There was a certain amount of symmetry between Roma's men's and women's matches yesterday. In both instances, Roma were facing opponents who gave them fits in the first fixtures, and in both instances, the capital club proved to be the superior side the second (or third) time around. After struggling to handle Florentia in an early December league fixture—a bitter 1-1 draw where Roma conceded a late equalizer—Roma ran roughshod over Florentia in their two-legged Coppa Italia quarterfinal series, walloping them by a 10-1 aggregate scoreline to advance to the semifinals where they'll face Juventus.
For the men, they ran it back against Udinese in their Round 22 fixture yesterday afternoon. And rather than eeking out a 1-0 victory as they did in the fall, Paulo Fonseca's crew left no room for doubt, putting Udinese on the back heel after only five minutes, cruising to an eventual 3-0 victory.
So, as we always do, let's take a look at the sinners & saints from yesterday's victory over Udinese.
Roma's 24-year-old center-back continued his breakout season yesterday, turning in 90 exemplary minutes against Udinese yesterday. Mancini took 73 touches, completed 90% of his passes, 50% of his crosses, 50% of his long balls, picked off three passes, completed two successful dribbles, and provided a beautiful assist on Jordan Veretout's fifth-minute goal.
The Giallorossi defense hasn't been without its struggles this season, but Mancini has been remarkably consistent and seems to be peaking as Roma heads into the meaty part of the schedule.
With two more goals to his tally, Veretout (15) is now the club's highest-scoring Frenchman ever in league play, surpassing Vincent Candela (14). Yesterday wasn't Veretout's finest appearance in a Roma shirt but with three shots (all on-target), one key pass, two tackles, a great headed goal, and another penalty, Veretout put the Giallorossi over the top on Sunday afternoon.
Roma's first-half MVP was up to his usual tricks yesterday. Going the full 90, Mkhitaryan was a menace with the ball at this feet, to the tune of six successful dribbles, two shots and 80% passing.
Ibañez has been more volatile than Gamestop stock over the past few weeks, but yesterday he reminded us all of the vast potential resting in those 22-year-old legs. While Ibañez was troubled by an early knock to his left knee, it didn't affect his performance. With four tackles, three clearances, and six ground duels won, Ibañez was his usual suffocating self in defense, but with an eye-popping seven long-balls completed and 91% passing, he was practically the second coming of Franz Beckenbauer against Udinese.
He'll still have bouts of inconsistency, but we're witnessing the slow rise of the game's next great defender.
He wasn't tested much yesterday (Udinese only had one on-target attempt) but made an excellent one-armed drop save on Gerard Deulofeu after a Bryan Cristante turnover gave the Spanish forward a one-v-one against his compatriot in goal.