Score: Roma 1 Lecce 0FT
Following a tough loss on Wednesday at the Stadio Olimpico against Atalanta, Roma would look to get back on track as they headed out on the road to face Lecce of the three teams that were promoted this season they have done at the best so far. They also are coming off some momentum with a win in the last time out. Lecce is coming off a double promotion having been promoted for the second consecutive season to reach the top of Italian football. Roma has not played against them in 7 years. Back in 2012 when it was actually a 4-2 win against Roma. Last season Roma would struggle in games like this matches in which Roma was heavily expected to win. It is a different age now with Paulo Fonseca at the helm Roma were determined to not repeat last year’s shortcomings against the bottom half. The match turned out to be more of a struggle then I think anyone initially expected it was a pretty back and forth battle in the opening 45 minutes. It was goalless after the first half. Roma came out firing in the second half with A much-improved performance as they continued to try to claw themselves in front. It was a header from Edin Dzeko that gave us Roma the 1-0 lead early in the second half. Roma had some other opportunities to come in front as in Lecce I continued to be a tough battle throughout. Roma had an opportunity to double their lead from the penalty spot but Kolarov was surprisingly denied. It was a tough but important 1-0 win for Roma securing all three points ahead of Europa League match Thursday to get back on the right track.
As promised Paulo Fonseca made some adjustments before the match. In Roma’s 4-2-3-1 formation the Portuguese manager made four different changes. With Roma’s Europa League match in Austria on Thursday rest was issued to some of Roma key players. In goal as always would be Paul Lopez as the Spaniard continues to impress. Roma would line up with a back four that had it two changes to the defense. At left-back would be Alex Kolarov, beside him would be the center-back partnership of Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini. Then finally at right-back dropping down after playing on the wing on Wednesday would be Roma Captain Alessandro Florenzi. Roma with a change in their defensive Midfield. As Jordan veretout gets another start meanwhile Diawara makes his first start of the season for Roma. In the attacking Midfield in the central position as always will be Lorenzo Pellegrini. On the left when we would see Hendrick Mkhitaryan. That on the opposite side patrolling the right-wing would be Justin Kluivert. Upfront as the main Striker would be the Bosnian edin Dzeko. A strong lineup that gives rest to Nicolo zaniolo, Leonardo Spinazzola and Bryan cristante.
The match was just about to get underway far from Rome in Lecce. The match kicked off on a sunny Sunday afternoon. After preparations and predictions, the match began. Roma had somewhat control in the opening moments of the match as they are much the better team and at least at some points it certainly looked like it in the match. Just minutes into the game Alex Kolarov tried to strike from distance but was denied by the keeper. Lorenzo Pellegrini saw his shot blasted over the goal just a minute later. Despite Roma’s early chances Lecce we’re very much in the game. They did a good job with their backline and were moments in which they looked dangerous on the break. A few minutes later Paul Lopez denied a strike from inside the box. Lecce came close again when ababacar missed from close range. It was a game in which it was more evenly matched than I think anyone was expecting. Roma was the better team throughout this game but they weren’t backing down and was sincerely up for the challenge that was posed in front of them. A little later controversy struck when Roma we’re not giving a penalty that certainly looked like one. There was a handball in the box that was not called. Chris Mullin tries to break the game Open putting his head through a cross coming off a corner that just missed the target. Another potential penalty was ignored it yet again as the game continued. Hendrick Mkhitaryan was knocked over in the box after the goalkeeper Came out to try to grab the ball. It was unclear if he was in the box or not but nonetheless a foul should have been called. Not only that but Mkhitaryan was called for the foul on the play and was given a yellow card. The referee made some pretty strange decisions in the early parts of the game. Near the half-hour mark, Pau Lopez denied a shot from Falco. Lecce was coming and the looked increasingly dangerous at certain moments but Pau Lopez was prepared for everything the home side threw at him. At the end of the first half, there was a collection of Lecce opportunities as they looked more dangerous. Even though Roma had the bulk of The Possession Lecce we’re creating enough opportunities and chances using their possession that they did have a very wisely. Chris Smalling and Kolarov had a couple of late chances to pull a Roma in front. However after 45 minutes that was somewhat of a struggle for Roma in a goalless first half.
