Serie A Club of the Round – Roma


There was not really any dominant display in this round but Bologna’s one, but at this point the drubbings of Chievo are no longer eligible for this column. The slate featured just two other shutout wins, a surprising but also a bit lucky one by Frosinone in Florence and the other by Roma against Sampdoria on the road, which is enough to take home the weekly honor.

The Giallorossi were freefalling in the standings as they had won just once in the previous five fixtures, in the Claudio Ranieri debut against Empoli, while they had lost to Lazio, SPAL and Napoli and equalized midweek against Fiorentina. They were also eliminated by Porto in Champions League.

Few key elements have recently come back from injuries and they could not count only on Alessandro Florenzi, Diego Perotti, Javier Pastore and Davide Santon in this game, although the final two are back-ups. The coach went back to the 4-2-3-1 they have often employed with Eusebio Di Francesco at the helm, but putting Nicolò Zaniolo and Justin Kluivert on the flanks, Lorenzo Pellegrini in the hole, Daniele De Rossi and Bryan Cristante as pivots and Patrik Schick up front, since Edin Dzeko is nicked up.

The showing was not overly impressive, but in such a calamitous stretch they obviously welcome anything positive that comes their way. The Blucerchiati did have their chances. After five minutes, Gregoire Defrel teed up Fabio Quagliarella with a little ball over the top, but the striker this time did not find the target with one of his trademark volleys. At the 23rd one, Defrel challenged Antonio Mirante from outside of the box, but the goalie, who has supplanted Robin Olsen, tipped it over the bar.

La Lupa had some intriguing raids, mostly led by Zaniolo and Kluivert, but had no clear-cut chance in the first half and Emil Audero intervened on the two most menacing ones, a strike by the Dutch winger and a juicy ball where Schick did not find a way to coordinate and kick it towards the goal.

The Czech centre-forward did have a big opportunity in the second half, but his header on a corner kick went just wide. The Blucerchiati put two solid efforts over the bar, one by Riccardo Saponara from the edge of the box, the other by Quagliarella on a free kick.

The guests broke through at the 75th minutes: Aleksandar Kolarov found Schick on a corner kick, the precise header was saved by Audero with a great dive, but Daniele De Rossi was there to nudge home the rebound.

They had two more scares: Manolo Gabbiadini could not hit the ball properly on a cross while unguarded few meters away from the goal, while Quagliarella did not manage to properly latch onto the ball a feed by Gregoire Defrel, where he could have deflected it on the empty net at the 94th minutes.

Roma held on and pulled closer to Milan and Atalanta in the Champions League race. Fantasy-wise, Mirante paced his team with seven points, followed by Daniele De Rossi with six, then all the defenders but Kolarov with five and the midfielders with two, all thanks to the clean sheet.

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