Admittedly, this has been a rough weekend for my non-Roma football rooting interests. Manchester City fell victim to Ten Hag’s Devils, Real Madrid capitulated in the Supercopa, and my Sunday league team was devastatingly crushed. Going into Roma’s match against Fiorentina, I fully expected a frustrating evening ahead.
But thanks to a pair of magical moments courtesy of Paulo Dybala and Tammy Abraham, Roma came out on top, winning 2-0 against 10-man Fiorentina. It wasn't a perfect performance, but Roma got the job done to go level on points with Lazio and Atalanta.
It’s been a bit since we’ve had a new entry in this series, so without further ado, let's take a look at three things I either noticed, liked, or disliked from the match.
La Joya is a Cheat Code
Look, I’m not saying anything we don't already know, but Paulo Dybala is an absolute cheat code. Outside of Stephan El Shaarawy, I’m not sure there are any players on Roma’s roster that can produce a moment of magic as casually as Paulo did on Sunday with his first-time volley to score the opener.
In his post-match presser, Mourinho shared an anecdote that he asked Dybala to return from his World Cup break early, in fear that Roma wouldn't be able to defeat Bologna without him. A true professional, Dybala returned a day earlier than requested, and sure enough, despite Paulo not scoring, Roma would go on to defeat Bologna.
Now, that anecdote merely highlights how much Mourinho values Dybala, but Paulo is definitively the first name on the team sheet and the individual whom Roma should be playing through, and performances like the one on Sunday will go a long way in getting Roma back into the top-four.
Hell, if La Joya keeps this up, I suspect management will start dusting off that number 10 shirt sooner rather than later.
No matter the shirt number, I think we’re all happy to exclaim that we have Paulo Dybala, and you don’t!
Tammy Two-Assists is Getting His Groove Back
I think we’re going to look back at Tammy’s last-minute goal-line clearance against Bologna to preserve the win as the moment that things started to turn around for the young Englishman.
The next step in that return to form happened Sunday evening, as Tammy was back to his 2021-2022 best against Fiorentina, assisting Paulo Dybala on both of La Joya’s goals. It was clear following the second goal that Tammy’s close to being back to full confidence, the Englishman taking on defenders and exhibiting a willingness to dig into his bag of tricks to beat his man that had been missing before the break.
It’s hard to say whether the pressure of making England’s World Cup squad was the root of Tammy’s struggles in the first half of the season, but with the tournament squarely in the rear-view mirror and with Roma having kept pace in the top-four race up to this point, Tammy might have found the perfect time to find form. Here’s to hoping Roma can capitalize.
Roma Are Right Where They Need to Be
Lost in the frustration surrounding Roma’s ineptitude in attack is the fact that Roma has quietly gone five games unbeaten in league play, has won three out of four in all competitions following the restart after their win on Sunday, and is currently just three points back of Inter in 4th place.
Now, a handful of those results have been draws, and again, Roma’s inability to score is still this team’s number one issue. And hell, you can even argue that the Giallorossi need to start taking more points from their top-four rivals before we can seriously start thinking about this team qualifying for the Champions League.
But the league is as competitive as ever this season, with just four points between second place and seventh place. With Tammy and Paulo developing a devastating partnership up top, an extended winning run could soon be on the cards for Roma, which could be the difference as Roma’s rivals have hardly had any consistency of their own this season.
Well, that’s all from me. Roma returns to action next Sunday, traveling away to Spezia in a potential trap game as league leaders Napoli await at the end of the month. Mourinho won’t suffer a lapse in concentration from his players, so expect Roma to come out swinging as they look to build on the momentum from their win against Fiorentina.