Corriere dello Sport (Alberto Polverosi) Napoli won with another fantastic brace from Mertens and now the race for second place has opened up again, but the race for the title is now almost certainly over after yesterday’s game. Roma will fall 10 points behind Juve, if the reigning champions win in Udine. While the league table might now be a bit more of a cause for concern, as are the 3 consecutive defeats at the Olimpico in 3 different competitions, more pressing for Spalletti are some bitter reflections on his team’s mistakes (as well as his own), on the declining physical condition of his team and on their inability to react to things going wrong, both from one game to the next and within the 90 minutes themselves.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (Chiara Zucchelli) “There’s not much to say but there’s lots to do.” Exactly a year ago, on 26th January, 2016, Stephan El Shaarawy came to Trigoria saying these words. Following his unsuccessful spell with Monaco, he and his brother had landed at Fiumicino the night before to be welcomed by general indifference. The striker signed for Roma with two aims in mind: to show that, at 23 years old, he could still reach his potential, and to get into Italy’s squad for the European Championships. He achieved both during an outstanding 6 month spell: 8 goals and 2 assists in 18 games, scoring with his right foot, his left foot and his head; he has an exemplary relationship with the fans; and his relationship with Spalletti was a carrot-and-stick one, but the coach made both El Shaarawy and Roma soar.
During their time together at Genoa, Gian Piero Gasperini constantly told Diego Perotti: “Smile, Diego, have a laugh once in a while.” When he brought Perotti to Genoa, the Argentine was a shadow of the man who had once been one of Europe’s hottest properties. Just a couple of years ago, it seemed like he was finished – so much so that Sevilla, who had previously set his release clause at €48m, were prepared to let him go to Genoa for just €350,000 plus a 10% sell-on fee. Now, Perotti is a new man, capable once again of taking on players with ease and confidence. As Roma and Perotti prepare to face Gasperini, currently in charge at Atalanta, it’s worth reflecting on his rise to fame at Sevilla, his downward spiral through injury, and his hard climb back to the top.
La Gazzetta dello Sport (Chiara Zucchelli) Rehearsals before the African Cup of Nations? It may be too soon to tell, but even so, during yesterday’s friendly at Trigoria against the Primavera, Luciano Spalletti may have given the first indication of his plans when he used a 3-4-3 formation against Alberto De Rossi’s team. Perotti played more on the right hand side of the attack than El Shaarawy – il Faraone was therefore able to play on his preferred wing, and that is probably not just a coincidence. Just as it may not have been a coincidence that Spalletti continued to insist on playing a 3 (and a half) man defence, which could be entrenched as Roma’s Plan A now that Rudiger has returned to full fitness.
Roma are out of the Champions League after succumbing to Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, but while their exit may not have been unsurprising for long periods of the game it looked like it could have ended very differently. An aggregate defeat by a hefty 4-0 scoreline is hard to argue to be undeserved, but it’s certainly hard on Roma and combine the refereeing decisions from the first leg and the incredible amount of missed chances in the second leg and it’s certainly arguable that the Giallorossi had an opportunity to progress.
Roma marched onto 7 straight league wins on Friday night with a win over Fiorentina that was far more comfortable than was expected. Although the Viola were outclassed by Tottenham in the Europa League, they held Napoli to a draw last week and were unbeaten in 7 coming into the game. In the end though, Roma scored 4 and could have had a couple more, while Fiorentina’s only goal was a disputed penalty.
Up until the 50th minute, everything was going smoothly. Roma were in control of the game, and should already have been more than a goal to the good by the time that Diego Perotti expertly lashed past Emiliano Viviano five minutes into the second half. There were periods before half time (mostly in the first 20 or so minutes) that had seen Roma play some really good football, knocking it around quickly trying to stretch Sampdoria’s deep defence out of position.