The old cliche “a tale of two halves” certainly applied to Sunday’s match at the Estadio Arechi for Roma’s attack. In the first, it was the same old story as last season: a tightly packed defense stifled Roma’s attack despite the Giallorossi dominating possession. It felt like Roma might struggle to break down the Salernitana defense, as the passing wasn’t quick enough and the looks at goal just weren’t there during the first stanza.
However, once Roma broke the deadlock early in the second half behind Lorenzo Pellegrini and Jordan Veretout scoring in quick succession, there was no doubt that Roma would be on its way to another win. It was just a matter of how many the Giallorossi would put into the back of Salernitana’s net. In the end, it was a quartet of goals for Roma, but it certainly could’ve been more had it not been for a few solid saves from Vid Belec in the Granata goal.
With this kind of performance, there’s little to complain about as the good times are rolling under Jose Mourinho early in the season. So, with that in mind, let’s take a look at whose halos shined the brightest in Roma’s 4-0 thumping of the Serie A new boys.
Oh captain, my captain. The Roma skipper led by example in Salerno on Sunday as he put in a man-of-the-match performance. As I said in the last episode of Across the Romaverse, Pellegrini will never be Francesco Totti or Daniele De Rossi, but that shouldn’t be a reason for him to draw the ire of some Romanisti because he’s a heck of a player in his own right.
Pellegrini broke the deadlock early in the second half by blasting the ball through Belec’s hands from a tough angle. However, a lovely first touch to give himself an angle to shoot on goal was the true highlight of the play. The goal was vital for the Giallorossi as it unlocked what was a compact Salernitana defense.
Then Pellegrini outdid himself with an even nicer second goal to secure his brace and put the cherry on top of Roma’s 4-0 victory. It was a beautiful curling effort from Pellegrini who now has three goals in his last two matches. The Roma captain looks to be taking his game to the next level under Mourinho.
Abraham put in another impressive performance at the striker position for the Giallorossi as he continues to make Edin Dzeko a distant memory. Abraham was active throughout as Roma looked to unlock Salernitana’s backline. He would eventually find his first Roma goal on a hard hit curler that blasted the inside of the left post before careening into the back of the net. It was a moment of pure ecstasy for Abraham as he celebrated in front of the visiting fans.
But, that wasn’t Abraham’s only involvement in the goal-scoring. It was his deft touch that opened up the play on Roma’s second goal when he laid the ball off to Henrikh Mkhitaryan before the Armenian assisted Jordan Veretout. Abraham has been very impressive in his first three matches with the Giallorossi and is showing the fans why Tiago Pinto was willing to splash the cash to get him to the Italian capital.
Pellegrini isn’t the only Roma midfielder with a nose for goal early in the season. After scoring a brace last weekend against Fiorentina, Veretout continued to punish Serie A defenses again this weekend. Veretout put the exclamation point on what was a lovely team goal for the Giallorossi when he timed his run perfectly before slotting it home past Belec.
It was the kind of goal Roma would’ve killed for last season with Carles Pérez finding Abraham with his back to goal who laid it off to Mkhi who slipped it to Veretout making the late run. If Veretout continues to time his runs like he has the last two weeks, he will be a nightmare for opposing defenses this season.
Roma was without Nicolo Zaniolo due to red card suspension in this one, but Pérez filled in valiantly for the Giallorossi. Pérez was active throughout as he looked to find cracks in the Salernitana defense. He was credited with the assist on Abraham’s goal, but he did so much more than that. Pérez completed 92.1% of his passes (the second-best percentage in the side) en route to whipping in four accurate long balls and four key passes. The Spaniard also led the side with two successful dribbles. With more performances like this, Pérez could give Mourinho a viable change up to Mkhi and Zaniolo on the wings without the attack losing its bite.
Part of me really wanted to give the final halo to Mkhi, but I decided to go in a different direction and spread the love. Matías Viña and Rick Karsdorp have drawn some criticism over the first few matches of the 2021-22 campaign. However, the two were much more heavily involved in Roma’s attacking phase in this one.
Viña set the tone early when he forced a save from Belec in the first few minutes of the match. The Uruguayan also provided the assist on Pellegrini’s opening goal and led the team with three interceptions.
For his part, Karsdorp had over 100 touches with four key passes and five out of six accurate long balls. It has to be said, the two didn’t have much need to worry about defending in this one, but it was encouraging to see them more involved than they had been in Roma’s build-up play.
Sinners & Saints will return after the international break when Roma squares off against Sassuolo.