Corriere dello Sport (Alberto Polverosi) It was a day for Egyptians, for Verona’s applause for Francesco Totti, for 5 goals for Roma, for closing in on 2nd place, but it was also the day that the Giallorossi set a number of new records as they closed in on the Champions League. The records Roma set yesterday were extraordinary. A record number of league victories: previously 26 in 2013/14, they now have 27 this year and have the chance to increase it further on Sunday against Genoa. A record number of away victories: previously 11, again in 2013/14, now 12 this season (obviously without the chance to extend this further). A record number of consecutive away wins: with the victory in Verona, they extended this to 7.
Against Genoa, in the final game of the Serie A season, they can set still more records. For example, the number of goals scored: they have 87 this season, the same as in 1930/31, when the league was made up of 18 team. Or the total number of points: they have 84 now, the record of 85 was set in 2013/14. And lastly one for Edin Dzeko who yesterday, when he scored to make it 5-2, equalled Enrique Guaita’s tally of 28 goals to move into joint 2nd for total goals scored in a season: only Rodolfo Volk, who scored 29 in 1930/31, is still in front of him.
These are statistics that show that Juve, in reality, are not that far away from Roma. They are stronger, of course, but not by as much as you might imagine. Spalletti’s team made big errors in all 3 cups – Champions League, Europa League and Coppa Italia – but in the league they’ve maintained a consistently high tempo. Yesterday, as soon as they put their foot on the accelerator, they blew away a Chievo side who were already on their holidays.
Roma hadn’t scored 5 goals away from the Olimpico in Serie A since June 1995, against Cremonese, which is an interesting statistic in itself. In the final 2 games of the season, Roma have scored 8 goals: 3 against Juve, 5 against Chievo. They had 19 shots in Verona, of which 12 came from inside the opposition penalty area. They are clearly proficient in attack, the problems are still in defence: who knows what happened to Manolas and Fazio’s understanding yesterday, after previously having given Roma such solidarity.
Spalletti has players in excellent physical conditions now. Salah, for example. Gobbi was (un)fortunately on his side, and the former Viola player found it impossible to contain the other former Viola player: when the Egyptian ran at him, he always beat him. There was no competition. And how about Dzeko. He is close to becoming capocannoniere (although Mertens closed the gap on him yesterday) and this season, including cups, he has scored 38 goals, and could reach 40 if Roma play on Sunday like they did in the second half. But apart from his goals, the Bosnian has worked for the team all season, such as in his fine assist for Salah’s goal to make it 4-2. We can also name De Rossi as one of the players who are most in form at the moment – he had to contain two of the opposition’s best players yesterday – Castro in the first half, Birsa in the second – and did so flawlessly.
But in the end, there will still be regrets. For how they played so badly in crucial cup ties, for the derbies lost, for the chances they have let slip by. Roma could have done more, they could have done better. Next season they will need to be more attentive: at key moments this season they have seemed confused. Think back to the start, with the elimination in the Champions League play off round against Porto, with 3 red cards in 180 minutes; that wasn’t the Roma of the last couple of games. Now they are another team, compact, reliable, self-assured. The problem is that this is how they need to be for an entire season, including when it starts in mid-August. Roma need to learn how to last.