Sunday February 7 2021
Fonseca flatters to deceive

A promising display from Roma against Juventus should not overshadow their coach’s inability to get results when the chips are down, writes Owen Diana.

There are no moral victories in football. Paulo Fonseca said as much in his post-match press conference following a 2-0 defeat to the reigning champions that will leave a bittersweet taste in Roman mouths.

Saturday’s valiant effort could be something to build on, but only if the Portuguese overcomes his own inferiority complex.

Although a loss at the Allianz Stadium continues the Giallorossi’s wretched record against the Serie A aristocracy, their spirited showing represents a marked improvement on previous performances in crunch clashes.

Fonseca deserves a large slice of credit for that, with his deployment of the tried-and-true 3-4-2-1 formation allowing La Lupa to dominate the early exchanges.

The visitors looked the more dangerous side until Cristiano Ronaldo’s clinical finish, and they never stopped trying to knit pretty patterns through the Old Lady. Their attacking ambition was commendable, and they ended the encounter with healthy advantages in corners (9-2) and shots (14-3).

Rather than turn the screw in the second half, however, the 47-year old chose to maintain the status quo.

His decision to hook Gonzalo Villar for the less adventurous Amadou Diawara was puzzling, while he kept three-center backs on the pitch for the duration of the contest against an opponent content to sit back and hit on the counterattack.

Fonseca declaredthat his side’s front-footed approach obligated the hosts to adopt such a reactive outlook, an assertion that Andrea Pirlo refutedin his comments following the final whistle.

Regardless of the degree to which Roma forced their foe into a cautious setup, the salient point is that they failed to take even a point against another top four rival.

That’s now no wins, four losses, and three draws in seven clashes with fellow top seven members this season. Those struggles against the Peninsula’s premier outfits did not prevent La Lupa from traveling to Turin perched in third place, and they are still in the thick of the chase for Champions League qualification.

Nevertheless, their problems against the country’s best teams leaves zero margin for error in meetings with the division’s more modest foes.

Archnemesis Lazio are in hot pursuit, while Napoli and Atalanta sit only three points back in the race for fourth spot. Missing out on a ticket to Europe’s elite club competition would surely spell the end of Fonseca’s time in charge.

As the recent Deloitte Money League rankingsaffirm, Roma are far from the richest club in Italy. The absence of a major title since the Coppa Italia in 2008 demonstrates that the Giallorossi are not accustomed to lifting silverware. However, those realities do not mean that there shouldn’t be a commitment to catapulting the capital city slickers to those heights.

Some of that work must be done off the pitch, namely with the construction of a new stadium. That long-awaited development would dramatically strengthen La Lupa’s financial position, but it must be accompanied by a raising of standards on the field.

Having your head coach leave satisfied after defeat to a Juve side on track for their worst points haul in a decade, no matter how well you may have performed, cannot be tolerated if the Giallorossi want to start filling a dusty trophy cabinet.

Fonseca could yet help Roma progress towards that goal, but he is not the man to take them over the finish line.


Have your say...
To clarify:
I put "stealing" in quotation marks to emphasize that no matter which team wins the Championship, fans from other clubs will regard it as unfair or "stolen"...
Even when Roma won it in 2001, Juventini & Laziali saw it as such (and evidently, still do).

Man, I was extremely glad when Roma signed ElSha, but now I am angry with him:
I thought he'd be raring to go, fight for a place in Italy's Euro squad... But the guy is unfit for a football match because he was partying in Dubai!
on the 13th February, 2021 at 4:28pm
We need to have a group therapy for you Coppa; Your obsession has become unhealthy.
You are starting to check which refs are being assigned to Roma games now???

