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Monday August 27 2018
Prosecco Football

Roma's 3-3 draw with Atalanta rounded out a weekend of sparkling Calcio and Giancarlo Rinaldi is loving this devil-may-care Serie A.

If the mindset of a league can be judged by the performances of its European qualifiers, Serie A has gone gung-ho. Where once upon a time such clashes would dish out their goals with parsimony, they are now sprinkling them around like the chocolate dust on your cappuccino.

Watching Roma and Atalanta go head to head was much better value than seeing two top YouTubers trading punches on pay-per-view, even if the outcome - a draw - was the same.

The purists will probably tell you that such high-scoring encounters say more about a team’s deficiencies than its strengths. Certainly, nobody would be tipping either of these two sides to finish with the tightest back-line in the division. However, they both served up huge dollops of play to suggest they can still be major protagonists this season. Not perfect, perhaps, but all the more gripping for their foibles and failings.

Roma’s fall and rise in their second league outing was as dramatic as that of the city’s empire. An audacious piece of skill from Javier Pastore gave them a lead, but they were then blown away by their visitors. It took a change of personnel and the slow and almost inevitable deflation of Atalanta’s energy to turn things around. By the end, they might well have snatched victory.

The first half looked for all the world like a mournful ode to the loss of Kevin Strootman. Many Giallorossi fans got out of their beds on Monday morning irked by the news of his imminent departure to rejoin Rudi Garcia at Olympique de Marseille.

The opening 45 minutes will have done little to improve their mood, with Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini so ineffectual that few would have noticed when they were hooked at half-time. With midfield enforcer Radja Nainggolan and stellar goalkeeper Alisson Becker already long gone, they looked like a team which had lost its way. It appeared there would be tears in many a post-match plate of cacio e pepe.

But the boys from Bergamo - fielding a largely second string with Europe on their minds - eventually started to wilt while substitutes Steven Nzonzi and Justin Kluivert appeared to make a difference. It wasn’t tactically perfect, but at least Eusebio Di Francesco’s side showed heart.

They drove on for a draw that suggested that if they started matches with the two men they brought on at the interval, then they might have more to offer. It will take time to adjust to some big changes in the squad, but there were flickers of hope in the courage of this recovery.

As for Atalanta, their supporters must be grinning from ear to ear these days. Everything Gian Piero Gasperini does at the moment seems to work to perfection. He came within a whisker of pulling off a victory in Rome while resting most of the men he hopes will see his side progress in the Europa League.

Despite the major change of personnel, they remained the same snarling, stylish and in-your-face outfit we have come to expect. It bodes well for another good year on two fronts.

The fact that both teams conceded three goals, of course, raises question marks about their defensive qualities, but those kinds of corrections can wait. For now, pour yourself a prosecco and enjoy the sparkle that Italian football is splashing about at the moment.

Time will tell how it fares against its continental rivals but, for the time being, it is delivering a bubbly start to the Serie A season with 33 goals in 10 games this weekend. Long may this new devil-may-care approach continue.

Have your say...
People here forget that Atalanta had a longer preparation for the season also going through European qualifying rounds. Without taking anything away from Atalanta they certainly played a great game but are also in better shape than Roma and that made a big difference in this game. Still the individual quality helped Roma get at least a point
on the 30th August, 2018 at 10:34pm
Someone's hungry...

Anyway, Roma's defense was atrocious. Manolas is horrible. Roma's problem is their defense.
But this doesn't take anything away from he magnificent Atalanta. What a great "team" to watch.

Oh and injury-ridden Strootman is overrated.
on the 29th August, 2018 at 6:43pm
Strootman, for years has been part of what Roma has come to symbolize; "an almost good team". He has had several years to help the team win titles, but he failed, along with Radja and others(imo).
Its time to kick all these guys out of the team and freshen things up.The next 2-3 years is for the likes of Kluivert,Under,Coric etc to show what they are capable of.
AS Roma needs winners, if it hopes to win anything this term.
on the 29th August, 2018 at 2:47pm
Sparkling calcio? Roma-Atalanta was not a professional match. It was amateur hour. Embarrassing poor defending, tactics and decisions.
on the 29th August, 2018 at 1:48am
I don't know what is going on in Rome. Losing Strootman for only €25M despite his fantastic value?
Roma really need to re examine their policy.
Meanwhile, Ante Coric should be on that pitch. He is a serious player.
on the 29th August, 2018 at 12:06am
Roma probably got the most money they were going to ever get for Strootman at this point so it's no surprise they sold him. I'm sure they'd have preferred to do so earlier in order to replace him but the way the market works now they couldn't. It'll be interesting to see how it plays out over the season but every club has there own path. I imagine next up the defense will be overhauled.
on the 29th August, 2018 at 12:03am
Mandragora got a ban for blasphemy during the 48 minute. What century are we living in guys?
on the 28th August, 2018 at 7:31pm
Never been a fan of Strootman and having a nickname like washing machine doesn’t help but the fans seem to like him. For Roma to be losing a seemingly key player to Marseille is madness. Don’t see Barcelona hijacking this deal so no need of bad jokes about buying Messi Pallotta. For Atalanta to have played on Thursday, rested key players for this game and still take a 3-1 lead speaks volumes for both clubs.
on the 28th August, 2018 at 10:54am
note for the writer - there are a lot of us that english is not our mother languish. this article is a very hard to understand. too much metaphors and sophisticated words. please consider it for next time.
tnx!
on the 28th August, 2018 at 9:08am
Have no idea what does Monchi and co have in plan when selling Kevin, but selling such a loyal player when the season has kick started seems like suicidal move, it might be that Roma and EDF won't miss him but this was a team moral blow. None is important but Totti in Roma I guess...
on the 28th August, 2018 at 8:32am

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