I’m going to be real with you all and say that these league losses are starting to blur together. Sure, Roma showed more signs of life against Cagliari than they have against other clubs in recent weeks, but we’re not here to give out participation trophies. We’re here to give out some sainthoods and some sinner... hoods.
There’s no denying that Gonzalo Villar has a lot of promise as a midfielder; at the age of 23, he’s already turned himself into a key cog in Roma’s midfield rotation. Even so, there’s no doubt that the Spaniard turned in one of his worst appearances for the Giallorossi against Cagliari. To put it simply, Gonzalo looks mentally done with the season, putting in a shift that was completely forgettable; when Roma needed an offensive spark he provided none. This is only Villar’s first full season of top-flight football, so maybe I should cut him a bit more slack. I won’t, though, because I know what Villar is capable of on his best day.
It’s never a good sign when the match recap describes your goalkeeper as “helpless”, and the fact that a Getty photographer captured the image above of Roma’s starting goalkeeper pretty much sealed Pau’s fate as a sinner for the week. Sure, Cagliari had a good number of chances that weren’t Lopez’s fault directly, but the Giallorossi should be able to feel comfortable starting a €23.5 million goalie against a minnow. That Lopez let in three goals, individual mistakes by defenders notwithstanding, means that he once again didn’t rise to the occasion. Let’s just hope he can put in a decent shift against Manchester United.
Mancini was certainly busy yesterday, to the tune of 113 touches and three attempts on goal, but that hustle and bustle didn’t translate to the defensive end where Mancini didn't register a single tackle, block, or interception. Ordinarily, we may be able to accept that but Mancini committed a glaring error to set up a Cagliari goal when his errant pass led to Marin's goal.
If there was one player who seemed to be trying to will Roma to a victory, it was Carles Perez. He may not be long for the Capitoline club after a rather underwhelming season, but his goal against Cagliari only scratches the surface of what he brought to the table. With his fellow Spaniard Borja Mayoral looking practically invisible, Perez was one of the few offensive bright spots for the Giallorossi, and even if you credit Lorenzo Pellegrini for the bulk of the work leading up to Perez’s 27th-minute goal, years of watching strikers miss chances handed to them on a silver platter by Francesco Totti have taught me that no chance is good enough to guarantee a goal.
Stuck In Between
Yeah, Federico Fazio scored a goal that nearly got Roma back to the races against Cagliari, but he was also a member of the defense that allowed Charalampos Lykogiannis (a name I managed to type properly on the first try) to score within five minutes of the game starting. Anyone who contributes to me nearly turning off the match before I can finish making my cappuccino can’t get full sainthood, it’s in the rulebook. Beyond the general leakiness of the Giallorossi defense, though, Fazio put in a serviceable 90 minutes, if you understand his role.
Fazio is clearly the fourth center-back for a manager who starts three center-backs, and he’s clearly past his prime, so I’m not expecting Fazio to be the second coming of Juan Silveira dos Santos. Hopefully, the Giallorossi can one day be at full strength again; I’m not counting on it happening in my lifetime. Until that day comes, it will be crucial for players like Fazio to step up when called upon. He wasn’t perfect against Cagliari, but he did a far better job than some players who are consistent starters.
The Giallorossi face Manchester United in the first leg of the Europa League semifinal this Thursday. We can only hope that a couple more players qualify for sainthood after that match.