There’s no doubting that Roma missed Lorenzo Pellegrini in this one. He’s the man who normally fills the number 10 role in Roma’s attacking midfield. And while Pellegrini was missed, it wasn’t his direct replacement (Mkhitaryan) who had the greatest influence in the attack.
It was actually Nicolo Zaniolo who finished the match with 10 creating actions. Shot-creating actions aren’t tracked by fbref.com for Conference League matches. However, Zaniolo’s 10 SCA in this match are double his five combined from his previous four Serie A starts this season. Additionally, two of those 10 led directly to goal-creating actions.
It wasn’t vintage pre-injury Zaniolo, but it was the most confident and energized than he’s looked so far this season. And considering the way many of Roma’s other stars failed to live up to the big lights of the derby, this was an encouraging performance for Nico to build on. He looked lively and motivated. Now let’s hope he isn’t suspended for the Empoli match for a little gesture he made toward Laziali at the end of the match.
The number of corner kicks Roma was awarded during the match. The Giallorossi attack wasn’t always as fluid or dangerous during open play as Jose Mourinho would like. However, Roma continues to be dangerous on set-pieces. Normally it’s been Pellegrini playing teammates in on goal with well-thought-out maneuvers on free kicks, but with Pellegrini out, Roma didn’t miss a beat on dead balls. This time around it was Jordan Veretout from the corner flag.
Veretout— already known for his precise shooting on penalties—was dropping dimes on corners that gave Lazio’s defense fits. One of Veretout’s corners assisted Roger Ibanez’s headed goal. In addition, Roma had multiple other chances started from Veretout’s corner kicks including Zaniolo’s header off the woodwork and a late Ibanez header saved by Reina.
The number four had quite a bit of significance in Sunday’s derby. To begin, Lazio’s main hitman, Ciro Immobile, may not have scored but he was more than a handful for Roma’s backline and proved he can contribute much more than goals. In the course of the match, Immobile had both four shot-creating actions and four goals creating actions. Three of those GCA led to actual goals.
Immobile killed Roma on the break as he created plenty of opportunities for his teammates. He was involved in all three goals, including earning the primary assists on Lazio’s second and third goals scored by Pedro and Felipe Andersen.
Four was also significant for Bryan Cristante in this match. Roma’s midfielder received his fourth yellow card in just six matches and now is just one caution away from an automatic one-match suspension. Cristante’s fouls leading to cards tend to be of the tactical variety, which brings into question his positioning.
It’s well known that Cristante isn’t a true defensive midfielder, so it isn’t a surprise that his positioning needs work. However, with Mourinho showing a lack of trust in players like Amadou Diawara and Gonzalo Villar, Cristante will continue to be Roma’s regular DM and will likely continue to pile up the yellows.
Six was the number of saves that Pepe Reina made against Roma in the match. The Giallorossi attempted far more shots than Lazio in the match (19 to 10) and peppered Reina’s goal more often than the Biancoceleste tested Rui Patricio (7 to 4). However, the veteran Spanish keeper may have been the biggest reason Lazio were able to hold on for all three points after running out to a 2-0 lead within 20 minutes.
Reina made six saves in the match and at least two jump to mind as big opportunities that Roma had to level the match after Veretout’s penalty cut the deficit to one. Reina robbed Zaniolo of what looked like the tying goal in the 73rd minute and made another big one on Shomurodov in the 81st. Plus, you could throw in a solid save on Veretout’s effort in the 26th minute to go along with three others.