Roma once again faced a wall of opponents only to be muzzled out, but this time it felt worst because the team failed to score against the last team in the league. No other team has failed to score against them at home. It is a reoccurring theme this season, and a sad point to start my venture as a writer for this site and this team. The pages of La Repubblica say it loud and clear, as Enrico Sisti begins a short article with an all too familiar notion for Roma fans,
“A long goodbye is taking shape. A goodbye to the hopes and dreams and to what might have been. It’s a path that is filled with melancholy and desire to regain a former quality…”
It is undeniable that A.S. Roma is struggling. The giallorossi continue to play a possession based game that leads to little but backpasses and sideways passes, with seemingly fewer and fewer moments of the incisive play that led to last year’s record breaking season.
As obvious as that is, somehow the team remains in second place, gaining ground on third-placed in-form Napoli, and keeping up with Juventus, thanks to unlikely Cesena. However, we all know this is not enough to secure a Scudetto, let alone battle a machine like Juve’s all the way until the end. It is a slow progress that will slowly kill off our dreams for a Scudetto yet again.
So what exactly went wrong on Sunday? The statistics shed little light on it. One of the few statistics worth looking at is the heatmap, courtesy of whoscored.com.
Notice how the Roma players (left) attempted to surround the penalty area where most Parma (right) players were located, and yet still the midfield is positioned very low in comparison to the Parma players. What prevented the Roman midfield from advancing? There were many chances that could have benefited from an advanced midfield, one that comes to mind is Verde’s cross from the right that beat the keeper but couldn’t find anyone in the box to tap it in. It is evident from this heatmap that Parma’s tactic was to suffocate the areas of the pitch where we do our magic by overloading the flanks and the box.
The result is baffling when one looks at a total of 768 touches, 116 out of 164 successful passes in the attacking third, and 14 key passes, yet the result is still 0-0. The main source remains the right flank, with most crosses and key passes coming from that side, however Ashley Cole had a few decent chances to open the scoring or assist a teammate. He had a decent game. It is not his fault, it is not Doumbia’s fault, it is nobody’s fault this time. Everyone had a decent game. Not a great or bad game, but a decent game.
There is still hope, but this team needs to get down and analyze the statistics of these matches to realize what needs to be done differently, and the sooner they do it, the faster we will see the effects in the standings.
There is a glimmer of hope. The team looked much more dangerous in a 4-2-3-1 with Verde coming on for De Rossi. Not only does that change stretch the red blob we see in Parma’s area, freeing up space, but it allows for Roma to have a more central presence close to the box with the central attacking midfielder and one of the midfield pivots pushing higher.
If we can turn the possession and the chances into goals, we would gain much ground on a soon to be distracted Juventus. Now it’s onto Feyenoord. Let’s keep supporting our boys until the bitter end, as only Romanisti know how!