Roma struggled in the first half Lecce was giving them a game even though Roma controlled possession and we’re slightly the better team the opportunities were coming for the hosts as they had their eyes on the possibility of pulling off a huge upset. Nonetheless, Roma, we’re still standing firm and the game slowly was likely to open up despite a slow start from Roma. However, things started to change in the second half it was very flat in the first half they started to evolve and grow into the game much more than they had previously in the opening 45 minutes. They still had the ball first possession but was controlling it into their momentum they were finally starting to grab some superiority. Roma started fast and furious in the second half. Diawara missed from distance to start the second half. Just shortly after Hendrick Mkhitaryan came dangerously close to putting Roma in the lead. Being beautifully set up by Edin Dzeko in the box with a through ball the Armenian Winger but didn’t have the proper touch as he took a shot just wide. It was very clear that Roma was an entirely different team during the second half and the goal was coming you could just feel it. The game broke open in the 56th minute. Justin kluivert did an excellent job of stealing possession in the area before applying the ball into Mkhitaryan. The Armenian sent a perfect cross into Edin Dzeko the Bosnian put its head through the ball putting the ball into the back of the net to give at Roma the 1-0 lead. It would be Edin Dzeko’s fifth goal of the season.
After somewhat of a slow start to the match Roma has started to get that momentum and took advantage of it. Excellent communication as Roma take the deserving lead. They have been a completely different team since they came out of the half whatever Paulo Fonseca said to his team has proven it has worked. Lecce was still doing a respectable job on a much Superior Roma side but all the momentum was with Roma. Their game starts to open up which allowed them to attack more freely. Meanwhile defensively they were doing a really great job limiting their chances in the second half. With a little over 20 minutes to go Justin kluivert tried to strike from deep but misfired. Despite him being unable to score Justin kluivert looks really strong in this game as you can see his continued development. A few minutes later Lorenzo Pellegrini picked up what looked like an apparent injury really bad news if it is serious however the injury to the Roma midfielder forced Paulo Fonseca to go to his bench as Nicolo Zaniolo came in. Pau Lopez continued to display his consistency making yet another save denying Shakhov. Roma would make their second change as Alessandro Florenzi will come out for Leonardo Spinazzola. Minutes after the substitution Roma had a terrific chance to increase their lead. They were given a penalty after a handball in the Box. However Lecce goalkeeper blank denied Kolarov making a great save on a well-taken penalty. Just a minute later Chris Smalling came close as he put his head through the cross but the goalkeeper made the save. Chris Smalling was just special in this game Defensively as well as on set-pieces. Roma remained in cruise control But put together some late chances in stoppage time to try to increase the advantage. Justin kluivert tries to get his head through an Alex Kolarov cross but there was very little that could be done about it as his shot goes wide. Then in the closing moments of the game, Nicolo zaniolo made a serious lapse in judgment. The young Italian cut through the defense on a breakaway as Justin kluivert was just beside him but it was a terrible touch. Justin kluivert was wide open and left alone it what would have a goal. Time expired as Roma would hold on to secure a very important yet tough win as they get back on the right track with a massive three points.
Roma coming into this game we’re coming off an incredibly disappointing display against Atalanta at home at the Stadio Olimpico. Before that match, Roma had momentum and confidence. Roma comes to Lecce and a beat the recently promoted side in a very tough battle in what ended up as a 1-0 victory. This is a massive result for Roma especially to come out in a match that had its difficulties, especially in the first half. Roma’s biggest problem last season was there inability to beat teams at the bottom of the table. Those are the most important results of the season because you’re expected to pick up those points and win those matches and over the last several seasons it’s something that Roma has really struggled with. Lecce is not one of the best teams in the league but a match like this proves how important a result like this could turn out to be at the end of the season. It was an ugly match that had some rough moments but they got to the end of the game. Roma has had its fair issues defensively and it’s something we may not see very often but nonetheless, it felt like incredibly important. Everyone around them picked up with victories this weekend and Roma needed to stay the pace. Roma has the team around them to fight for a Champions League spots and I believe they will get back into the Champions League next season. This team has a different identity and there’s more belief as it is a unified a locker room that has displayed effort never giving up on any game something that last season was a constant issue. Edin Dzeko has been as good as any striker in the league this season after being incredibly disappointing last year. Fonseca has got the best out of him and he’s only going to continue to get service and score goals. The young nucleus showed some promise Justin kluivert who continues to improve and impress me every single match. I’m going to say this about a hundred times before the season is over he has made more progress in his development than any player on Roma this season and even though he failed to impact the game in the way he likes I think we know what he’s capable of doing. this is a very difficult game on the road and they get three points. They have to keep this energy through the next several weeks because this Roma team is capable of something special. You want to be able to perform at the highest level against teams like this but relegation sometimes is the hardest to get results again because they know what they’re fighting. Tonight a lot of players deserve credit but Chris Smalling was A Touch of Class against everyone. He showed some real qualities was an absolute Force defensively he won every Ariel ball the intercepted passes he got his team going forward Chris Smalling was just special certainly the best defensive performance we have seen this season from Roma. He showed everyone that he can still perform at the highest level it was a breathtaking display as he earns the man-of-the-match quite easily. If Chris Smalling can perform near this level for the entire season Roma can improve and display better defensive performances if Roma fixed their Defensive sky’s the limit.
MAN OF MATCH: Chris Smalling