Yesterday's three-nil thrashing of Lazio in the Derby della Capitale was perhaps the most dominant performance we've seen from Roma during the first year of the club's Mourinho Makeover; the type of performance we envisioned when the club shocked the footballing world by appointing The Special One last May. While it would have been unreasonable to expect the Giallorossi to show out like this every week, we may have finally caught a glimpse of Mourinho's end goal here: a compact, efficient, and aggressive side capable of dictating the terms of a match even when they're not controlling possession.
Thanks to the inspired play of Roma's midfield, some incredible forward runs from the wing-backs, and Tammy Abraham's torrid form, the Giallorossi put Lazio on the back heel from the first minute (literally) and seldom relented for the ensuing 93 minutes of action. Roma weren't exactly flawless, but they were damn close, keeping Lazio at arm's length for the entire match, seldom, if ever, giving their city rivals a glimmer of hope.
Given how thoroughly dominant the Giallorossi were yesterday, we're going to continue to bask in this feeling, stowing away our pitchforks for the time being. Onto the saints!
As a fan of alliteration in general, I'll admit that the moniker Tammy Two Goals sort of wrote itself, but thanks to yesterday's brace—his fifth of the season—it now feels more fitting than ever for the 24-year-old star striker. Playing the full 90 yesterday, Abraham was the very picture of efficiency, putting two of his three shots on target, converting each into goals. Apart from his work in front of goal, Abraham chipped in one key pass, won three aerial duels, and covered more than 10 kilometers on the pitch last night.
The other headline grabber, Roma's captain put in a Man of The Match performance of his own, ripping off three shots on goal (though only one on target), chipping in two key passes, completing 79% of all his passes, winning three tackles, intercepting one pass, pulling off four successful dribbles (from five attempts) and scoring one of the best free-kick goals you'll ever see.
The master of many languages is no slouch with a ball at his feet either—but you already knew that. In 90 minutes last night, Mkhitaryan was up to his usual tricks, guiding Mourinho's attack with the precision of a Swiss watchmaker. Taking 46 touches, Mkhitaryan completed nearly 82% of his passes, set up one scoring chance, hit on two-of-two long balls, fired two shots on goal, completed three of four dribble attempts, and added two clearances, two tackles, and one interception for good measure.
Let's get this guy a new two-year deal and let him end his European career in Rome.
Roma's right-back continues to shake off the rust as the doom and gloom of winter gives way to the renewed optimism that so often accompanies spring. Playing each and every minute last night, Karsdorp turned in a quietly effective evening at the Olimpico, clearing three balls, winning one tackle, drawing two fouls, and setting up Abraham's second goal with a textbook overlap and cross to the near post. Tiago Pinto still has to find this guy a proper backup, but 2021-2022 has been Karsdorp's finest season in the capital to date.
Seldom one to self-promote, Chris Smalling can sometimes go unnoticed, but make no mistake, he was excellent last night. In 90 minutes, Smalldini anchored Roma's backline with five clearances, two interceptions, and three duels won (from three attempts) while completing 85% of his passes.
Pressed into service once again as a makeshift left wing-back, the 20-year-old responded with another incredibly impressive run. In 74 minutes, the young Polish winger more than held his own and was pivotal in keeping Maurizio Sarri's attack at bay, racking up a match-high seven tackles while adding two interceptions, six recoveries and nine duels won. We haven't seen many of his attacking plaudits on display yet, but Zalewski is fast becoming an intriguing part of Roma's latest project.
He wasn't called on too often, but he was up to the task at every turn, denying Ciro Immobile a would-be consolation goal in the second half, dropping to the ground to deny the league's leading scorer in the blink of an eye.
While none of the men in red warranted any pitchforks after yesterday's stunning derby domination, there were more than a few faces stuck in between.
Stuck In Between
- Bryan Cristante: He provided one key pass, cleared two balls, and added two tackles to the mix but was dribbled past a match-high three times. None of it mattered in the end, of course, but he wasn't exactly at his best last night.
- Roger Ibañez: While he made a couple of well-timed defensive plays, Ibañez's up and down 2022 continued yesterday, as he cleared three balls and blocked two shots but nearly gifted Lazio a goal (or at least a clean look) after inadvertently turning the ball over deep in Roma's final third.
- Sérgio Oliveira: Another fine performance from the Portuguese midfielder, who seems to be rounding back into form following a brief dip. He hasn't yet recreated the dizzying highs of his first few appearances in a Roma shirt, but he's reminding us all of exactly what he is: a steady presence in Roma's midfield.
- Gianluca Mancini: On any other day, he's probably the lone sinner here, but his transgressions didn't affect Roma's bottom line yesterday, so we'll let it slide.
- Matías Viña: A brief 16-minute cameo with nothing to write home about either way.
- Jordan Veretout: JV only received a nine-minute run last night, taking only five touches in the process.
- Edoardo Bove: A late sub for captain Pellegrini, Bove managed four touches in three minutes.
With Roma heading out on an international break, S&S will follow suit. We'll see you back here after the Sampdoria match on April 3rd.