After this Minsk defeat, Arrigo Sacchi described Roma’s season so far as a “roller-coaster”, a metaphor that displays well the team’s highs and lows in terms of performance and results, both in the Serie A and the Champions League . Florenzi’s wonder-goal won a draw against Luis Enrique’s Barcelona, but that gain has been frustrated by a poor showing in Belarus, with three goals conceded in the opening 30 minutes. Roma are now last in their group and their next game in Leverkusen will be a major landmark in their Champions League campaign.
BATE Borisov 3-2 Roma
1-0 – Stasevic (8’)
In the first screenshot, after a long ball played by Milunović, BATE are on the counter with Volodko on the ball. Manolas leaves his position to close down Volodko, but he has Signevich near him, with De Rossi remaining deep to cover his team-mate. Salah is chasing down the ball-holder, while Florenzi seems undecided between aiding Manolas in pressing Volodko or tracking Mladenović’s run on the left. Vainquer, not shown in the picture, has stayed in BATE’s half of the pitch after pushing higher up to press the opponents deep build-up. His absence in midfield forced Digne to stay wide on the opposite flank to mark right-winger Stasevic, jeopardizing Roma’s horizontal compactness.
The second screenshot shows how costly Florenzi’s hesitation was. Volodko evades Manolas and Salah’s pressure with a pass to Mladenović: the BATE left-back immediately runs into the space between the right-back (note his incorrect body position which excludes him from the play) and Manolas, and passes the ball to Signevich, lost by a ball-watching De Rossi.
The Belorussian striker plays the ball to Volodko and after a series of bounces, a ghosting Stasevic, left alone by Digne, puts the ball into the net.
2-0 – Mladenović (12’)
Mladenović first goal of the game has been caused by Szczesny’s blooper. Neither Salah nor Florenzi close down on the Serbian left-back, leaving him enough space to shoot to the near post. Roma’s goalkeeper is totally out of position and unable to do anything to prevent the 2-0 goal.
3-0 – Mladenović (30’)
Once again a BATE goal originated from the left-hand side. A switch of play from the right to the left finds Volodko near the goal-line, isolating him in a one-on-one situation against Florenzi. Roma’s right-back doesn’t close him down immediately and the Belorussian assists Maldenović’s intelligent run into the box.
Not a single team-mate supports Florenzi and no one close down the BATE left-back in time. Note also how much space Maldenović has, with Nainggolan staying in the middle of the penalty area and Gervinho not tracking back in time.
Even if the shot was remarkably powerful, Szczesny should have done something more to avoid the third goal.
3-1 – Gervinho (66’)
In the first screenshot BATE are compact both horizontally and vertically, yet the positioning of Iago Falqué and Salah, both between the lines and in line with the gaps between BATE defenders, makes two vertical passing lanes available for Pjanić.
The Bosnian passes to the ball to Salah. A fast combination between the Egyptian winger and Iago Falqué opens a gap in Bate defensive line, which Gervinho immediately cuts into. Iago creates the chance for the Ivorian, who finds himself face-to-face with Chernik and simply cannot miss.
3-2 – Torosidis (82’)
This time Roma create a goal from the left wing. Lucas Digne nutmegs Polyakov with a backheel and forces Yablonski to leave his position in the box, creating a numerical advantage for Roma in the penalty area, with five Roma players against four Belorussians. Yablonksi can’t close down Digne who crosses the ball into the 6-yards box. The ball bounces in front of Gervinho and Milunović and reaches Torosidis. The fullback controls the ball and scores with his left-foot like a real poacher.
Roma looked like another team in the second half and almost snatched a point, with Florenzi’s 83rd minute shot stopped by the crossbar, but it was too little to late.
Written by Flavio Fusi
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