After a one-week hiatus, Sinners & Saints, our post-match player rating series, returns. And what a return it was. In all my years of covering AS Roma, I'm not sure I've ever seen a match quite like yesterday's dispiriting 1-1 draw against freshly-relegated Venezia. They may sport the best kits in the league, but with 25 points and a -35 goal differential through their first 36 matches, Venezia didn't exactly impress on the pitch this season—except against our beloved Roma, who they defeated 3-2 back in the fall before stifling the Giallorossi attack yesterday despite playing a man down for over an hour.
With an incredible 46 shots on goal, Roma could have conceivably cracked double-digits last night, but thanks to some poor marksmanship, a few well-placed blocked shots, and four attempts striking the woodwork, the Giallorossi might as well have left the Stadio Olimpico empty-handed, as the one solitary point they scraped away from dead-last Venezia does little to aid their Europa League hopes for next season—win, lose, or draw against Juventus and Lazio will still have a two-point advantage over Roma as we head into next week's season finale.
Considering how lopsided this match was from a statistical perspective, we'll have to take today's ratings with a grain of salt. Not only did Roma fire 46 shots at Venezia, but they also strung together 548 passes (more than double Venezia), while winning 20 corners and holding 69% possession.
In that light, our usual numbers-based approach to this series will be a bit skewed, so we'll just have to grin and bear it for a week. However, on the balance of things, the players who typically played well did, and those who typically don't...didn't
Okay, onto the madness!
Someone get this man an ice pack! Not only did Pellegrini take a swift kick to his man bits courtesy of Sofian Kiyine, but Roma's captain also took 80 touches, attempted 17 crosses, fired 11 shots on goal, chipped in six key passes, engaged in 11 duels, played 17 balls into the final third and covered nearly 12 kilometers on the pitch. Any way you slice it, Pellegrini had an incredibly busy evening at work, and had either one of his free-kick clangers been a few inches lower, he walks off the pitch an exhausted but conquering hero.
Not to be outdone by his Azzurri teammate, Cristante was arguably the busiest and most effective player on the pitch last night, turning in match-high performances in the following categories: kilometers covered, touches, passes attempted, passes completed, chances created, balls into the final third, accurate long balls, and accurate cross percentage. Mourinho has definitely gotten the best out of a player who was a regular resident in the fan's doghouse last season—and really throughout his Eternal City tenure.
Smalling didn't take part in Roma's shot parade, but the veteran defender was his usual classy self: 90% passing, 89% duel success rate, two clearances, two blocked shots, one interception, four tackles, and a game-high 10 recoveries. He's certainly aging gracefully and Roma have been the better for it.
We've given him a lot of grief this season, but the 26-year-old forward made the most of his half-hour run last night, pumping five shots on goal, putting two on target, creating two scoring chances, and, of course, scoring Roma's lone goal on the evening.
Stephan El Shaarawy
A second-half sub, El Shaarawy wasted little time asserting himself in yesterday's match. In only 45 minutes, SES fired seven shots at Niki Mäenpää, putting three on target and almost winning the match on a goal-line scrum before he was denied by Venezia's Finnish keeper, who turned in a perfect 10 match rating from both WhoScored and SofaScore. In addition to his attempts on goal, SES added six key passes, one dribble, and five accurate long balls to the mix.
There's every chance that, when Mourinho's time in Rome is done, his work with Zalewski could be his greatest gift to the club. The 20-year-old Polish winger/wing-back provided an instant jolt of energy when he joined El Shaarawy as a second-half sub. In 45 minutes, Roma's other NZ attempted five shots, putting two on target (including one that hit the woodwork) while setting up three scoring chances for his teammates. Zalewski also added two interceptions and two tackles for good measure.
The young Brazilian defender's up and down season continued last night, with more down notes than bright spots. Statistically speaking, there wasn't much to write home about in either direction but his defending on Venezia's first-minute goal was a moment to forget for the 23-year-old, who was caught ball watching as David Okereke walked right in front of him to score after only 46 seconds.
And even if he managed to push Okereke off his path, this next man didn't help Roma's cause much either...
Had that ball run past Okereke and found its way to the back post, thanks to Maitland-Niles’ own lax defending, Ridgeciano Haps would have had perhaps an even easier tap-in goal. Apart from that hiccup, AMN managed little more than completing 16 of his 18 pass attempts, going 0-3 on crosses, and engaging in only three duels, winning just one. It's probably safe to say that his Roma career will end 10 days from now after the club's Conference League finale against Feyenoord, but given his versatility and athleticism, it was still a good risk to take—shame it hasn't worked out.
A classic S&S sin of omission, Kumbulla avoided a costly Ibañez-like error last night, but he failed to make a mark against Venezia, clearing only one ball in 45 minutes while failing to register a single tackle, block, or interception. On the whole, he's had a solid season, so let's hope he can finish it on a high note over the next two weeks, particularly in the Conference League finale in his native Albania (yes, I know he was actually born in Italy).
Stuck In Between
It's hard to imagine in a match as statistically lopsided as this that we'd have anyone stuck in post-match purgatory, but these players neither stood out nor shrunk from the moment last night.
- Tammy Abraham: With only three shots on goal, he didn't really get in the flow of the match last night, particularly when you consider Roma managed a shot every other minute. He's carried a heavy load this season and given yesterday's results, don't be shocked if he gets a breather ahead of the UECL finale on the 25th.
- Carles Pérez: With seven shots and two key passes, he was arguably Roma's most dangerous player in the first half but his performance waned throughout the second half before he was subbed off in the 82nd minute.
- Jordan Veretout: The soon-to-be former Roma midfielder completed a crisp 88% of his passes last night, put one attempt on goal, chipped in one key pass, and hit on six of seven long passes.
- Rick Karsdorp: Fresh off his first Netherlands National Team call-up in five years, Karsdorp started from the bench last night, coming on to start the second half and managed one key pass and two interceptions in 45 minutes.
- Cristian Volpato: A late sub, the Aussie-Italian hybrid only saw the ball a handful of times but did manage one key pass.
- Rui Patricio: He faced only four total shots and was more or less hung out to dry on Venezia's goal thanks to Ibañez's poor marking in the box.
- Leonardo Spinazzola: It was just great to see him out there again, wasn't it? In his 45-minute run, Spinazzola had two shots on goal, completed 76% of his passes, had two successful dribbles, and completed two of four crosses.
With only two matches remaining, let's hope for nothing but halos from here on out and look for our first-ever season-encompassing S&S after the season!