to do better in match environments when this is the case because it’s matches against the minnows that separate Champions League sides from Europa League and Europa Conference League sides. Still, you have to wonder if the scoreline might have been different if Tammy Abraham hadn’t had to leave the match with an injury right before the start of the second half.
On the bright side, we saw encouraging performances from Felix Afena-Gyan, Nicolò Zaniolo, and the goal-scoring Eldor Shomurodov. The match result may not have been what any Romanista wanted, but from my perspective, the pieces of the Giallorossi puzzle seem to still be coming together, and making the right signings in January could be the difference-maker for a side that is constantly struggling with a lack of rotational pieces.
After the Christmas break, Jose Mourinho’s men will face AC Milan, Juventus, and giant-killers Empoli in quick succession; they’ll have to do far better than they did today to maintain pressure on Atalanta, Juventus, and Napoli for that fourth place spot in a long-term sense.
Here are the highlights from the match (extended version): be sure to sound off in the comments about this underwhelming and hard-to-watch closeout of 2021.