Wednesday February 13 2019
Zan's the Man for Roma

Roma’s victory over Porto confirmed Nicolò Zaniolo’s status as a new star, but still left Giancarlo Rinaldi frustrated with the result.

If you wanted to sum up a season in one game, this wasn’t a bad effort. There was plenty to admire - most notably two magical goals from wonderkid Nicolò Zaniolo - but ultimately a feeling of frustration. Despite the victory, the celebrations were a little subdued in the Stadio Olimpico. It was a good result but, deep down, everybody knew it should have been better.

This has been Roma for much of this season, but we saw the full gamut of their personalities in one match. There was the grit and determination of Daniele De Rossi, a marvelous masterclass in the forward’s art from Edin Dzeko and some tumultuous celebration in the Curva Sud.

But there was also - thanks in no little part to misfortune - a nervous conclusion, some shaky defending and a splash of self-doubt that was so brilliantly banished in last season’s Champions League. Qualification is still there for the taking, but fans of the Giallorossi with any fingernails are unlikely to retain them during the return leg on March 6. Any result is wide open when they meet at the Estadio do Dragao.

It has been clear for large parts of this campaign that Eusebio Di Francesco’s side are low on belief and high on insecurity. It took one highly fortuitous assist that Adrian Lopez converted to undermine the delight constructed by their 19-year-old talent. This is a team that wears its emotional fragility on its sleeve.

They started the night with a good tempo, but began to look like they might be frustrated when Dzeko struck the woodwork after a neat twist and turn. However, in the second half they turned up the gas and their gifted young Tuscan took centre-stage. In truth, he had already looked the man most likely to turn things in their favour and he duly did.

Fans of the capital club were delirious, while Italy boss Roberto Mancini - despite his Laziale past - was grinning from ear to ear. There are reasons for both to be cheerful in Zaniolo’s rapid development into a class performer at the highest level.

This was Roma in full flight, but they could not quite maintain their stranglehold on the tie - an affliction which has troubled them so much this term. Just when you think they are back on the right track, something pulls them off course. This time around it was what looked like a mis-hit shot from Tiquinho Soares that ended up falling perfectly into the stride of a substitute to leave progress in the balance. Porto appeared more than capable of getting the result they need on home soil.

It will be up to the coaching staff at the Serie A side to do their best psychological work in the weeks between now and the return fixture and accentuate the positive. There was plenty to be impressed with in this display and it should not be washed away by the ultimately narrow margin of the success.

If this team believes in itself, then it can easily achieve the goal of another spot in the quarter-finals of Europe’s top club competition. And they owe it to their new talisman not to let his latest magnificent performance turn out to be in vain.

