If you gave me a list of the top three TV-related reasons to get out of bed on a Sunday morning, this match result wouldn't rank high in theory. Roma and Genoa carried out a 95+ minute procession to a smooth 1-0 win for the home side but, if that sounds uninspiring, we should say this was a performance where Roma gave important answers to some season-long questions.
Can you break open a cagey game with set-piece efficiency? Roma ticked that box early in the first half, when Lorenzo Pellegrini sent in a high, 24th minute, looping corner met by a leaping Gianluca Mancini in the box. Up until the opening goal, Roma had chosen to stand off of Genoa; likely a reflection of Paulo Fonseca’s pre-match sentiment that Genoa wouldn’t sit back, but instead choose to play up high and try to take on Roma. The truth fell somewhere in between.
By the second half, it was mostly a battling Kevin Strootman that still had his heart in taking the fight to Roma, because that’s just how Strootman plays every single game of his career. But the rest of the Genoa play faded among Mattia Destro getting relieved of playing duties by Chris Smalling, and Roma frustrating the life out of Genoa’s play in general. Which brought us to our second-season long doubt: Can you control play and see out a one-goal lead to victory?
Amid five Roma substitutions made (including subbing off Mayoral for Fazio in the 87th minute), the home side killed the game off with Juventus-like efficiency. There was no panic, nerves, or hell-for-leather chasing down loose balls from Roma, either. Genoa were reduced to three shots in the final 20 minutes of the game (which made up half of their total shots over 90 minutes), all from outside the box, and all efforts either wildly off-target or blocked by Roma.
There was no way through this Giallorosso wall today, exemplified by Chris Smalling’s five interceptions and four clearances. The end result? No goals from open play but three points in the bag, and the kind of performance where no one had to exert a lot of energy before the mid-week European fixture against Shakhtar.
Did we just see a Roma team whose wins you can set your watch by? What a strange Sunday feeling, indeed.