For the second-straight league match, Roma ran into an extremely energetic, extremely determined, and extremely aggressive club. Last weekend, the Giallorossi had the misfortune of facing Andrea Belotti and the rest of a relegation-battling Torino side. With their lives in the top flight at stake, the Toros pumped nearly 30 shots at Roma en route to a 3-1 victory. Atalanta is on the opposite end of the table, but Gian Piero Gasperini's men were no less motivated than their colleagues from Torino, and with 24 cracks at Pau López, they weren't exactly demure either.
However, unlike last weekend's defeat, Roma's defense was better at keeping up appearances, limiting the high-powered Atalanta attack to only one goal, though Atalanta certainly missed more than a few clear-cut chances—none more glaring than Luis Muriel's missed sitter in the second half.
The draw may have looked better on the scoreboard, but it did very little to aid Roma's climb up the table. In fact, they didn't move at all, remaining firmly entrenched in seventh place with only six matches remaining.
Unfortunately, there may not be much at stake in those six matches but they should still leave plenty of room for several players to lay claim to a bigger role next season while others still will be fighting for any role next season.
With that in mind, let's take a look at the men who seized the day yesterday and those who let it slip through their grasp.
We can summarize Pellegrini’s performance yesterday with one number: 23. As in the number of times he lost possession against Atalanta—the most of any man on the pitch. Throw in his poor passing performance (1-6 on crosses and 1-4 on long balls) and it wasn’t a banner day for Roma’s captain.
But he wasn't the only local kid who struggled against Atalanta.
Roma's young left-back didn't do anything particularly egregious yesterday, but after being unceremoniously yanked at half-time, it was clear that Calafiori wasn't offering enough down Roma's left flank yesterday. In 45 minutes against Atalanta, Calafiori took 43 touches and completed 77% of his passes but didn't register, or even attempt, a single successful cross or accurate long-ball.
Growing pains. We've all had them in our personal and professional lives and 18-year-old fullbacks with really cool, almost feathered hair are no different.
He'll be fine.
Another youngin’ with a rough day at the office, the 23-year-old Villar didn't do much to help a Roma midfield that struggled to forge a path through the Atalanta defense. In 75 minutes, Villar was crisp with his passes (92%) but not particularly incisive in any fashion: zero shots, zero key passes, zero dribbles, and only two tackles to speak of. Much like Calafiori, Villar's transgressions were more about complacency and ineffectiveness than anything else.
With two yellow cards and a late dismissal from the match, Ibañez didn't really do his compatriots any favors yesterday, particularly when you consider they were under duress from the word go. Ibañez managed five tackles yesterday but he also committed four fouls and lost possession 10 times.
With five tackles, including one last-man effort, four interceptions, one blocked shot, and two clearances, Mancini was a defensive dynamo yesterday. In addition to all that work behind the ball, Mancini completed 89% of his passes, completed five of six long passes, chipped in one key pass, and won 11 of 14 duels.
New contract? Yes, please.
Bryan Beckenbauer took another step in his transition from a he's-an-okay-midfielder-but-we-don’t-know-how-to-use-him to oh-my-god-is-he-secretly-a-defender yesterday. In 90 mostly sterling minutes at the Olimpico on Thursday, Cristante turned in a man-of-the-match performance with two successful dribbles, one shot (and one goal), one tackle, four interceptions, one clearance, and seven accurate long balls.
It will be interesting to see what Paulo Fonseca (or, you know, the man who replaces him) has in store for Cristante next season, but he's added another layer to his already diverse skillset this season.
If this is for Pau and Roma, he's going out on a high note. Much like Antonio Mirante against Torino last weekend, López faced a torrent of shots and made seven saves while completing 78% of his passes, including 10 long ball attempts. López didn't make any highlight-reel saves, but his positioning was above reproach and his rebound control was spot on. Unfortunately, there wasn't much he could do to prevent Atalanta's only goal but Lopez was up to snuff once again.
Stuck In Between
Jordan Veretout: He ran a lot but wasn't able to really influence the game as much as you'd like but Roma definitely needed his energy yesterday.
Rick Karsdorp: Two key passes highlighted what was otherwise a quiet afternoon for everyone's favorite resurgent Roma player.
Edin Dzeko: Some good play away from the ball, six shots, and three key passes but, much like Veretout and Karsdorp, his efforts didn't budge the scoreline either way.
Truth be told, Roma's entire performance was stuck in between yesterday, so let's hope for a more definitive result against Cagliari this weekend—to say nothing of Manchester United next Thursday.