In typical Roma Happened fashion, the Giallorossi followed up the elation of last week's upset victory over Atalanta with a clunky performance against lowly Sampdoria, who entered this round 19 fixture only nine points clear from the drop. Needless to say, yesterday's 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico was a tremendous disappointment for Roma fans everywhere, particularly since the club's old nemeses (shot accuracy and finishing) took center stage last night.
However, it's not all doom and gloom as we bid farewell to the first half of the season. Even with yesterday's draw, Roma remains just six points behind that very same Atalanta side for Italy's final Champions League place. So, despite Wednesday's disappointment, Roma are in good shape; inconsistent as all get out, sure, but still in decent shape for what will surely be a photo finish for Italy's final European places.
So, without further delay, let's run through the highs and lows from yesterday's draw against Sampdoria.
He didn't make a mark on the scoreboard, but Zaniolo was instrumental in nearly everything Roma achieved in the attacking end last night: three shots, one key pass, four dribbles, three fouls drawn, and a perfect two-for-two long passes. And he did all this while being pressured 68% of the time he received the ball (tied with Francesco Caputo for the match lead) and covering over 12 kilometers on the pitch.
The Kid is coming along nicely. There will surely be more dips to come, but physically speaking, there aren't many defenders who can stop Zaniolo from doing as he pleases.
Roma's other burgeoning star shone brightly last night as well. In 90 minutes, Ibañez had four tackles (match-high), two interceptions, two clearances, won seven of nine duels, made nine recoveries and hit on six of nine long passes. Despite all that, it was a strangely quiet evening for the 23-year-old, proving once again that excellent performances like these somehow feel mundane because, well, it's just what we expect from him now.
His ceiling is through the roof, which is an odd way to construct a building, but not a bad blueprint for a world-conquering center-back.
The recently minted French international is in fine form as Roma closes the book on 2021. In 67 minutes, JV completed 81% of his passes, including three key passes, four accurate crosses (from seven attempts), and intercepted one pass while also playing a couple of nice corners into the box.
The Flying Dutchman lived up to that name last night, averaging a match-high 33.21 km/h while sprinting, indicating, once again, that he's as much horse as human. Apart from his blazing speed, Karsdorp did a little bit of everything last night: Three tackles, two interceptions, one key pass, six crosses attempted (two completed), and three duels won (out of five).
If Tiago Pinto can find a suitable backup for Karsdorp this winter, it'll go a long way to making performances like these the norm.
Shomurodov wasn't particularly effective in any one area last night and failed to properly mark Fabio Quagliarella (who essentially created the chance by flicking the ball into the middle) on Samp's goal, but there's no denying it: on an otherwise dreary night for Roma's offense, Shomurodov scored a sensational goal to give the Giallorossi the lead in the 72nd minute.
The quality of his goal wasn't so much in the final attempt but in the sheer amount of concentration, close control, and self-belief it took to fight through two blocked shots and a possible handball before peeling away from the defenders to create enough space to even attempt a shot, much less beat Falcone.
Roma's bench players don't get many chances, but Shomurdov seized his when it mattered most.
Stephan El Shaarawy
In his first match back from injury, El Shaarawy struggled mightily. Coming on in the 66th minute, SES managed only one shot on goal; a horrendously off-target attempt after Zaniolo was upended by Falcone that could have changed the outcome of the match. And that was really that. He only took 28 touches, didn't attempt a single dribble, and completed 75% of his passes.
We'll cut Abraham some slack here, as he was noticeably bothered by his right ankle, but Roma's number nine missed both of his shot attempts, one of which was deemed a big chance by SofaScore, and completed only 56% of his passes.
It was a disappointing performance considering his torrid run, but he'll be completely fine. Don't lose any sleep over his 46-minute injury-riddled run.
He didn't commit any game-changing errors (inadvertent or otherwise) last night, so let's consider that progress. Despite covering a game-high 12.45 km, Cristante failed to make an impression against Sampdoria. He completed 84% of his passes and chipped in two tackles, but he was also dribbled past twice—tied for the most in the match.
Stuck In Between
- Gianluca Mancini: A pretty non-descript evening from Roma's vice-captain, but he completed an incredible 13 of 19 long balls, played 13 into the final third, and covered nearly 11 kilometers. Tell me again why he isn't a defensive midfielder?
- Chris Smalling: Completed 89% of his passes, intercepted one ball, and made two tackles but was also dribbled past twice. He did far more to aid Roma's cause than harm it, however.
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan: Two shots, one key pass, one dribble, one interception, and one tackle while playing 10 balls into the final third. Pretty solid all around.
- Matías Viña: Another ho-hum evening for the young full-back, Viña completed 79% of his passes and registered one block, one interception, and one tackle.
- Felix Afena-Gyan: An unexpected early appearance for the darling of the Olimpico resulted in 23 touches, two shots (one on target), one tackle, and a perfect eight-for-eight passing the ball.
- Rui Patricio: Roma's veteran keeper wasn't called on much last night, facing only two on-target attempts, while there wasn’t much he could do on Gabbiadini's tap-in off a corner.
Picks to Click Revisited
We resurrected our new series yesterday, and, well, the results were not kind. Our predictions fell almost completely flat.
- Tammy Abraham (Did not click)
- Stephan El Shaarawy (Did not click)
- Gianluca Mancini (So-so)
- Matías Viña (So-so)
That's a wrap on the final S&S for 2021, let us know how we did and we'll see you back here after the new year!