It’s said that revenge is a dish that’s best served cold. And while the temperatures at the Stadio Olimpico on Thursday were far from the sub-zero readings that Bodø/Glimt are accustomed to playing in, the reception that the Giallorossi gave the Norwegians was bone-chilling. And once the match got underway, Bodø must’ve felt more like it was in the fiery depths of the underworld. With 65,000+ raucous supporters behind them, the Lupi were ravenous and ripped Bodo to shreds.
This was the fourth time this season that Roma squared off with Bodø and plenty of Giallorossi players made the sinners list in the first three meetings. In fact, after the 6-1 embarrassment inflicted on Roma by the Norwegians during the group stages, some players were even excommunicated from the Church of Totti by José Mourinho.
But all was atoned for yesterday as Roma put in one of its finest performances of the season—a 4-0 bashing of Bodø to move onto the ECL semifinals. And as José Mourinho saw it there was no doubt that this was going to happen.
So, with that in mind, there won’t be any penance assigned to any Roma players as we’re only handing out halos after such a fine display.
I mean, what more can be said about Zaniolo’s performance last night? After not featuring against Lazio and amid the incessant rumors of Juventus lining up him up as its Dybala replacement, Zaniolo simply went to work last night. Nico put in an otherworldly hour-long performance against Bodø, scoring Roma’s first European hat trick since Francesco Totti in 2009.
It’s these types of performances we’ve been yearning to see from Zaniolo after his last two seasons were destroyed by injury. And with the way Nico played last night, the hope is there that he can still develop into the player he was projected to be pre-injury. He was explosive, with his rare combination of power and speed on full display. Full marks for Zaniolo.
Roma’s captain played a huge role in their dominant performance. Pellegrini earned the assist on Zaniolo’s first goal—a lovely string of passes on the break. But, besides playing Nico through on goal, Pellegrini racked up seven key passes in the match and created two big chances, Additionally, he won six of eleven ground duels and three tackles. Captains must lead by example and against an opponent that had made life miserable this season, Pellegrini led the charge in finally vanquishing Bodø.
Cristante has become one of the most polarizing figures in recent years for Roma. He’s been much maligned for putting in subpar performances, while never truly playing the position that prompted Roma to drop serious cash on him. However, performances like the one he put in last night show why Cristante starts nearly every match for Mourinho.
Cristante was monstrous in the midfield. Defensively, Cristante won six of eight ground duels and all five of his aerial duels. He also won four tackles and cleared the ball four times. On the offensive side of the ball, Cristante created two big chances, earned an assist, and completed six of eleven long balls and three key passes. This was a man-of-the-match caliber performance.
Smalling was a rock in the back yet again for Roma. When he plays the defense always seems more secure. And while he didn’t stuff the stat sheet last night, the Englishman was quick to snuff out any Bodø attack before it was too late. Additionally, Smalling’s long ball game was on point as he completed eight of twelve.
Lost in all the excitement of Zaniolo’s hat trick is the fact that Tammy bagged another goal to get things started for the Giallorossi. His competition-leading eighth goal set the tone for the rest of the match. Besides the tally, Tammy played a key role in setting up Zaniolo’s first as he fed Pellegrini before the captain played Nico in. Abraham continues to be indispensable in leading the line.
So often we talk about the mercato and players a team signs to help turn things around. In that regard, Sergio Oliveira has been key in Roma’s second-half surge. Nevertheless, Zalewski is quickly becoming Roma’s best mid-season addition and a fixture in the starting XI. The teenage Italian-born Polish international continues to excel despite being played out of position as a wingback. His gut-busting dribble from Roma’s own half before playing Zaniolo in on goal with a perfect through ball was simply delightful to watch. Roma has another real talent with the initials NZ on its hands.
The Flying Dutchman continued his fine form last night on both sides of the pitch. Karsdorp was tireless along Roma’s right flank neutralizing danger man Ole Solbakken, while providing five accurate long balls to Roma’s attack. His tackle early in the match followed by an appeal to get the crowd going showed that Rick was tuned in from the opening whistle.
Roger Ibañez & Gianluca Mancini
Like Smalling, neither Ibañez nor Mancini stuffed the stat sheet on the night. In fact, the low number of tackles and clearances needed from Roma’s rearguard speaks to just how sterile Bodø was with 60% possession. However, both were attentive when called upon. Mancini’s yellow card was the only damper on an outstanding team performance defensively.
Credit has to be given to Mourinho for having his team prepared to dominate this match. Roma was well organized and came in with a perfect game plan. This match should go a long way in putting the 6-1 loss behind the club. One can only imagine the pre-match locker room speech from the CT that got the Lupi fired up for this one. This was Mourinho-ball at its best.
Stuck In Between
- Henrikh Mkhitaryan: A quiet match for Mkhi compared to what we’ve seen of late, but he was solid nonetheless.
- Rui Patricio: There wasn’t much to do for Rui in this one as Bodo managed just one shot on target. However, his post-match photo with goalkeeper coach Nuno Santos was certainly priceless.
- Felix Afena-Gyan: An underwhelming half-hour off the bench for Afena after replacing Zaniolo. Just eight touches and losing possession four times doesn’t make for a great stat line, but in a match like this, we’ll give him a pass.