Score: A.S Roma 2 FC Empoli 0FT
Following huge win in the Champions League on Tuesday and a victory in the Roman Derby Roma travel to Florence to take on relegation-threatened Empoli. As a Roma looked to keep their momentum and confidence going and hopes of their third consecutive win after their disastrous start to the season. The club’s haven’t played since the 2015-2016 campaign in which Roma won the season series. Empoli coming into this game were without a win as they find themselves in serious trouble early in the season despite their recent draw with AC Milan. They quite simply do not match up with this attacking oriented Roma side. However Empoli made it harder than expected on this potent Roma attack. On the road Empoli made it really tough on Roma throughout the match. A very balanced first half ended with Lorenzo Pellegrini connecting with Steven nzonzi to give Roma the 1-0 lead. In the second half Empoli were given a penalty but were unable to convert. Empoli attacked Roma on a consistent basis as they had far more opportunities but they were incredibly wasteful which truly cost them. At the very end of the match edin Dzeko doubled the Roma’s lead to earn Roma a hard-fought victory in Florence. Roma heading to the international break continuing their winning run extending their win streak to four consecutive victories. The change of formation had saved Roma Season from disaster and the job security of DiFrancesco. Roma rocket up the table into the top six as they finally look within Striking Distance of competing with the top four an ugly win but an important victory.
Eusebio di Francesco as expected kept his 4-2-3-1 formation as is. The formation change has turned around Roma season so I found it unlikely that he was going to adjust it. However there will be some modifications with the Roma team with several players being switched in and out. In goal Roma’s would be the Swede Robin Olsen. In Roma’s defensive line their would be an unorthodox change as DiFrancesco gave Luca Pellegrini his first start in the Serie A at left back. Beside him would be the centre-back partnership of Federico Fazio and Kostas Manolas. Then at the last fast position would be Davie Stanton who has shown a real progress this season. In front we would see The Return of the defensive Midfield pair of Roma Captain Daniele de Rossi and Steven Nzonzi. We would see a very enthusiastic attacking Midfield. In central Midfield would be Lorenzo Pellegrini who has been playing like an animal as of late as he adjust to his new position in which he has thrived. On the left wing we would see the return of Stephen El Shaarawy in the starting lineup. Then on the right one would be the talented Turk Cengiz under. In what could be a very dangerous midfield for Roma. Then up front would be the ever dangerous Edin Dzeko who is on record watch this week only needing two goals to move to 9th on Roma’s all time scoring list coming off a hat-trick performance at a Champions League. A very strong lineup with options Off the Bench with the likes of Brian Cristante Alexandro Florenzi and Diego Perotti.
After preparations and prediction for Roma’s final match before International break we were they were just about to kick off in Florence. As Empoli hosted Roma on a cold Saturday night in Florence. Would Roma continue their winning run or have issues with another team closer to the bottom. How the game started took me by surprise. In the opening 60 seconds of the game Empoli provided a very early chance. As Krunic ambitious touch was handled by Robin Olsen. Roma almost immediately hit back as Cengiz Under took a well time powerful shot and drove it into the top corner but fortunately for Empoli their goalkeeper made a great save in front of their home fans. Empoli responded again with another chance but Leonardo Capozzi horribly missed on a free kick. Empoli seemed to take some serious risks and attacking the Roma but it was a game that despite not having the majority of the possession they found at their ways to get into dangerous position. Instead of trying to defend for the point they were going forward and trying to get on the counter-attack whenever they had the opportunity. I really respected the way they came out and performed when quite clearly the obvious thing to do was defend. I wouldn’t say the game was short of chances but a lot of Roma’s opportunities were being blocked or deflected by the Empoli defense. In fact the game itself took a little while to develop very few changes in the opening 30 minutes of action. It was clear from the start this is going to be a tough but ugly match however in fairness to Roma they defended really well eliminating the opportunities. As it got later in the first half Caputo try to catch Olson slipping with a deep strike but the Swede dealt with it. Neither team was doing particularly well before an but Empoli looked a lot better than most people thought they would. The risks they took coming forward was a smart Tactical decision but as it turned out it wouldn’t matter Roma would have a breakthrough in the 36 minute. Coming off a very deep kick only from very deep Lorenzo Pellegrini sent an unbelievable cross that Steven nzonzi delivered on despite being covered he connected with his head as the ball flew in the back of the net to give Roma the 1-0 lead. His first goal for the club since he joined in the summer. Exceptional play on the set piece world class delivery from Pellegrini an exceptional job from Nzonzi who used his strength and size to drive the ball into the back of the net despite Defenders being around him situations like that is when his 6’5 frame becomes a huge Advantage he’s not only tall but he knows how to move and he got in exactly the right position to score the goal. A ugly game found its first goal Empoli now realized they needed to try to attack even more so to get back into the game their strategy didn’t collapse but it was be going to become harder. Caputo saw his shot saved moments later then as time ran out in the first half Ishmael Benicar horribly missed to end the first half with Roma up 1-0 thanks to Steven nzonzi.
Steven Nzonzi adds excitement to an otherwise quite first half
The first half wasn’t great for Roma but in a tough environment they were able to get a goal which looked like it would be decisive. In the second half it became much more attacking football for Empoli who was desperate for goals after conceiving right before the break. Zajac tried to break through for Empoli as his shot was close but sadly misfired. A few minutes later it had looked like Roma we’re going to put this game away as El Shaarawy found Cengiz Under on a counter attack the Turkish International came really close but misfired. Empoli came close yet again with Ishmael Benicar as of his strike from a set piece hit the bar making the away supporters nervous in the process. However an opportunity would arise for Empoli coming off a free kick they ball hits the hand of Cengiz Under setting up a potential penalty. The referee consulted the VAR as the penalty was given ultimately the right decision in my opinion even though he did not do it deliberately his hand was in motion. A huge moment for Empoli who had a chance to equalize Caputo stepped Up but shockingly missed terribly a very poorly hit penalty his shot Flew Over the goal missing the target completely.
