After certain matches, the kind where Roma stumbles through 90% of the match but miraculously falls upon a match-winning header or a deflection or a debatable penalty kick, the common refrain is “a win is a win is a win.” It's an odd platitude, but it makes a certain amount of sense. As long as you get three points, does the nature of the victory really matter?
With Roma falling 2-0 to 19th place Parma, yesterday was not one of those “certain matches” but the inverse carries just as much weight. If a win is a win, then a loss is a loss. But...let's be real, yesterday's defeat was all about fatigue. We can't explain away the defeat—it was ugly no matter the cause—but there's no denying that Roma was lacking their usual vigor yesterday at the Stadio Tardini.
Still, in spite of that, there were a few noteworthy performances, so let's sort the sinners from the saints, shall we?
We'll call Villar's performance yesterday a sin of omission. The mop-topped Spaniard didn't do anything particularly horrible yesterday, but he was far from effective. In 78 minutes, Villar had zero shots on goal, zero key passes, zero aerials won, zero dribbles attempted or completed, zero tackles, zero...you get the picture. Apart from completing three of six long-ball passes, Villar did practically nothing to aid Roma's cause yesterday, and even his usual precise passing was off the mark (85% compared to his season rate of 90%).
Stephan El Shaarawy
As a charter member of the SES fan club, this one pains me. But in his second league start since returning to Roma, El Shaarawy had more than a spot of bother against the Crusaders of Parma. While he generated Roma's best chance of the match—his curled effort at the right post—the Pharaoh was otherwise pretty wasteful with the ball, firing three shots off-target, completing only 70% of his passes and losing possession 19 times, the most of any outfield player on either club. To put that in context, El Shaarawy managed only 52 touches yesterday, meaning he coughed up the ball 37% of the time he had it—not great, Bob!
I'm not sure how, when, or where they happened but the stat sheets tell me that Kumbulla had two key passes yesterday. Who knew? Kumbulla played only 58 minutes yesterday, and while his passing was crisp (97%), he was a bit derelict in his defensive duties, intercepting only one pass and blocking one shot; no tackles or clearances to speak of. But Kumbulla's afternoon could best be captured by one image: Dennis Man streaking past him on the right flank to set up Parma's 9th-minute match-winner.
Roger was a little bit better than Kumbulla yesterday, particularly with the ball at his feet, but his second-half penalty—whether you agree with the call or not—showed poor judgment from the 22-year-old. You just can't go into a challenge that heavy in the penalty area, particularly not from behind the attacker.
Okay, that's enough doom and gloom for one morning.
Are you starting to see why Manchester United and all the usual titans of the footballing industry are starting to sniff around Roma's 24-year-old bruising but beautiful center-back?
In 90 minutes yesterday, Mancini had two attempts on goal, one key pass, five aerials won, three successful dribbles, one tackle, three interceptions, and 10 total duels won.
I think it's quite promising that Mancini's past few appearances on this list have boasted just as many attacking achievements as they have defensive statistics; he really is becoming an all-encompassing defender.
(But yes, he probably could have--and should have--put forth a bit more effort on Parma's opening goal but he was hardly the main culprit.)
Riccardo Calafiori was on the bench and Roma have two more matches this week, so it was a tad surprising to see Spinazzola last all 90 minutes, but he was once again fantastic for Roma, providing most of the Giallorossi's offensive inspiration yesterday. Spinazzola rattled off four key passes, completed five of nine crosses, three of four long balls, and ripped off nine...count ‘em...nine successful dribbles.
Roma will be fighting tooth and nail every step of the way through May and a healthy and energized Spinazzola will be crucial to Roma's top-four hopes.
Stuck In Between
Edin Dzeko: Six shots (two on-target), two key passes, and three aerials won in his return to the starting lineup. Had he converted that first attempt from Mancini perhaps the afternoon would have turned out differently, but Dzeko was solid enough in his first league start in nine matchdays.
Lorenzo Pellegrini: Three shots, two key passes, one dribble, one tackle, and five crosses completed. Not bad but not nearly enough to win the day.
With two matches this week, one of which is in Ukraine, Roma will find it tough to rest and rotate—better stock up on Gatorade, fellas.