Roma went into this match facing the collective loss of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Jordan Veretout, and Chris Smalling to injury in recent games. That left us with the question: Who would take responsibility for Roma’s transition play today? The answer was no one (though Edin Dzeko tried).
The opening exchanges brought about a Lorenzo Pellegrini chance on the edge of the area that was ballooned over the bar, thanks to a distracting (and reckless) tackle attempt by a Parma defender at Pellegrini’s ankles. However, the replay showed minimal contact, if any at all, and Lorenzo Pellegrini deciding to go down screaming in melodrama only increased the referee’s resolve to let the game play on. From that moment on, Parma showed they could not only live with but outdo Roma.
The 9th minute of the match saw Parma execute their opening goal to perfection, in a textbook play of how to exploit the weaknesses of a three-man defense.
A long ball from Parma keeper Luigi Sepe put Parma’s frontline at a numbers advantage against the Roma backline, which itself was caught out with both Giallorossi fullbacks advanced up the pitch. From that point on, you could pick and mix which Roma player you choose to blame for defending, but Parma deserves full credit for their goal; not to mention their performance from there on in.
Instead of sitting back and defending a 1-0 lead, Parma chose to get up in Roma’s faces whenever the Giallorossi were found laboring over their build-up play. The technical superiority of players like Mancini, Ibanez, and Villar was meant to be able to overcome such a challenge, but instead, Roma were found wanting and struggled without transition-genius Mkhitaryan there to conduct affairs for them. Whatever spirit Roma managed to conjure up for the second half was immediately canceled out by Parma going up the other end, in the 55th minute, and winning a dubious penalty call.
The call itself was technically correct, but it seemed to be given more for intention rather than the minimal contact of Ibanez’s foot on Graziano Pelle. If so, then you have to question why a penalty wasn’t given to Roma, in the first half, for reckless intent from Parma’s defender. But Roma will leave this match with bigger questions in hand: Is this team really mature enough to finish out a top four campaign at the business end of the season?