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Have your say...
I totally agree with Saba's post..Forza Italian Youth and well done Roma for having 7 Italians in their starting lineup. I'd even go as far to say that there should be a majority quota of Italians for every starting lineup in the Serie A! The philosophy for such a quota would be for Italian talent to thrive at the highest level and to benefit the Azzurri trophy cabinet. Is that
on the 17th February, 2019 at 11:52am
salute for ROMA to start the game with 7 Italians as regular. salute to EDF for giving trust on Italian players and emerging talents like Zaniolo. Hope, that shall continue and hope ROMA wins the scudetto in near future, I am absolutely 1000% with Clubs encouraging and having the trust on Italian young talents. Unlike Juventus who are anti-Italian by all means especially if they brought Mo Salah for the ridiculously amount rumored! club like Juve should invest in Italians with such huge money!
on the 16th February, 2019 at 11:45am
Zans the man. For juve hahahahaha thanks inter hahahah now you have nannygoman. Zaniolo scoring in Cl hahahah. Thanks for being a feeder club also roma, we will make good use of him next season byeeee and thanks again. Im just joking ppl i dont care if juve gets him or not. Or am i? Hahahahaha
on the 14th February, 2019 at 9:32pm
Roma4life is speaking truth. If either Under, Schick or Perotti are available for the return leg, DeFra has more attacking options and reason to put Pellegrini in his preferred role. Stack an already impressive midfield and good luck Porto, at they will need to rely on Casillas to steal a game from Roma which isn't likely at his age. He doesn't move the same way and to be quite honest, if Roma didn't shoot directly at him the scoreline could have been 4-0 easily. Porto is a flop in CL.
on the 14th February, 2019 at 9:11pm
Jeremy is right, yes yes yes. DO NOT GO TO JUVE. Probably on the bench, because the senators need to play, wasting away just so others can't have you, no appreciating your ability. And if Roma sell, then Pallotta really is just bothered about real eatate.
on the 14th February, 2019 at 11:55am
Agree with many of the comments on here. The long list of youngsters who are looking like the real deal is very promising for the Azzuri's future. No more over hyping players who don't turn out to be what we expected, genuinely look like being top players this time. Don't let the media pile too much pressure on them though and slate them after just one bad performance. They're young and will get better. The future's bright, the future's Azzuri!
on the 14th February, 2019 at 7:33am
Keep this boy away from Juve if he moves there his career is over.
He needs to stay at Roma where he can develope through actually playing week after week in Serie A and Europe.
There is a handful of very good youngsters around at the moment and it's great to see but Serie A big boys seem to be great at ruining great young talent lets hope this doesn't happen here!
on the 14th February, 2019 at 7:20am
He is flourishing now becuase he got out from under a talent suppressing badly run club. I bet everday he thinks good riddance Inter
on the 14th February, 2019 at 6:14am
Things are looking up for the Azzurri! Zaniolo is 19 and already on the cusp of world class. What a player! :)
on the 14th February, 2019 at 12:53am
He's being sold to Juve for 80 million Euros in the summer. I am going to reinvest that money into Kolorov's new contract. I just haven't told the fans yet, because they'll stop coming to the games.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 11:34pm
if we are talking poor swap deals pirlo for Brnčić brocchi for guly that was just one summer for inter
on the 13th February, 2019 at 10:00pm
@ Ron - don't forget the deal that brought Francesco Coco to Inter for Clarence Seedorf !
on the 13th February, 2019 at 6:32pm
Things finally looking up for Italy. We have Donnarumma, Calabria, Cutrone, Zaniolo, Kean, Romagnoli, Tonali, Barella, Chiesa, Conti, Gagliardini, Caldara plus more all coming through and all looking very promising. Hopefully this generation can take Italy back to where they belong on the world stage.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 6:31pm
Props to Roma for fielding 7 Italians in the starting Xl and beating Porto in Rome! The job is half done, now to only to finish it. Cristante, Pellegrini were impressive, and Zaniolo, wow, proving he is a real star in the making.
Inter crazy to let him go for aging Nainggolan.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 5:11pm
Roma looked good and kept the game mostly in Porto's half, but the lapses in defensive concentration are concerning. Also passing for both sides was quite sloppy. Hoping Roma can get an early goal in the second leg and finish off Porto!
on the 13th February, 2019 at 3:51pm
Finally more Italians playing first team football, the rest of Italian clubs should take note. Have patience invest in the youth development, move on from buying average and over age has beens. This will be good for Serie A, European football and the national team.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 2:13pm
Roma in the Finals!
Wishes from a Napoletano
on the 13th February, 2019 at 12:49pm
I still have issue with roma selling their key midfield players i don't understand why they let go of strootman and radja at the same time.

However Zaniolo does justify radja transfer at least in being the best bargain in serie a this season. This kid is performing at such a high level at such a young age it makes me optimistic to see what kind of player he could become. even with a 15% sell on fee inter will be kicking themselves this transfer for years.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 12:33pm
Even though I'm a Juventino, I'm happy for Roma to have done the job at home, though I expected them not to concede an away goal. Even though it was always going to happen, but at least Roma didn't concede 2 at home. C'est la vie.

Now onwards to Porto and expect Roma to win or play to a high-scoring draw (2-2). Anything else is shameful TBH...

PS: Zaniolo's rise can only be a boon for La Nazionale, we can finally send overrated Balotelli to whatever provincial side he truly belongs.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 9:38am
First of all, Roma may sit below Inter in Serie A classifica yet we have more benefits for "exchanging" Radja with Nicolo. Unpredictable player indeed, great job by Monchi.
Secondly, let this kid enjoy his game per game. Don't let fame ruin his performance.
Third, Roma MUST do any way possible to tie Nicolo for a long period. Stop being feeder club.
Fourth, defense, again poor defense. This should be major concern for next season.

on the 13th February, 2019 at 4:51am
Is Zaniolo the real deal?? He seems to have come out of no where... Don't even think he was that highly touted as an under 21. Wow, what a trajectory.. might be the most explosive entrance onto the big stage by a young Italian footballer since Balo
on the 13th February, 2019 at 4:37am
Nice performance!
on the 13th February, 2019 at 4:25am
Give away a cheap goal to Porto will cost you a serious problem in Stadion do Dragão. I'm afraid Zaniolo can't help you there.
on the 13th February, 2019 at 3:54am
Zaniolo plus 24m and Santon for Nainggolan is only one step behind that famous Cannavaro and Carini swap. Good job Inter!
on the 13th February, 2019 at 3:46am
A great game with an unfortunate finish. I am not terribly concerned by the paper tiger that is Porto. They produced almost nothing and scored off a very lucky bounce. Conversely, Roma looked dangerous pretty much the whole game.

Add to this that Roma is likely to have more attacking options by the second leg (Under, Perotti, maybe even Schick), Marega is nowhere near close to healing, and the weird phenomenon of Roma just being much better on the European stage than in Serie A...
on the 13th February, 2019 at 2:04am

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