As I said in the match preview, the Giallorossi were going to have to find another gear that had eluded them for months if they planned on winning yesterday’s Derby Della Capitale. Surprisingly, they seemed to find that gear with ease, overpowering Lazio and looking like the side Romanisti were hoping they would be at the start of this season.
Of course, there are certain factors at play here, including it being Paulo Fonseca’s last match for Roma at the Stadio Olimpico, that gave this match even more significance to the squad than a typical Derby. Since this tie already carries enough significance to fill the Colosseum, that’s no small feat, and as per usual, a 2-0 win means we’re only handing out sainthoods the day after.
Even if he didn’t add to his record-breaking goal tally for i Lupi, Edin Džeko handed in a man-of-the-match tier performance against Lazio. The Roma legend practically created the Giallorossi’s first goal out of thin air, dribbling between two Biancocelesti players until the pitch was just about to end, then setting up a perfect goalscoring chance for Henrikh Mkhitaryan. I’ve seen Džeko create goals for others, of course; that aspect of his game is often underrated compared to his goalscoring prowess for himself, but it’s certainly there. Nevertheless, I don’t think I’ve seen him assist a goal quite like this before.
Even without that pivotal assist, it was easy to see that Džeko was at the top of his game against Lazio. He showed once again why it’s great to have him be the focal point of your offense, at least when that offense is ticking. There are some rumblings that this may have been Edin Džeko’s last home match at the Stadio Olimpico (although rumors are also hinting that José Mourinho has plans for the Bosnian Bomber). If this was Džeko’s last home match for the Giallorossi, he certainly went out on top.
While some are suggesting that Edin Džeko’s time in Rome might be drawing to a close, it certainly looks like Ebrima Darboe’s time with the Giallorossi has only just begun. The Gambian teenager played like a man possessed in his first Derby, completing 96% of his passes, three successful tackles, and two dribbles. The name of Darboe’s game so far at the senior level has been calm, never seeming to put a foot wrong on the pitch and providing speed and technique that might start making some of the other young midfielders in Rome worry for their long-term employment here.
After the match, Paulo Fonseca lauded Darboe’s performance in the Derby as well as his overall showing since receiving call-ups to the senior side, saying:
I think we improved (recently) with the arrival of Darboe. He is young, with such courage, always looking forward and he helped the whole team to improve by changing the balance. The system change made a difference, but to be perfectly honest, this young lad made the difference too. It’s rare to find someone so young who is so confident and calm on the ball.
High praise from Roma’s outgoing manager, and if we assume that José Mourinho has been watching the last matches of Roma’s 2020/2021 season, you have to imagine he’s intrigued by the prospect of transforming Darboe into a superstar midfielder. The building blocks are all there.
Honestly, this is the most surprising sainthood I’ve written in a while. No offense to Daniel, but I never would have imagined that he could put in a good performance, let alone a great one, in a match as critical as the Derby Della Capitale. Yet that’s exactly what he did on Saturday, racking up a 7.9 rating on WhoScored after saving four shots and generally frustrating what little offensive juice Lazio could muster against the Giallorossi. It’s impressive for a young goalkeeper to keep a clean sheet in any situation. Keeping a clean sheet against the likes of Ciro Immobile, Luis Alberto, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic despite very little top-flight experience? In a derby? That’s downright incredible.
I’m not a psychohistorian like Hari Seldon in the Foundation series, and I don’t believe in astrology, so I have absolutely no clue where Fuzato’s story is going in the long term. I always thought his ceiling was most likely solid backup at a club like Roma, but if the Brazilian can put together performances like this on a regular basis, Roma might already have a long-term solution at goalkeeper in-house. Given all of our griping about Pau Lopez and Antonio Mirante in recent seasons, that would certainly be... something.
One more S&S to go. Check back after Spezia for the final player ratings of the season!