AS Roma came into this round of Serie A games on the back of their most impressive performance and result of the season, a 4-1 away win at Atalanta. 5th in the table and just 6 points adrift of the coveted Champions League places, a win at home vs Sampdoria before the winter break would’ve provided a much-needed boost for Jose Mourinho’s men. Instead, ending in a disappointing 1-1 draw and leaving them 6th in Serie A Jose will see this as an opportunity missed. Lining up in a 5-2-1-2 formation or 3-4-1-2 in possession, AS Roma could not convert their chances and despite having more possession and more key chances succumbed to a 1-1 draw.
- Nationality: Brazilian
- Age: 23
- Date of Birth: 23/11/1998
- Current Club: AS Roma
- Careers: PRS, Fluminense, Atalanta.
- Position: Centre Back
- Preferred foot: Right
Roger played on the left-hand side of 3-man central defence. Receiving the man of the match award from many Italian media outlets, Roger impressed in this game with his intelligent defensive work, reading of the game and his ability to progress the ball forwards. His ability to cover the defensive line due to his pace, allows Roma at times to push further up the pitch than a Jose team would normally do. His aggression in the tackle and anticipation to step into midfield to intercept the ball was also impressive at times, using all of his 6ft1 frame to his advantage. Although suspect in previous matches, aerially Roger dominated his opponent in this particular game winning all of his aerial duels.
Concentration is an area which can be improved. 52nd minute Sampdoria striker Caputo hit the inside of the post from a poor headed clearance from Ibanez, this was due to his poor concentration in the build up which left him off balance which resulted in the poor headed clearance straight into Caputo’s path. This was also evident in the Sampdoria equaliser, Roger switched off allowing his marker to gain an advantage and get Infront of him to flick the ball to the back post resulting in the game finishing 1-1.
One of Roger Ibanez’s main strengths is his ball carrying ability, comfortable in bringing the ball out of defence, he is actually top of the Fbref stats in Serie A for Progressive Distance covered with the ball at their feet moving towards their opponent’s goal. Whilst he has the ability to progress the ball forward with long vertical passes, in this particular game he preferred to keep his passes short to medium range. This is one area of his game I would like to see develop more is his progressive passes into the final third.
Despite his lapses in concentration Roger Ibanez has all the attributes to be a top European defender. He has recently been linked with a move to Arsenal and Liverpool, despite being 23 he has played less than 90 games in his career and with more experience I’m convinced he will be talked about as one of the best defenders in European football.
- Nationality: Italian
- Age: 22
- Date of Birth: 02/07/1999
- Current Club: AS Roma
- Career: AS Roma
- Position: Attacking Midfielder/ Forward
- Preferred foot: Left
Nicolo Zaniolo started off this game playing on the right side of a front two with Tammy Abraham. Often drifting out wide onto the right-hand side so he could cut in on his favoured left foot. Nicolo is being asked to play a different position this season, normally behind deployed as a winger or number 10 under Paulo Fonseca, Jose Mourinho is clearly trying to use Nicolo’s physical attributes closer to goal and playing him almost as a striker. He would often drop deeper than Tammy Abraham, trying to receive the ball in the half spaces. He did this successfully on a number of occasions, forcing the goalkeeper to make 3 good saves.
Physically very strong, uses his body well to shield the ball and turn his opponent, on a number of occasions he did this, what impressed me was his directness and his penetrative dribbles often resulting in a powerful shot at goal or excellent link up play. Deceptively quick despite his 6ft2 stocky frame also his high energy and work rate are also noticeable about his game often pressuring defenders or the goalkeeper into going long.
Later in the second half Nicolo dropped into the number 10 role behind the two strikers, which allowed him more freedom and more into the role he is used to. This tactical switch allowed him to make penetrating runs into the penalty box but also allowing him receive the ball a bit deeper and recover second balls, which is what resulted in AS Roma taking a 1-0 lead.
Rating – A1
Nicolo Zaniolo a few years ago was being touted as one of the best young players in Europe, injuries and form have derailed his career slightly but there is no doubting that Nicolo has all the attributes to eventually fulfil his potential. If Jose can get him regularly contributing in games and boost his numbers then all of the big clubs in Europe will surely come knocking again