After overcoming a tenacious Torino side in a five-goal thriller, Roma are back in the top four – awaiting Lazio and Milan results. While the Giallorossi’s performance against the Granata was far from flawless, it’s safe to assume that Eusebio Di Francesco has regained control of his troops, at least for the time being.
Roma are now seven points behind third-placed Inter and have given themselves some breathing space from the battle occurring in the lower top-half of the table. With four victories in their last five Serie A fixtures, the Lupi have been given a sniff of the top four once again. Suddenly, the mood around the Stadio Olimpico doesn’t look that grim anymore – providing Di Francesco’s men keep up this consistency and the club doesn’t sell any of its stars in this transfer window, of course.
Playing with character against Walter Mazzarri’s Torino was one of the main factors that benefited Roma. The Giallorossi mustered a tremendous fighting spirit to clinch the winner, especially after blowing a 2-0 lead. Beating this resilient Toro side – who were undefeated in their away fixtures until now – was the ideal start for La Magica’s resurgence in the second half of the season. The intense affair also brought the best out of starlets Nicolò Zaniolo and Lorenzo Pellegrini, indicating that the Giallorossi must continue to nurture their promising youngsters.
Zaniolo had to score another dramatic goal, one that left veteran goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu outraged. The 19-year-old midfielder ran rings around the Granata’s defenders – highlighting his confidence and maturity at such a young age. The Italian revelation may not boast a robust and Roman gladiator frame, but his physicality and athleticism to fend off his opponents is an extraordinary spectacle to see.
Zaniolo now has two goals in 11 Serie A appearances, showing that the Giallorossi have discovered their new talismanic midfielder, especially with Daniele De Rossi's playing days almost coming to an end. But most importantly, the Italian youngster’s elegant and technical playing style means Roma might have their new trequartista, a fresh alternative to Pellegrini.
Lorenzo Pellegrini was also another Italian youngster who performed exceptionally well in the Roma-Torino game. His peach of an assist for Stephan El Shaarawy’s winner was delightful on the eye. The 22-year-old midfielder now has six assists in all competitions so far this season, meaning he could be the ideal candidate to play alongside Bryan Cristante as another dynamic midfielder behind the trident of Cengiz Under, Justin Kluivert and Zaniolo.
Another player who stepped up in Roma’s crucial win was El Shaarawy, the replacement for when Under sustained a thigh injury early on. While Il Faraone has struggled to cement a place within Di Francesco’s starting XI this season, the versatile winger proved he can be a game changer. Drawing the foul to earn the penalty and calmly slotting home the winner shows how essential El Shaarawy’s services can be for the Giallorossi going forward, especially now with the chance to take Under’s spot.
While there were many positives to take away from Roma’s decisive victory, there are one or two issues the team still needs to address before they get too carried away. Once again, the Romans gave up a seemingly unassailable lead through lazy defending. For a moment, after Cristian Ansaldi equalised for Torino in the 67th minute, the Lupi looked certain of repeating the same fate as the game against Cagliari in Sardinia earlier this season. But Roma’s attitude has come a long way since that fiasco, highlighting that they have eliminated at least some of the fragile mentality from their game.
If Roma are to concede less, they will probably need to purchase another centre-back – someone with the same calibre as Kostas Manolas. Atalanta’s Gianluca Mancini could link well the Greek defender, and even bringing back Medhi Benatia wouldn’t be such a bad idea.
While Roma have still managed to net the goals, Edin Dzeko has gone nine games without scoring in Serie A. The Bosnian striker missed a couple of clear-cut chances in the Roma-Torino game, posing serious questions about his position in the team. The No 9 has been inconsistent domestically so far this campaign, but his five goals in the Champions League group stages were vital. The Romans need to ensure Dzeko immediately rediscovers his goalscoring form, otherwise the team will need to rely on Patrik Schick to put in outstanding performances on a consistent basis.
Apart from the minor problems in defence and the striker conundrum, Roma’s latest victory over Torino couldn’t have been any more important for Di Francesco. At last, the Lupi are back in the hunt for a top four finish in Serie A.