Yesterday's match in Firenze was a lesson in the value of focus. Thanks to several injuries to both sides, a VAR review, and the usual Serie A shenanigans, yesterday's match lasted nearly 100 minutes—100 interminable and exhausting minutes. Whether they were attacking down the left, the right, or through the center, neither side was able to find much success. And it's not as if Paulo Fonseca or Cesare Prandelli had orchestrated some defensive masterclass either; the match was simply that dull and that uninspired.
But if you were able to sift through the dregs of this match, you were rewarded with two moments of brilliance. Two moments that looked as if they were torn from the same page of the Fonseca Football® New Employee Training Manual: start on the edge of the box, switch play to the other edge, track the ball, make your run towards the far post and meet the cross before the keeper can close out the post. Leonardo Spinazzola and Amadou Diawara each stuck to this script, and it worked to perfection.
This brings us back to the original point: focus. Those two sequences—which included maybe six or seven combined passes and lasted, what, eight actual seconds—proved to be the difference in yesterday's match. Roma kept their wits about them, Fiorentina did not and that was the difference between victory and defeat—those two fleeting moments.
Considering the lack of action in yesterday's match, it wouldn't really be fair to include any sinners in today's breakdown, but limbo is looking pretty crowded this morning, but let's start on a bright note first, shall we?
I'm sure Roma's 23-year-old Guinean midfielder has had better matches in a Roma shirt, but you'd be hard-pressed to recall a finer offensive performance than yesterday's. In 90 minutes, Diawara turned in a man-of-the-match performance, taking three shots (two on target), completing one successful dribble, one successful tackle, five interceptions, six duels won, completing 84% of his passes and, of course, scoring an 88th-minute match-winner.
Getting this kind of Diawara performance down the stretch could mean the difference between Champions League success and languishing in the Europa League next year.
The second name on our list owes the first a huge debt of gratitude for bailing him out after his egregious own goal in the 60th minute. To his credit, Spinazzola took it all in stride, taking to Instagram to celebrate his “first brace.”
If this match ended 1-1 and Roma dropped two crucial points, Spinazzola definitely wouldn’t be wearing a halo today, but outside of his gaffe, Spinazzola was solid all-around yesterday. In addition to his opening goal, which required a tremendous amount of skill, Spinazzola compiled one keypass, four duels, two dribbles, three clearances and went 2-for-7 on crosses and 3-for-5 on longball passes.
We avoided the obscene errors yesterday—though he did have a few clumsy touches outside of the box—but Lopez was otherwise spectacular, managing two saves in the box (including a great diving effort to deny Dusan Vlahovic), and four successful high claims.
Stuck In Between
Bruno Peres: Two key passes, two dribbles, and 2-for-3 on longball attempts. He stuffed the stat sheet, but were you overwhelmed by anything he did yesterday?
Bryan Cristante: The birthday boy didn't stuff the stat sheet, but he proved once again that he has what it takes to serve as Roma's de facto libero, completing 86% of his passes, including 7 of 15 longball attempts. Cristante also chipped in two ground duels, two clearances and one tackle.
Borja Mayoral: He wasn't really poor enough to be a sinner, but outside of one on-target shot and one keypass, he was once again pretty ineffective.
Let's hope for a cleaner win and more halos on Sunday against Genoa.