While there are still nine matchdays remaining on the 2020-2021 Serie A calendar, yesterday's 2-2 draw against Sassuolo felt like the unofficial end to Roma's season, if not Paulo Fonseca's tenure as the Giallorossi's manager. Roma did well to withstand Sassuolo's surprisingly aggressive attack early in the match, bending but not breaking, and did well to create chances of their own. However, with a slim 2-1 lead to defend late in the match, Roma let up just enough to let Sassuolo creep back into the match, falling victim to Giacomo Raspadori's 85th-minute equalizer.
It was a disappointing end to a match Roma had in their grasp, but when you consider how well Sassuolo played at both ends of the pitch, a draw was probably the just result. Considering that, we're a little light on the saints today and heavy and ambiguity.
If this is truly it for Peres at Roma, he's going out with a bang. In 90 minutes yesterday, Peres scored Roma's only goal from the run of play, he completed two dribbles, drew two fouls, had two successful tackles, and completed 90% of his passes. Roma never really saw the Torino version of Bruno Peres, but at least he's leaving us with better memories than his first few seasons in the capital.
Roma's other scorer, Lorenzo Pellegrini put in a solid shift against his former babysitters. In 90 minutes, the local boy put two of three shots on target, converted a penalty in the first half, drew three fouls, completed three of four long passes, and picked off five passes in his defensive duties. His first-half penalty—his 5th league goal overall—makes Pellegrini the youngest midfielder in the league with at least five goals and five assists.
2020-2021 may be a lost season for Roma, but when we look back on his career, we'll likely judge this as his true breakout. Pellegrini has had a few intermittent dips but he's been neck and neck with Henrikh Mkhitaryan as Roma's best player this season.
Roma's much-maligned keeper turned in another impressive performance yesterday, making four saves in the box, including one outstanding fingertip save, and while he didn't keep a clean sheet, there wasn't much he could have done on either Sassuolo goal.
With injuries to Roger Ibañez, Chris Smalling, and Marash Kumbulla (and Fonseca's complete aversion to playing Federico Fazio and Juan Jesus), Karsdorp was unexpectedly pressed into service as a center-back yesterday, so we'll cut him a bit of slack. But, having said that, he wasn't great against Sassuolo, doing little more than clearing two balls while his positioning was suspect multiple times.
Despite all that, you have to respect Karsdorp's effort yesterday, especially since he accepted this role on such short notice—you really can't say enough positive things about this kid; his turnaround this year has been miraculous.
No asterisk for dear old Bryan, I'm afraid. While he was also playing out of position, he's logged enough time at center-back this season to do better than this. Cristante was a Lopez save away from gifting Sassuolo a goal early in the first half, and while he completed six of ten long passes, he was otherwise absent yesterday.
Stuck In Between
Stephan El Shaarawy: Statistically speaking, SES was outstanding but we can't really justify the halo when he missed a one-v-one against Consigli. It wasn't exactly an open goal, but El Shaarawy's indecisiveness ultimately cost him a goal, one that, as it turned out, would have won the match.
It's easy to forget how little El Shaarawy has played the past two years and it still looks like he's trying to find his sea legs, so I suspect we won't see the real El Shaarawy until next season.
Carles Pérez: In only his third league start of the year, Pérez flashes his best traits: agility, dribbling, and aggression. Pérez put two of three shots on target and drew the penalty that led to Roma's first goal.
Leonardo Spinazzola: Two key passes and one assist on Peres’ goal to go along with four dribbles. Not a bad afternoon at work, right?
That's it for this week's S&S. See you on Thursday. Hopefully with better news!