A very Jekyll and Hyde performance from Roma on Easter Saturday as they dropped two points against a Europe Chasing Atalanta side.
Atalanta took an early deserved lead in the first half thanks to a volley from Jasmin Kurtic. Roma equalised 4 minutes into the second half thanks to a close range goal from Edin Dzeko. Roma huffed and puffed but couldn’t add a second and struggled to break down a resolute Atalanta side who defended brilliantly in a backs against the wall in the second half against a Roma siege who chucked everything bar the kitchen sink.
Atalanta nearly took a shock lead in the opening minutes of the game when they sprung and counter attacked Roma. Petagna played a clever ball into Jasmin Kurtic who then crossed in to Hateboer who had his effort well blocked by a combination of Rudiger and Fazio. Federico Fazio had a header from a Daniele De Rossi free kick comfortably saved by Gollini.
Both Petagna and Franck Kessie had wayward efforts on the Roma goal in a fast paced opening start of the game. Petagna turned the Roma defence and fired high wide and handsome onto the running track. Kessie who has been linked to Roma in the summer and a low drive which was fired wide into the Advertising hoarding behind the goal.
Fazio had another header glance wide from a Daniele De Rossi set piece, Edin Dzeko then fired over from close range after Radja Nainggolan played a defence splitting ball from the right hand touchline. Dzeko took the ball down on his chest and fired over from inside of the 18 yard box.
Atalanta took the lead after 21 minutes and it was thoroughly deserved, Andrea Conti down the left hand side found himself in space and played a square cross to Jasmin Kurtic who hit a volley into the bottom corner past a static Szczesny and Roma defence failed to come out and close down both Conti and Kurtic.
Daniele De Rossi had the final chance of the first half as he headed a Radja Nainggolan corner into the arms of Gollini in the Atalanta goal. Either side of the on loan Aston Villa goalkeeper it would have been 1-1.
A very disjointed first half from Roma as they struggled to stamp their authority on the game, both full backs failed to get forward and were pinned back thanks to Atalanta high pressing. This meant Roma were getting frustrated out wide leaving Salah and Perotti have two to three players around them all the time. A very sloppy first half as Roma were careless in possession also thanks to the intensity and high pressing from a well organised and drilled Atalanta side from one of the coaches of the season in Gian Piero Gasperini.
Roma made a half time switch with Bruno Peres coming on for Kostas Manolas meaning Antonio Rudiger switching from Right back to his more favoured centre back position. That switch paid off just 4 minutes into the second half and Roma hit back and equalised and looked more settled. A deep cross from Mario Rui found Mohamed Salah at the back post who headed across goal to Edin Dzeko to volley home from close range.
Then came the Roma siege on the Atalanta goal, Roma smelt blood and just hit Atalanta with pace on the attack. Daniele De Rossi at the back post was whiskers away from adding a second Roma goal with an acrobatically volley which cannoned of the post. Could have been one of the goals of the season.
Both Salah and Perotti went close with cross shots from both flanks both missing their targets at the back posts. Radja Nainggolan then fired high over the cross bar with a first time effort after a switch of play from the right hand side.
Diego Perotti then had a low half volley from outside of the area parried away back into his own 18 yard area from Gollini, lucky for him it was cleared straight away by the Atalanta defence. Then Roma were unlucky to add a second moments later when Nainggolan smashed the crossbar with a fierce effort from outside of the area. Crossbar now is still rattling.
Roma huffed and puffed in the final moments of the game but struggled to break down a stubborn and resolute Atalanta back 6 who got a crucial point in their race for European spot. Roma with that draw are now 8 points behind Juventus as they won away at Pescara and the dream of winning a 4th Scudetto looks to be over.
The first half performance by Roma cost them today as they were very laboured and Spalletti got his tactics horribly wrong and was getting outclassed by Gasperini in his high pressing 3-4-3 game. Also Atalanta were missing one of their best players in Alejandro Gomez who was suspended for the game. But Luciano Spalletti had to make that change and it worked and a change of formation into a 4-3-3 which I thought looked like a 3-4-3, Roma were completely different side in the second half and if only they played like this in the first half it could and should have been a different story.
Roma stats/star player
5 attempts at goal. 1 off target, 2 off target and 2 blocked
49/52 passes completed with a pass completion rate of 94.2%
3/3 headed clearances
4 chances created
4 attempts at goal. 2 off target, 2 blocked
41/50 passes completed with a pass completion rate of 82
1/1 take on
Roma had 21 shots on goal
5 shots on target
541 completed passes