A week after struggling to finish chances against lowly Salernitana, Roma repeated the deed against newly-promoted Cremonese, frustrating the more than 60,000 fans packing the Olimpico with a flurry of near misses, wasted chances, and the now bog-standard shots clanging off the woodwork. All told, Roma fired 27 shots at Cremonese, and while many were on target, only one attempt, Chris Smalling's 65th-minute header, found its mark. Although to be fair, the Cremonese defense was outstanding last night, forcing Roma into 11 attempts outside of the area while blocking nine shots in total.
As mentioned in the match review, Roma's performance last night was as dispiriting as uplifting. The margins for error are more forgiving against small clubs like Salernitana and Cremonese, so Roma's profligacy in front of goal didn't bite them too hard, but has your confidence been buoyed by these first two performances?
At the same time, Roma never wavered in either effort, pinging the ball around the final third, chasing down every loose ball, and charging hard into every tackle until the very last thread in their kits was saturated with sweat. And when the moment came, Roma delivered.
And in the end, that's all that matters. While a few more goals would have been nice, there is still plenty to celebrate, so let's pass out some halos, starting with the man of the hour.
The greatest Englishman in club history continues to write his legacy in real-time. In 90 minutes against Cremonese, not only did Smalling notch the game's only goal, he intercepted two passes, completed two tackles, won five of six duels, and cleared an impressive eight balls from danger. Throw in his goal and one key pass, and Smalling was a clear MOTM candidate.
But he wasn't Roma's only ace defender last night.
The greatest Brazilian/Uruguayan in club history continued his hot start to the season with another dynamic performance in Mourinho's three-man backline. Playing the entire match, Ibañez cleared five balls, made a game-high 11 recoveries, blocked two shots, and won 75% of his duels last night. Ibañez wasn't too shabby with the ball at his feet either, completing 84% of his passes, including three of four long balls, and he even pulled off one successful dribble for good measure.
Roma's third center-back wasn't too far behind his cohorts last night, winning three tackles, 80% of his duels, and recovering six balls. In the attacking phases, Mancini hit on 79% of his passes, including five-of-six long balls, and provided one key pass while completing two successful dribbles. And he wasn't even carded!
Dybala's creative prowess was on full display Monday night. In 72 minutes of action, La Joya took 52 touches and completed 87% of his passes, 80% of his long balls, and 100% of his crosses while chipping in an impressive six key passes. Dybala also fired six attempts on goal, dribbled past two defenders, and played 10 balls into the final third.
There's an alternate universe somewhere where he's done all this while already scoring three or four goals, but he's been great through his first two turns in a Roma shirt.
Roma's former ballboy turned captain continued his ascent towards the apex of Italian football last night, turning in another captivating performance. In 90 minutes, Pellegrini took 66 touches, completed 83% of his passes, ripped off six shots, created five scoring chances, completed four-of-five dribbles, and pumped 12 balls into the final third.
Defensively, Pellegrini won seven-of-eight duels, recovered seven balls, won two tackles, cleared one ball, and intercepted one pass, all while covering nearly 12 kilometers last night.
The 27-year-old midfielder followed up last weekend's heroic performance with another strong outing on Monday evening. Playing from gavel to gavel, Cristante did a bit of everything against Cremonese: 63 touches, 77% passing, 80% long passing, 16 balls into the final third (a game-high), two clearances, and five tackles.
While he didn't make a dent in the back of the net, Abraham was among Roma's most influential attacking players yesterday, putting three-of-five shots on target while chipping in four key passes and winning nine-of-twelve duels.
Roma's netminder was surprisingly busy against Cremonese, facing 14 total shots while making three saves and two high claims and hitting on nine of sixteen long passes.
With no one committing any egregious errors or putting Roma in harm's way last night, we'll jump straight to the SIBs.
Stuck In Between
- Nicolo Zaniolo: In roughly 45 minutes, Zaniolo took 25 touches and fired three shots on goal while attempting six dribbles, though he only completed one. Unfortunately, he'll have to wait about a month to improve on this performance after dislocating his left shoulder late in the first half.
- Stephan El Shaarawy: Zaniolo's sub misfired on all three of his attempts, though he did fling one off the crossbar midway through the second half. SES also managed two successful dribbles and one key pass in 45 minutes.
- Leonardo Spinazzola: One tackle, two dribbles, one clearance, two interceptions, and one missed chance in 73 minutes.
- Rick Karsdorp: A pretty quiet night for Karsdorp, who cleared two balls, made one tackle, and created one scoring chance in 90 minutes.
- Nemanja Matic: One tackle and 86% passing in 18 minutes
- Nicola Zalewski: 18 touches in 17 minutes
- Zeki Celik: A token appearance at the end of the match, but something tells me his role may soon grow.
That's it for this rendition. See you back here after Juventus this weekend. In the meantime, please give us your take on yesterday's performance.