Recapping a scoreless draw can sometimes be a fool's errand. After all, what's left to dissect when nothing of consequence really happened in the game, to begin with? Admittedly, we're being somewhat flippant by asking that question since there are nuances and lessons in any match, but at this point in the season, we're not likely to uncover some previously hidden design and/or flaws in José Mourinho's tactical approach, making last night's result as frustrating to write about as it was to watch.
Nevertheless, we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past looking for any shred of insight from a dull, listless match that saw Roma squander multiple opportunities to down lowly Bologna. Given that Roma was as solid defensively as they were wasteful in attack, our Sinners & Saints will be more stratified than usual.
But we'll start, as always, on the sunny side of the street.
We usually tuck Roma's number one keeper into the bottom of our saints' list, but Patricio was the star of the show for Mourinho's men last night, making multiple key saves to preserve the draw. While his opposite number Lukasz Skorupski garnered all the headlines, Patricio was no slouch, making four saves in the box, snaring two high claims, and completing seven of fifteen long balls.
Seemingly back in Mourinho's good graces, the 23-year-old Brazilian defender continued his fine form yesterday against Bologna. In 90 minutes, Ibañez cleared four balls, intercepted four passes, completed three tackles, and won 70% of his duels.
But he wasn't the only standout on Roma's backline last night...
With five tackles, three clearances, one blocked shot, one interception, and a 75% duel success rate, Mancini was as efficient as he was effective against Bologna. He also completed 83% of passes, including one key pass. And he did it all without getting a yellow card!
The final member of Roma's backline, Kumbulla continued his impressive 2022, adding three clearances, four interceptions, two tackles, and three duels won to Roma's defensive cause last night. And if he just could have guided his second-half header home, he's the undisputed star of the show.
We're not suggesting that Bryan Cristante is suddenly going to make people forget about Daniele De Rossi, but Roma's 27-year-old malleable midfielder is stitching together a pretty impressive 2022, eschewing the rollercoaster performances we saw throughout 2021. In 90 minutes last night, Cristante did a bit of everything: One interception, four tackles, one key pass, five accurate long balls (out of six), 82% passing, two shots on goal, 10 recoveries, 15 balls into the final third and a match-high 11.7 km covered on the pitch.
While Mourinho likely would have preferred to rest him for the entire match yesterday, Pellegrini made his presence felt in his 31-minute cameo last night. Joining the fray as part of Mourinho's 59th-minute quadruple change, Pellegrini got straight to work, reeling off two shots and two key passes while hitting on 50% of his crosses. With 10 goals and four assists in all competitions, Pellegrini has arguably been Roma's most important player this season and figures to be the centerpiece of the club's next great team—we hope.
Depending on how the final handful of matches go this season, this may be the last time we see AMN in a Roma shirt, so it felt right to give him a halo for what was arguably his best performance for the club.
While he wasn't quite at the level of his predecessors on this list, Ainsley Maitland-Niles was pretty effective in his 58-minute shift last night, completing 87% of his passes, including 67% of his crosses, while adding one key pass to the mix. Defensively, AMN picked off one pass, completed two tackles, and won five of eight duels, including both aerial contests.
Boy, that two-goal breakout against Genoa feels like a lifetime ago, doesn't it? After bursting onto the scene with a brace against the Griffins in mid-November, it felt like Roma had a new star on their hands. And while that may someday ring true, young Felix has increasingly looked like a kid out of his depth. Getting the rare start yesterday, Felix's response was rather forgettable: Zero shots attempted, 73% passing, 24 touches, and 10 times losing possession in only 59 minutes of action.
The talent is undeniable but he just needs a place to play consistently, so let's hope the club sorts out a productive loan for the 19-year-old next season.
Stuck In Between
Considering the complete lack of goals and sparse action last night, I thought we'd be inundated with SIBs, but Roma's sterling defensive performance produced more halos than we anticipated. But these fellas were firmly stuck in between.
- Jordan Veretout: He chipped in two key passes and hit on four of five long balls (and attempted a whopping 10 crosses) but failed to really influence the match in any significant way.
- Carles Pérez: He came oh so close to winning this match with a lovely left-footed shot but was otherwise neutral in his 59 minutes last night.
- Nicola Zalewski: He pulled off two of three dribbles and chipped in two key passes in only 32 minutes. I don’t know about you, but I'm starting to think this kid might be good.
- Rick Karsdorp: Took only 20 touches in his 32-minute run last night, but managed to create one scoring chance in the process.
- Stephan El Shaarawy: Completed 81% of his passes and managed two successful dribbles...annnd that was about it for SES last night against Bologna.
- Nicolo Zaniolo: He was the lone option for most of the match and it showed: five shots and two key passes but just couldn't find that extra bit of space in the final third to make one of those attempts matter.
- Tammy Abraham: One shot, one key pass, and 13 touches in 32 minutes.
- Eldor Shomurodov: He managed two shots and two clearances and won two of three duels in only 13 minutes.
That's it for today's rendition of Sinners & Saints, let's hope for a more definitive result next time out!