Roma faced off on Saturday Night Football against 18th Place Empoli in Florence. A tough match that gave a Roma more problem then you would have expected. Empoli took a risk and attacked Roma despite their limited resources to do so. Roma were smart and practical defended extremely well against a team that despite chances were incredibly wasteful. It was a very close but Roma eventually proved their superiority as a Lorenzo Pellegrini free-kick found Steven Nzonzi who found the back of the net to give Roma a 1-0 lead. Empoli had so many opportunities in the second half but still failed to convert. Empoli even had a chance to equalize when given a penalty in the second half but again failed when it counted. Roma seemingly were holding on for dear life as the Empoli attack despite their wasteful kept on coming. However Roma were smart and found ways to break through with just minutes remaining in the match Edin Dzeko converted on a late strike to seal the deal in what was a 2-0 victory for Roma. Roma find themselves in the top six after a disaster start to the season having won four consecutive games it was an important win for Roma as the head into the international break with continued confidence and momentum a dejected Empoli have only themselves to blame for their inability to steal a point which they very easily could have done.
A Change of Formation has turned season around
Eusebio Di Francesco last season has success with the 4-3-3 formation. A Formation he has used most of his career and it worked last season as he guided Roma to a third-place finish and a Champions League semi-final. With Roma’s team last season it worked well with this year’s Squad it has imploded in the 4-3-3 formation. DiFrancesco ultimately found himself on the hot seat after leading Roma to their worst start in 8 seasons. Roma were primarily looking at other options as the team continued to struggle. The 4-3-3 formation was not working with his team so this prompted a change. DiFrancesco adjusted it’s formation experimenting with the 4-2-3-1 formation a decision that has seemingly saved their season. Roma now look like a team that that’s going to be extremely dangerous in the league and in Europe. Since making the adjustment Roma have yet to lose a game they have won four consecutive games in all competitions. During this run Roma have scored a 14 goals while only conceding one. This included an important and emotional 3-1 Victory against Derby Rivals Lazio in the Derby of Rome. Roma Now find themselves in the top six for the first time this season as they now have the ammo and confidence to push forward to really crack into that top three as they want to announce themselves as contenders. The team has played with much more fluidity and have attacked with much more success shooting out of this formation. Edin Dzeko got out of his slump having scored only one goal this season before the change he now has five and is back to performing away we are accustomed to seeing from the big man. Let’s say this formation not only saved the Roma season but saved DiFrancesco his job this is now a team to be reckoned with something that would be hard to believe given how they started the season. You must give a lot of credits to DiFrancesco for making the change when his team needed it the most.
Empoli’s missed opportunities
The relegation side had so many opportunities to capitalize on and have failed miserably over the 90 minutes. The clinical ability in front of goal cost them points in this match a game in which they possibly could have stolen a point from Roma. Empoli racked up 19 shots twice as many as Roma. With all those opportunities and they continuously shot themselves in the foot less than 20% of their shots were on target most of them missed miserably. Robin Olsen and 19 shots hit in his Direction only four of them were on target. Much of the game he didn’t even have to move as they were so horribly timed and executed. There was some positivity to be taken from their performance but is became irrelevant due to their inability to finish off their chances. There’s one chance in particular that cost themselves the game. Empoli had a chance to equalize after being given a penalty in the second half period and opportunity that could have changed the game and a point could have possibly been stolen. Unfortunately they could not deliver missing the penalty horribly it wasn’t like Robin Olson made a world-class save on the ball it was just a terrible shot. It went over the goal Olson didn’t even have to move his body. it is something that has cost them so much they quite simply blew it. this team is going to have a hard time fighting off relegation if it can’t find a Target I’m not talking about goals I’m just talking about finding the target at the very least they need to do that without any significant quality players it becomes even more important that they finish off the chances they’re given.
Steven Nzonzi Roma’s Unsung Hero
Steven Nzonzi has been one of Roma most consistent performers this season. Since being put into the starting lineup as the defensive midfielder in Roma’s new formation he has thrived as he is quietly having an exceptional season. The World Cup winner has shown his consistency over the last few weeks but in an offensive free-flowing game he gets a little bit unnoticed for all the hard work he does for the team. Roma’s ugly win highlighted his impact on the match. He ended up scoring his first goal of the season and his first goal since joining the club in the summer from Sevilla. He gave Roma the lead late in the first half on a superb Header that found the back of the net coming off a wonderfully set piece by the Lorenzo Pellegrini using his size and physicality he was able to send his powerful header into the back of the net. However that’s not all he did he was exceptional in Midfield not only in the defensive aspect but he helped create a lot of offense going forward. He completely controlled his area as he was relentless and stopping a lot of Attacking play from Empoli in its tracks. He continues to perform really well and in the process his impact on the game was highlighted. He was an unsung hero on Saturday night he was incredibly crucial to his team picking up three points. He’s consistently performing to an extremely high level but doesn’t get the credit because it’s not highlighted in enough in offensively of flowing game. In a tough match you could see the impact of Steven Nzonzi it was infectious was quite easily the best player on the pitch and was so important to his Club getting the victory Steven nzonzi simply was unplayable.
Empoli’s Surprising strategy
Empoli point of attack really surprised me you would think from a relegation team you would see more defensive football especially facing off against a big team like Roma. Empoli are still very likely to be relegated or least in danger much of the season despite that it came out aggressive. You can talk about how they were unable to deliver but they didn’t sit back and defend they went at Roma whenever they had the chance. Despite not having the necessary players to break down Roma they went after it and risked everything trying to squeeze out a point. They quite easily could have sat back and tried to defend an all-out Roma attack instead they went after it early. Empoli had twice as many chances as Roma in this match. It was a very risky move considering the unbalanced comparison and quality. As I mentioned there’s clinical finishing was terrible but they got themselves in position much of the game. I came away having so much respect for their team I really admired their strategy in a game that quite clearly were overmatched. Empoli wasn’t punished for their strategy they were punished for their poor finishing but their strategy worked and we’re unlucky not to at least get a goal in this match. There’s a lot of ways to break it down in terms of all the negative things they did but I think you can look at their performance in a positive way at least from the outset of how they went after Roma it was a huge risk but nonetheless it worked the majority of the game that’s not the reason they lost and they should continued their approach going forward the strategy worked the execution failed.
Roma battle tested in Ugly win
Roma on paper are far superior to Empoli going into this match very few thought it was going to be a tough test. However I believe they came at them in a different way and it took awhile for Roma to break through. Roma should have handled them quite easily but it took some grinding and some adversity overcome an ugly battle away from home on a cold night in Florence. There were times throughout this game where the result was unclear even with the 1-0 lead Roma never looked comfortable. It wasn’t a typical fluid attacking from this very dangerous Roma team. It took awhile for Roma to overcome what was in front of them despite they’re huge advantages Roma or giving a tough test. What made the difference was in front of goal when they had their opportunities even though they didn’t come as frequently as they usually do they were able to take advantage. It may have been an ugly one but games like these are important in a long season this may become crucial it was not easy Roma had to work incredibly hard but in the end they won the battle to win a very tough match away from home.