Roma were coming off a Dramatic late win in their first match of the season. In their home opener it wouldn’t be any different. Roma welcomed a strong Atalanta side to the Stadio Olimpico on Monday Night. A game that was filled with Drama and none stop action throughout it out it as Serie A fans were treated to an incredible match up between two of Italy’s most exciting teams. Javier Pastore gave Roma an very early 1-0 lead with an insane back heel flick. Atalanta responded with goals from Timothy Castagne and two goals from Emilio Rugoni. As Atalana opened up a 3-1 lead after 45 minutes in what was an abysmal first half performance from Roma. The Romans fought back in this second half as Di Francesco made two changes as they game turned around. Florenzi gave Roma the momentum back scoring a goal that minimized the deficit to 3-2. Then late in the second half Roma had a wild finish in Rome as Kostas Manolas scored with under 10 minutes to go as Roma were able to battle back from 3-1 down to earn an important point thanks to a familiar site of Kostas Manolas to completing another Roma comeback. Roma travel to Milan as they will take on AC Milan at the San Siro next week a match they will go into with great confidence.
A disastrous first half for Roma
Roma started the game so well with Pastore’s early back heel flick. However that was truly Roma’s only positive from the first half. Saying Roma’s first half was a disaster would be an understatement. They were terrible the mistakes and error’s made over the first 45 minutes could have been game defining impactful mistakes. Manolas and Fazio are considered some of the best center backs in the league but on Monday night they look as bad as I’ve seen them. They looked unorganized out of position and completely unfocused. While I believe it was just a bad day for them they must make improvements next week they were being manhandled by the Atalanta attack and had no response to what Atalanta was bringing forward. Atalanta racked up 16 shots in the first half including three goals they controlled position and were making roma pay for all of their mistakes. Roma could not attack they were be played off the park in the midfield and over all provided nothing encouraging. Di Francesco was vividly frustrated and noticeably angry on his sides first half performance. He said after the game that he would of taken out more then half his team at the break. Roma were horrendous they were really hard to watch they were just getting bullied by an Atalanta team that was incredibly confident and was coming forward all the time they were very fortunate that they didn’t get more goals because they were getting crushed. Roma must not let this happen again the performance was unacceptable in the first half poor defensively and make huge mistakes through out the 45 minutes that led to goals this must be corrected the 3-1 half time deficit could have been avoided absolute awful first half they cant not allow themselves to play like that again.
Duvan Zapata and the Atalanta Attack
It would be difficult to play better then Atalanta did in the first half against Roma on Monday night. Atalanta was without their best player and player maker Papu Gomez who was being rested for Atalanta’s important Europa League qualifying match against Copenhagen. Despite his absence others stepped up as they continuously punished Roma in that first half. Taking complete control of the match as they ran through the Roman defense like they were none existent and their attack was relentless. They looked frightening when they were coming forward a physical team that seemingly looked like they weren’t going to be denied. With Papu Gomez sitting on the bench Duvan Zapata and Emilio Rigoni stepped up and showed their incredible quality. Zapata really stuck on it my mind he was a nightmare for Roma to deal with he was cutting through the Roman defense like Tissue paper. The Roma defense was no match for Zapata his physical and big body continually was running them over. Sampdoria made a huge mistake letting him go such a top class player who will continue to provide and add quality to this Atalanta side. He played down the flanks against Manolas was sensation creating a breakaway just pushing Manolas off to the side that ultimately lead to a break away goal for Rigoni. He also played a huge role in the first goal as he found space a ripped up the side but saw his shot cling on the cross bar only for Rigoni to clean it up. The attack was so effective they were causing big problems and Roma had no answer they were ruthless in the first half completely dominating the match as Zapata led and outstanding first half performance.
Romans Never Quit
Roma were in a huge hole going into the second half after an abysmal first half showing. They needed at least two goals to get back in the game to try and avoid a loss. They stepped it up in the second half as they crawled their way back. Roma never gave up on the game in a match they could have easily done so. Roma came together in the second half as they tried to chip away at the deficit. They vaulted a comeback against an extremely confident Atalanta side that completely bullied Roma in the first half. The Game started turning in their in favor as the attack opened up in the second half the Romans started playing with much more confidence as the game continued and once Florenzi scored the took the momentum of the game and Roma continued to build on it. Roma were a different team in the second half. Romans never quit they gave it everything to get back into the game. The Barcelona comeback was mouths ago but their were some real similarities between the two. It shows the grit and determination that this Roma team has and the mentality Di Francesco has instilled in his players. There is no Nainggolan no Alisson and as of yesterday no Strootman despite those key losses they were able to battled and fight back against a strong team. Which proves that Di Francesco deserved equal credit in the Barcelona come back because he made it happen again. On Icing on the back was Kostas Manolas once again coming up big in the clutch as his goal completed a comeback that didn’t seem possible at half time Romans never quite its in the DNA to fight back.
Atalanta is the real deal
Despite blowing the 3-1 lead it was an incredibly positive performance for Atalanta. Florentina, Torino, Sassuolo all have been mentioned as possible dark horse candidates this season. This Atalanta team is very much in that conversation based on what we have seen so far this season. They have everything needed to make a major push this season. They nearly beat a top 3 that Roma is. They didn’t just perform well they dominated Roma Especially in that first half. They caused major issues to a Roma team that is viewed as one of the best in the country. Atalanta when they are rolling are very hard to top when they go forward they are incredibly dangerous. Against some of the lesser opposition in Italy they ripped through Roma viciously in that first half. If this team can do that against Roma just imagine what kind of damage they can cause against the rest of the league. This team can build on this performance as they have the skills and ability to set the league a light to possibly push for another Europa league spot in hopes of a three straight European season. They have a star with Papu Gomez a physical Zapata a good defense a decent keeper and young talent with Musa and Rigoni showing their quality. The is one of the most underrated teams in Serie A they have quality throughout this team last night displayed exactly why they are a dark horse,
Di Francesco Adjustments Changed the game
Situationally Eusebio Di Francesco is in a league of his own the reason he is considered one of the best managers in Italy and one of the best young managers in Europe. His tactics and decisions he makes in crucial situations. In certain moments he knows exactly how to change the shape of his team with when the tides are down this was no different he had a mountain to climb trying to fight back from two goals down its hard especially in this league. Roma were down 3-1 a frustrated and angry Di Francesco wanted to swap out his entire team however he made two important changes the helped his team regain the momentum. EDF make the smart tactical decision taking out Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini who were dreadful. As Di Francesco brought in a speedy quick Justin Kluivert and Steven Nzonzi. This move changed Roma’s formation as Pastore sat back to the midfield and Kluivert pushed forward while Nzonzi aligned in a midfield line of Pastore,Florenzi and De Rossi. This tactical change added athleticism and explosiveness as Roma moved to the back three. This switch in tactics allowed the Roman attack to open up as they slowly began to carve open the Atalanta defense. Kluivert was brilliant down the wing and Roma had both Under and Kluivert forcing Atlanta defense to play on their heels. Meanwhile Nzonzi was unbelievable in the midfield making really strong smart passes that allowing the channels to open up. Nzonzi saved Roma this point by his performance the brilliance of Di Francesco’s tactical switch got Roma back into this game as Roma pulled the game back.