It’s been a couple days since Roma were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid. The giallorossi certainly put up a fight and arguably deserved better. After having a couple days to digest the match, here are 3 things we’ve learned about Roma.
First and foremost, Roma overall, especially defensively are a very improved side. On aggregate, the scoreline reads 4-0 but I don’t think that tells the true story. Both in Rome and in Madrid, Roma were very steady defensively and it’s why most of Madrid’s shots came from outside of the box. Roma this season for the most part have been an mess in the back. Take Barcelona for example: 6-1 trashing and had their defence ripped apart. This defense also had a team like BATE score three against them in just one half. If there’s one thing we can take from this match and this tie in general is that Luciano Spalletti has completely changed this back-line.
I always say, not every goal is someones fault. Sometimes, the goalscorer was just too good. Both of Cristiano Ronaldo’s goals were goals that no one really made a mistake on. It was just simply Ronaldo being Ronaldo. It’s what makes him so good and puts him on another level than everyone else in world football (taking out Messi). The other two goals surrendered in the tie came from counterattacks where Roma were pressing to score. Top performances from Szczesny, Florenzi, Manolas, Digne and even Zukanovic, who was very good considering it was his 1st ever Champions League match. The defence of Rome has improved.
There’s also no questioning Dzeko’s ability, despite of what some say about him. He holds a strong reputation of being a very good striker. During his stints with Wolfsburg and Manchester City, the Bosnian was instrumental to their success and it’s a reason why Roma signed him. The false 9 with El Shaarawy, Perotti & Salah is fun and exciting, but Roma need Dzeko to return to his best. Yes, Roma’s attack has been on fire of late, and throughout the whole season, but it’s in those games where let’s say an in-form Dzeko can change the complexion of the match. Imagine an El Shaarawy, Perotti, Salah and Dzeko all playing together and all clicking? Roma might have been through to the next round (hypothetically speaking). I’m not saying that El Shaarawy, Perotti & Salah together can’t work. I’m just saying it would be better if Dzeko could hit form and join them in the attack, because it’s those strikers when in form who make the difference in big games and on days where other players fail to score.
Lastly, Francesco Totti is a football legend, and he may be able to still play! This sounds weird because many should know that already, but there are some who just consider this man an “Italian legend” or just a “Roman legend.” If there’s anything we learned from his roaring ovation at the Bernabeu is that Totti is football icon and one of the greatest of his generation. After the match, he said the ovation showed that he’s given something to football; that’s exactly right. It showed that the football world appreciates what Totti has done for the beautiful game. A crowd who once boo’d their own club legend decided to appreciate Totti in a very good manner.
The 2006 World Cup winner has given something to so many fans outside of Italy and Rome. He’s given something to football as a whole and that proved it. The other theory of him still having it comes from his 20 minute performance (along with his other cameos). It was short I know, but Francesco kept demanding for the ball and strung passes together. He was very calm and rarely delivered an errant pass. Totti constantly dropped back and picked up the ball to move it forward. It showed us that this guy is determined to prove to everyone – including Spalletti – that he’s willing to fight for his spot and work for it.
When the tie was over, he kept running. It was him continuously attempting to manufacture. He has the desire to keep playing and he isn’t just saying it. He’s showing us each time he takes to the pitch. Should we have ever doubted the captain?