Before we begin, a quick caveat about our post-match writing process, particularly the match reviews themselves. To publish these recaps as soon after the final whistle as possible, we typically create a draft as we watch the match, polishing off some rough edges before publishing, but this expediency sometimes comes at the cost of nuance.
Case in point: yesterday's match against Atalanta. At first blush, this looked like your typical wasteful performance where one club dominates the ball, firing shots at will, but simply can't convert due to lapses in concentration or poor technique. While some of that remains true, Roma generated more than 3 xG yesterday (depending on the source) and came within a hair's breadth of scoring multiple times, so our "Final Thoughts" section in yesterday's review was guilty of some recency bias.
But, part of the reason we expanded our Sinners & Saints series was to allow us to digest the statistics a day later, which often paints a different picture.
With that in mind, let's get down to business. After a brief hiatus, S&S is back, and today's tally is yet another battle between stats and the gold ol' fashion eye test, as Roma racked up some impressive attacking numbers despite not making a dent in the scoreboard.
Roma’s highest-rated player and MOTM nominee, Pellegrini was instrumental in Roma’s attacking output. In 90 minutes, Pellegrini took 72 touches, completed 90% of his passes, including three-of-four longballs, and created six scoring chances, including three “big chances,” according to SofaScore. Throw in his five shot attempts, three successful dribbles, and eight ground duels won, and Pellegrini had himself a day.
The newly minted Brazilian international continued his stellar start to the season last night. Playing the entire match, Ibañez took a match-high 107 touches, completed 89% of his passes, including seven-of-eleven from deep, fired four shots on goal, cleared four balls, completed three tackles, and intercepted an absurd eight passes.
Pressed into service at starting right-back in place of the injured Rick Karsdorp, Çelik proved much more than an insurance policy. Going the full 90, Çelik had a quiet but effective night at the office, completing 79% of his passes, including five-of-nine long balls, chipping in two key passes while intercepting two balls, and completing two tackles.
He only played 23 minutes last night, but Belotti made the most of them, creating four scoring chances and winning 60% of his duels. He's certainly making a subtle case for more playing time early in his Roma tenure, but as a guy who comes off the bench, busts his ass, chases down loose balls, and does the dirty work for his teammates, he's fitting in quite well.
There weren't many glaring errors from the men in maroon last night, but as you can probably guess, we're saving the pitchforks for the men who missed Roma's best chances.
With 86% passing and two chances created, Abraham did some things well last night, but as the man paid to score the goals, he came up short, missing two big chances, including a one-v-one against Marco Sportiello. As we discussed in our match preview, he suffered a similar dry spell to begin last season, so don't lose hope yet, but Abraham has to find a way to convert these chances—Roma is doomed otherwise.
Yes, it's perhaps a bit unfair to include a guy who only played 11 minutes on this list, but Shomurodov missed two chances in his brief run-out, including a free header late in the match that would have preserved a draw. Give him credit for throwing himself headlong into the match, but for a player as maligned as he's become, he missed a golden opportunity last night.
And now we move on to those...
Stuck In Between
You know the drill. These players did some good, some bad, but were otherwise neutral.
- Bryan Cristante: 79 touches, 82% passing, three tackles but still doesn't look comfortable alongside Nemanja Matic.
- Leonardo Spinazzola: Contributed two key passes and two dribbles to the cause. It seems like he's getting back into his groove, so we should expect more saintly performances from Spinazzola soon.
- Nemanja Matic: He nearly created a game-changing assist when he wheeled around the box and found Abraham at the near post but came up empty-handed. Besides that, Mourinho's right-hand man was steady as she goes against Atalanta.
- Gianluca Mancini: We didn't hear much from Mancini last night, who managed one key pass, one interception, and one tackle in 90 minutes.
- Chris Smalling: With three tackles and three interceptions, Smalling was his usual intuitive self but simply wasn't that busy because Atalanta only mustered four shots on goal.
- Nicolo Zaniolo: He did his best to goad referee Daniele Chiffi into giving him a penalty (twice, as a matter of fact), but The Kid wasn't at his best last night, misfiring on two shot attempts, though he did complete an impressive six of eleven dribbles.
- Nicola Zalewksi: One gorgeous through ball to Shomurodov late in the game, but the Golden Boy candidate didn't have enough time to influence the match.
- Rui Patricio: There wasn't much he could do to stop Scalvini's 35th-minute goal—it was well-struck, and Roma left him way too much room—but the veteran keeper was otherwise absent from last night's proceedings.
That's it for the latest rendition of S&S; we'll see you after the break! In the meantime, let us know who gets your halos or pitchforks.