Horrible Penalty miss from Empoli slash their chances as they fail to capitalize
Roma would that make their first change of the game as Alexandro Florenzi entered the game for the young Luca Pellegrini who capped off his first ever start in Serie A. Under tried to put the game away almost immediately after the change was made but his shot came off a complicated angle missing the target. The game progressed a little bit more with Empoli starting to really push forward as the majority of the chances were going in there direction. However Empoli were wasting practically every opportunity that had. Zajc missed his chance which was followed by Caputo failing on a back-to-back attempts as Robin Olsen wasn’t even challenged as they were poor touches of the ball. Roma then made the final changes of the game bringing in Bryan Cristante for Lorenzo Pellegrini and Juan Jesus for Cengiz Under in hopes of tightening up the defense preventing late goal. Chances came often for Empoli but they failed to do anything with however stealing a point wasn’t out of the question but their wasteful approach was going to bite them. The later they got in the game the more frustrated they became their clinical finishing was terrible they were doing all they needed to do but the finishing was so bad. With about 5 minutes remaining in the 85th minute Edin Dzeko punished them. Edin Dzeko took his hat trick performance on Tuesday into this match as he showed some unbelievable brilliance. Proving he truly is back in from. Coming off a Counterattack Edin Dzeko headed the ball to El Shaarawy the striker continued to make his run getting in the right position. El Shaarawy saw Edin Dzeko make his run and sent a brilliant through pass into the striker. He got the ball in the box beat his Defender to the ball requiring important ball control making a move with his feet to get free and blasted his shot into the back of the net to give Roma the 2-0 lead. A display of unbelievable concentration and speed to get through the defender before scoring his goal with a powerful touch. It would be Edin Dzeko fifth goal of the season as well as his 78th goal for Roma one goal shy of moving into 9th on Roma’s all time scoring list. It was a tough match but Dzeko gave Roma a happy ending as Time expired the the Bosnian hitman shoots Roma into the top three with the victory. Roma win their fourth consecutive match third consecutive in the league as Roma continue to have momentum and confidence going forward. They head into the international break in great spirits as it was all smiles in Florence on Saturday night.
Edin Dzeko puts the Nail in the Coffin with his 78 Roma Goal one Shy of 9th All-time
Roma end up being challenged more than expected but are able to pull out a narrow win away at Empoli. Coming into the game Roma had just beaten Plzen midweek in the Champions League with minimal rest having to face a team in need of points. After a horrendous start to the season Roma have seams to finally have got it together since these change to the 4-2-3-1 formation. Three consecutive wins before facing and unlikely test against Empoli. Roma dominated possession for much of the game and did a lot of things well but they didn’t dominate the game like I thought they would. We saw unlikely performance from Empoli they were really aggressive they attacked and put Roma under pressurized situations. They very easily could have equalized in the second half. The penalty miss right after halftime cost them dearly it would have changed the momentum of the game. Roma weren’t as aggressive and didn’t punish them as much as I thought they would they took their chances and took advantage that is what mattered. However it was an ugly game hard-fought game. Roma eventually put the game away in the second half through some Edin Dzeko brilliance but it was a tough match Roma handled the pressure well but nonetheless at times were rattled and surprised by the way in which Empoli played the game. I felt Lorenzo Pellegrini had another good game with an assist off another free-kick truly proven to have mastered his new position in central Midfield since he’s been pushed further forward he’s been more effective and his teammates have felt his impact. I also thought Under did well and attacking the goal getting himself into plenty of opportunities but it wasn’t meant to be but nonetheless a solid performance. The man of the match goes to Steven nzonzi who was easily Roma’s most brilliant player today. Not only did he get the opening goal but he was excellent defensively and contributed massively for the team getting forward whenever they had the opportunity. The holding midfielder showed absolute class. Nzonzi has completely obtained his starting spot I thought since he’s been put in the lineup he has been excellent. In a game in which there was not a lot of attack or wasn’t as Roma dominated as it usually is his performance was highlighted showing that even an unsung hero can rise to the occasion like he did. Scoring his first goal for the club in the process. DiFrancesco did what was necessary tactically to earn Roma three points with an ugly win but Roma fought through adversity to secure the win. They have jumped into the top three in the Serie A which is good progress they can finally push closer to the top of the table a little bit more. They still have that momentum and some confidence especially given the circumstances of the game the best way to go into an international brake on good form and confident which is the polar opposite of how the season started if they can maintain at this style of play we could see this Roma team being dangerous in the league and in Europe.
Man of the match: Steven Nzonzi (1)
BY THE NUMBERS
On Target: 3
Pass Accuracy: 85%
On Target: 4
Pass Accuracy: 83%
Top of the table
1.Juventus 8-0-0 24pts
2.Napoli 5-0-2 15pts
3. A.S Roma 4-2-2 14pts
4. Florentina 4-1-2 13pts
5.Inter Milan 4-1-2 12pts
Bottom of the table
16. Bologna 2-1-3 7pts
17. Atalanta 1-3-3 6pts
18. Empoli 1-2-5 5pt
19.Frosinone 0-1-7 1pt
20.Chievo 0-2-5 -1pt