Some might call yesterday's 1-0 win over Atalanta a Mourinho masterclass, except, well, he wasn't there. But the Giallorossi's performance had all the hallmarks of a classic Mourinho takedown: hard-scrambled defending, swift and efficient counter-attacking, and more grinta than you can shake a stick at. Roma may not have put on a flawless and entertaining display of attacking football, but they fought for every 50/50 ball, ever contested header, every loose ball, and every blade of grass, making damn sure Atalanta wouldn't outwork them on their home ground.
And it worked like gangbusters as Roma held the mighty Atalanta attack to a measly seven shots and withstood a late onslaught in stoppage time to preserve the hard-fought victory, completing their season sweep over the Goddesses.
Despite the lack of goals, there were plenty of standouts from the men in red last night, so let's get straight down to business.
No, Tammy Two Goals didn't notch another brace last night, but by steering home the ball in the 32nd minute—his 20th goal in all competitions—Abraham proved to be the difference-maker in Roma's 1-0 win over Atalanta. All told, Abraham fired two shots on goal, chipped in one key pass, completed three of four dribbles attempts, hit on two of two long passes, and played five balls into the final third; the third-highest mark in the match.
Tammy has received a lot of praise for his goal-scoring prowess, and rightly so, but he's so much more than just a mere finisher.
Roma's other star in the making wasn't showing any lingering effects from his nasal/facial injuries, setting up Abraham's goal with a stunning touch-settle-turn move after receiving a dime from Rick Karsdorp (more on him in a second). But more than just playing Abraham into space, Zaniolo was a menace last night, firing three shots on goal (two on target), while adding one key pass, three successful dribbles, four fouls drawn, and was second to only Henrikh Mkhitaryan in carries and progressive carries.
After suffering through a dry spell earlier this year, Karsdorp has found new life as winter slowly exits the scene. In addition to his hockey assist on Abrahams's goal—a jaw-dropping long ball from beyond midfield—Karsdorp completed 75% of his passes, including one key pass, seven long balls, five balls into the final third, three into the penalty area, and a club-high seven progressive passes and 374 yards of progressive distance.
Behind the ball, Karsdorp was just as sharp, adding four tackles, three clearances, and winning five of seven duels.
Another surprise start for the 20-year-old produced another solid performance. In 61 minutes, Zalewski completed 81% of his passes, won seven of eight duels, went a perfect three-for-three on dribble attempts, chipped in one key pass, picked off three passes, and completed one tackle. Zalewski was also incredibly aggressive with the ball at his feet, racking up 117 yards in progressive carries, the second-highest mark among Roma players.
Roma's captain had a relatively quiet night—at least in terms of highlight-worthy contributions—but with 90% passing, two key passes, one big chance created, 60% long passing, and four shot-creating actions, Pellegrini was as integral as ever to Roma's attacking success.
2022 is shaping up to be a banner year for Roma's 22-year-old Albanian center-back. After basically spending the first half of the season in Mourinho's dog house, Kumbulla has come out the other side a more confident and polished defender. Playing the entire match yesterday, Kumbulla put on a defensive masterclass, clearing two balls, blocking one shot, intercepting two passes, and winning five tackles.
Kumbulla also completed 90% of his passes, including three of four long attempts, while accumulating 612 total yards, the third-highest mark among Roma players.
While he wasn't called into action too often, Patricio managed four saves, including two in the box, while keeping a clean sheet and amassing 284 yards in progressive passing distance, second to only Rick Karsdorp.
Absent any glaring errors or boneheaded plays, and since Roma's worst performances came from the late subs who averaged only 13.5 minutes on the pitch, we'll forgo the sinners today and wrap this up with a whole lot of stuck in between.
Stuck In Between
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan: He was instrumental with the ball at his feet, completing six-of-six long passes while compiling 204 yards of progressive passing distance and pulling off four dribbles, but Mkhitaryan got himself tossed from the game down the stretch, meaning he'll miss Roma's next league match. A bitter ending to an otherwise solid performance
- Gianluca Mancini: Pretty quiet night for Mancini, which is probably what he needed to be quite honest. He completed 76% of his passes, cleared two balls, and won two tackles.
- Chris Smalling: See above
- Bryan Cristante: He completed four tackles and picked off two passes, but his usually crisp passing was missing last night, as he completed only 64% of his passes while being dribbled past three times—the most in the match from either club.
- Jordan Veretout: A late sub, Veretout completed both his pass attempts and won three of five duels in only 15 minutes.
- Roger Ibañez: 13 minutes, seven touches, one interception, and one clearance.
- Matías Viña: 13 minutes, 22 touches, and only 60% passing. He's in a bit of a funk right now.
- Felix Afena-Gyan: Six touches and a perfect 1-1 passing!
- Sérgio Oliveira: The bloom may be coming off the rose. In only 13 minutes, Sérgio managed only three touches and seems to be slipping down the pecking order already after his hot start in January.
This wasn't an overwhelming statistical performance from Roma, but, as you can tell from the number of halos we just passed out, that didn't matter—they played this match perfectly.