I will not bother you anymore, it only fuels your Roma hatred.
Although, I don't understand; It's not like we are in first place or "stealing" trophies every year..?
You NEVER complain about the 3 truly priveleged clubs from North! Last year Milan fans mocked you for receiving several penalties; Shouldn't you return THEM this treatment?
on the 11th February, 2021 at 6:58pm
What a surprise to see Giacomelli in charge of Roma-Udinese this weekend...Let's see how many favours he does for Roma in this game. I called it here first!
on the 11th February, 2021 at 12:20pm
Poor Romuletti grasping at straws and really not addressing any of the arguments I have made. If you are happy with Roma winning nothing but being good losers over the last 20 years then I am happy for you. Mentioning Signori is sad, hadn't player for Lazio for decades and many ex-players have gambling issues. As for Calciopoli, clearly Lazio were barely involved, hence no relegation and minimal points penalty. Which club gave referees Rolexs each worth $13000 to referees?
on the 10th February, 2021 at 12:18pm
At this point I'd take substance over style. I love to watch their play but with results going against the side there's no joy in that
on the 9th February, 2021 at 8:55pm
You talk about integrity, please feel free to explain Calciopoli, Stefan Mauri, Signori all instances of match fixing. Once can happen, twice is confidence, three is a pattern. I hasten to add the last 2 were club captains too!
on the 9th February, 2021 at 2:28pm
Isn't it amazing how Lazio fans ALWAYS have to comment on anything related to Roma! Do you actually support your team or just tifo against ours? Truly pathetic. Do you ever actually talk or think about your own team?
on the 9th February, 2021 at 2:24pm
...At least until Lazio gets relegated & disappears from the Planet's face.
(HA, I had to finish like that!)

In the last 20 years Roma has been on a far greater level than Lazio & therefore had different archnemeses (Inter, Juve...).
I am certain Roma fans, who aren't from Rome, just DON'T CARE about Lazio & would MUCH RATHER beat Juve than you.
But with Roma slowly degrading to Lazio's level, maybe a MUTUAL competitiveness can rise again?

Now google Paolo Di Canio's antics & HIS tattoos!
on the 8th February, 2021 at 6:45pm
This petty disputes are holding both clubs back:
It's impossible for them to make player trades.
One of the reasons Roma can't build their stadium are Laziales in bureaucracy sabotaging the project.
When Roma didn't have a sponsor & used the "SPQR" writing on their shirts, Lotito IMMEDIATELY made them put it off!
Remember how Lazio fans cheered AGAINST their team vs Inter? How many of your players actually put in the effort in that game??

Roma & Lazio are destined to forever trip each other.
on the 8th February, 2021 at 5:51pm
Understand that a lot of this bar talk comes from players who never finished school (& LIVE IN Rome where they're constantly exposed to insults from other team's fans).

Some of it are mind-games, trying to plant a mental bomb into your opponent. I find this "Conor McGregor" approach quite annoying...

They are able to show respect & class towards their CL opponents because they don't share the history or occupy the same city with those teams.
When Roma & Lazio face each other, it's PERSONAL.
on the 8th February, 2021 at 5:48pm
C'mon, Coppa --You act like Lazio are saints & never provoke.
As long as I've been following Roma, these two teams are at each other's throats. They're in shadows of the Northern clubs, without real possibility of winning anything, so their whole seasons revolve around besting each other.
It is no coincidence that one is on the rise when the other is struggling, or that the in-form team loses the face-off.

That's also why the Roman Derby is so fierce --One of the greatest in Europe..!
on the 8th February, 2021 at 5:44pm
off topic roma for the best part of 20 years have always fallen short this is nothing new for roma they finished 2nd nine times in this period.

as for roma today i think you would be hard strength not to admit that juventus has a superior squad they would have done well to get a draw.

in terms of team spirit well if roma are going to keep selling key senior players who are the leaders in the dressing room you have to expect a nonchalant attitude.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 6:46pm
Coppainfaccia71, what your point, id you even read the article?
on the 7th February, 2021 at 4:29pm
If Roma could buy Belotti and Perin or Cragno for next season + recover Zaniolo that's all they'd need to be competitive next season. They wouldn't win the league but they'd be a step closer and would have a young team with a great Italian core. They play good football under Fonseca but could do with Belottis aggression in attack and a much better keeper. Just look at Milan, it didn't take much to change them from a very average side to table toppers
on the 7th February, 2021 at 3:05pm
Right on cue! My dislike for Roma stems for the lack of class and graciousness that an endemic part of their DNA. Take Totti, clearly a talented player but did he have the class or manners of a Nesta, Immobile or a Roby Baggio? Or De Rossi, whose leg tattoo is of him breaking someone's leg? Players and former players who regularly talk up Roma before the derbies only to get egg on their face. The only big aspect of Roma has always been their ego.
on the 7th February, 2021 at 1:03pm

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