Yesterday's Round 21 fixture between Juventus and AS Roma was one of those contests where, if you looked only at the stat sheets, you would have assumed Roma wiped the floor with Juventus. Between their higher possession rate, taking four times as many shots as Juve, and winning more corners, aerials, tackles, and dribbles than the Old Lady, Roma held numerical sway over Juventus. And even the advanced stats, which weren't quite as unbalanced as the traditional numbers, still painted Roma as narrow victors.
But, as well all know, games aren't decided on paper; there's a reason they're played on the pitch after all. And in yesterday's match, Juventus made the most of their scant opportunities on goal, making Roma pay for their minor defensive miscues, while Paulo Fonseca’s bunch struggled to find any effective space behind Juve's compact defense.
As you may have guessed from the somewhat ominous tone of the first two paragraphs, we're not passing out any halos after yesterday's defeat.
I'm a bit conflicted on this selection. On the one hand, the precedent has been set: you can do absolutely nothing wrong for 99% of your shift, but if you give away a goal, draw a red card, slap Gianluca Lapadula in the face, blaspheme, or make any kind of egregious mental mistake, all of your good deeds are rendered moot and you're a sinner. But, on the other hand, Ibañez's own goal was—not acceptable or excusable—but at least explainable.
Ibañez likely didn't see Gianluca Mancini behind him when he made a play on the ball, but had he done nothing and just let it run through, Cristiano Ronaldo, who had a step and a half on Mancini, was right there and likely would have had an easy tap-in goal.
I had an old baseball coach who was fond of saying that he could tolerate physical errors but not mental mistakes—you had to pay for those ones with laps or extra fielding practice. In my eyes, Ibañez's heart and mind were in the right place, but his actual attempt to deflect the ball was awful.
This is a tough one but, even setting this error aside, Ibañez is in a bit of a funk at the moment.
Roma's captain for the day didn't have any glaring Ibañez-like errors, but as the ostensible creator in midfield, Cristante simply didn't cut the mustard yesterday. In 62 minutes yesterday, Cristante managed little more than going 4-4 on long-ball attempts: no key passes, no on-target shots, and no successful dribbles.
He wasn't exactly terrible yesterday but he didn't really aid Roma's cause either.
Stuck In Between
Roma's first-half MVP played all 90 minutes yesterday and was responsible for three of Roma's fourteen shots on goal. He also chipped in one keypass, pulled off two successful dribbles, and intercepted three passes. Mkhitaryan was solid all-around yesterday, and undoubtedly Roma's best-attacking player, but it simply wasn't enough.
Mancini, who now appears to be third in Roma's captaincy line, was the Mkhitaryan of the backline: solid but a bit underwhelming considering the outcome of the match. Mancini won four aerials and three tackles yesterday, while also attempting two shots and completing one successful dribble. No real complaints, but we can't give either of these guys a halo in a 2-0 defeat.
Here's to better days. Roma have a slightly easier task next week when they host 15th place Udinese, so let's hope for more halos next weekend.