It was another awful start for Roma as the defense surrendered a goal not even two minutes into the game. Arkadiusz Milik, who received an incredible through pass whilst inside the box, fired a powerful shot top shelf past Robin Olsen. We may sound like a broken record for saying this, but the goal can be attributed to Federico Fazio once again getting beaten due to lack of speed and woeful marking. Olsen would go on to redeem himself for a moment when he prevented Napoli from going up 2-0 after he stoned a quick strike from a wide open attacker.
Stadio Olimpico quickly became restless through the first half as the supporters rained down the boos after an ineffective midfield kept committing turnovers, as they were unable to feed the ball to the forwards. A mostly defensive midfield with De Rossi and Nzonzi starting, it was a difficult first half to watch as Roma’s total lack of midfield creativity shone bright and true. Napoli maintained possession 66% of the time and forced Roma to commit several fouls out of frustration. Dzeko and Schick were complete non-factors through forty-five minutes.
Roma received their first bit of luck after extra time probably should have expired. A concurrent penalty and Napoli handball after the forty-seven-minute mark set the stage for Roma to even up the match. Unfortunately for Napoli, it was their first mistake all game, and it couldn’t have come at a worse time. Diego Perotti stared down Alex Meret and sent the giallorossi to the dressing room with new life and hope, game even at 1-1.
Roma’s momentum was quickly undone when Napoli sent a relatively slow grounder parallel to the goal line right through Robin Olsen’s reach, connecting to Dries Mertens who tapped in the go-ahead goal. The defensive woes did not end there as Napoli shortly thereafter proceeded to break the game open, overpowering an undermanned Roma defense to put the visitors up 3-1. Napoli proceeded to crowd the box at the eighty-minute mark to secure the win, scoring their fourth goal of the match.
Steven Nzonzi needs to work on his heading. Other than the Perotti penalty, Nzonzi was the only Roma player who had an opportunity to put a shot on net in the first half, his miss was very wide. A late-game rebound off Alex Meret provided Nzonzi with a point-blank shot which hit the crossbar, it would be Roma’s last decent offensive chance all game.
Those Robin Olsen transfer rumors aren’t going away anytime soon. Yes, the defense has been absolutely atrocious this season, but a goalie like Olsen who starts almost every single match needs to be able to steal a game or two. Roma will need to find a suitor willing to pay Olsen’s wages, a trip back to Sweden or another Scandinavian club is the most likely scenario.
Claudio Ranieri did himself no favors if his intent is to take over full time coaching duties. The conversations about him taking over on a permanent basis have essentially ended.
Cengiz Under was back in the lineup as a late-game substitute. This, unfortunately, was the high point of the game for Roma fans. We are pleased to see him back on the pitch and with any luck, he will be back in the starter’s position next week.