Fantastic Roma reclaim 2nd place after Fiorentina rout

Corriere dello Sport (Alberto Polverosi) They came onto the pitch in purple, they left it beaten black and blue. Roma played some excellent football for an hour against a shell of an opponent. Fiorentina completely fell to pieces and only escaped a defeat of the same magnitude as Bologna’s against Napoli because of some poor finishing (and a few good saves from Tatarusanu). To take just 1 statistic to give a clear indication of just how dominant this 4-0 win was: Spalletti’s team took 16 shots from inside the Viola penalty area. Not even Juventus managed that many against Pescara. By humiliating Fiorentina, Roma once again overtook Napoli to edge closer to Juve, while Dzeko took his place at the top of the Serie A scoring charts in the process. While the Giallorossi celebrated, it was misery for the Viola.

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In the first half Fiorentina looked like a classic Portuguese side, a team who messed around with the ball without ever taking a shot on goal. Their Portuguese coach Sousa certainly wouldn’t have given his side that instruction, but that’s how his team played before they collapsed into the abyss inside Rome’s Olimpico: between the 30th and the 90th minute came an hour of real football from one team and an hour of amateurish football from the other. Fiorentina only had one real chance when  Chiesa tried a high lob, but he was put off by Szczesny quickly rushing out of his goal and Fazio was able to get back and clear the ball well before it looked like crossing the line.

At that point the Giallorossi seemed lifeless, and maybe this deceived the Viola, making them commit too much and lose the defensive balance that they had had up until that point. When, without warning, Roma increased the tempo, the Viola defence crumbled and fell apart almost immediately. The first real chance came on 29 minutes, created beautifully by Nainggolan as he found Bruno Peres, abandoned by his marker Borja Valero, with a glorious pass. Another chance came 2 minutes later through Dzeko (saved by Tatarusanu), but then the league’s top goalscorer found his mark. The Viola midfield left De Rossi in far too much space to look up and pick out a pass, but Sanchez was even more culpable as he tried to step up and play Dzeko offside. It was the wrong time and the wrong place for the Colombian to try that, and the Bosnian found himself all alone in the penalty area and, thanking his luck, he found the net. He could have doubled the lead soon after: after a free kick was blocked by the Viola wall, the ball dropped to his feet (at the moment the Bosnian always seems to be in the right place) but Tatarusanu made a superb save.

Fiorentina were missing Kalinic, and the support Babacar was able to provide – both physically and technically – was modest in comparison: if one team has Dzeko and the other has Babacar, that’s inevitably where the difference between them will be. Roma were missing Perotti and Salah, but they were dominant on the wings regardless, which was partly because Sanchez couldn’t cope with El Shaarawy when faced with a one-on-one. It was the same in midfield, where Borja Valero, Badelj and Vecino had no effect at all when the Giallorossi midfield of De Rossi, Strootman and Nainggolan increased their tempo and intensity. Sousa was shouting at Chiesa to get back and help defend, but Fiorentina were all at sea on his side of the pitch.

The way Fiorentina conceded the 2nd goal (as well as the 3rd and 4th) was childlike. Gonzalo gifted the ball to Dzeko before bringing him down, earning himself a yellow card into the bargain. The free kick was taken from the right hand side by De Rossi, Fazio met it with a header, 2-0. Who was marking him? Sanchez. Sousa changed things around by putting Ilicic on for Maxi Olivera, keeping a 3-man defence but now putting Bernardeschi on the left wing and Ilicic in attacking midfield. Roma weren’t the least bit concerned by this and kept on attacking, hammering home their advantage on the left hand side, the Viola’s weakest area, through Emerson Palmieri and El Shaarawy. Fiorentina were drifting, aimless and just hoping that the game would end as they kept on gifting one ball after another to Dzeko and his team-mates. Roma were still in the mood to score and made it 3-0 when Nainggolan capped off a perfect counter-attack. They still weren’t content. Astori offered up a final gift when he crumbled under pressure from Dzeko, who stole the ball off him and fired home.

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