Yesterday's 1-0 victory over Bologna wasn't a ringing endorsement for Fonseca Football®, nor for the sport itself, but it proved once again that Roma can win ugly when necessary. As we pointed out in the post-match highlights, despite the lack of fireworks Paulo Fonseca still managed a unique feat, playing ugly, pragmatic football for large swaths of the match before flipping the switch in the second half, bringing on his regulars and then showcasing the triangulated, free-flowing football we all love.
Fonseca aficionados will claim he’s been capable of this all along and that this adaptability is precisely what makes him a top manager in the making, while skeptics might argue that this was too little too late, though it makes for a hell of an audition tape for his next potential gig.
But that's a matter for another day. So, come with us as we parse the sinners from the saints in yesterday's ugly and probably undeserved victory over Siniša Mihajlović's plucky Bologna side.
Roma's veteran Spanish winger chipped in three key passes yesterday but the 33-year-old's 2021 struggles continued through another week. From four goals and one assist in his first 10 matches to only one goal and one assist since November 8, 2020, Pedro has looked more like a liability than the missing piece he was earlier in the season.
His sinful ways against Bologna are a bit hard to precisely quantify (or qualify, for that matter) but this is yet another instance where we're forced to rely on feelings; as unfair as that might be. Whether it was the misplaced passes or the head-down dribbles into a crowd of defenders in the box, something just seems off with Pedro lately.
The prizes this season have long since disappeared, but with two years remaining on his deal, Fonseca needs to find Pedro's sweet spot, whether that's as a late match sub, a tutor for the young players or merely fodder for less important matches like these.
See? This is what Ibañez is capable of when he's not hunting yellow cards for 90 minutes. Ibañez managed two tackles, one interception, three clearances and won six duels in his defensive duties yesterday while also firing two shots on goal, completing one dribble and going 7-13 on long passes.
Ibañez's partner and captain for the day, Gianluca Mancini, was no less instrumental in Roma's clean sheet victory yesterday. In 90 minutes, Mancini had one tackle, four interceptions, one clearance, won three aerials and completed 80% of his passes.
We've seen more prolific performances from Mayoral this season, but with three shots on goal, one key pass, one successful dribble and the game's only goal, Borja was arguably Roma's most effective attacker yesterday. His sense of timing, presence of mind and touch on his goal was superb and turned an ugly draw into a surprising victory.
Peres' Roma swansong continues to hit all the right notes. In 90 minutes yesterday, the 31-year-old Brazilian wing-back fired one well-placed shot at Lukasz Skorupski, chipped in one keypass, drew one foul and completed four successful dribbles. Defensively, Peres picked off two passes, had one clearance and won five ground duels.
Stuck In Between
We're going to alter this section to give a little love to two seldom seen players
Bryan Reynolds: After fending off Juventus for his signature, Roma have been patient with the 19-year-old Texan, biding their time through passport/visa issues and the usual acclimation period for a teenager making the leap to a bigger league. While he looked tentative yesterday, Reynolds made a few well-placed passes and definitely looks the part of a dynamic, disruptive, two-way full-back. If Roma can continue to exercise patience with this kid, we may have something special on our hands.
Javier Pastore: Love him or hate him, you have to give El Flaco credit. After wading through another string of injuries, including hip surgery this past summer, Pastore has battled injuries, fatigue, fans’ indifference (to put it mildly) and even rumors of club seeking to cancel his contract to return to the pitch. And sure, he managed only 10 minutes on the pitch but he nearly played Rick Karsdorp through to goal almost immediately.
That's all for now. See you on Thursday when we'll hopefully have something to celebrate.