The Giallorossis were undone due to some issues of their own.
AS Roma’s dream run in the Champions League is all but ended following the 4-1 rout at the hands of mighty Barcelona in the first leg of the quarter-finals.
Undone by two unfortunate own goals in either half of the match, the Giallorossi’s hard work up until that point was undermined as the visitors did look bright going forward and also maintained robustness at the back which successfully kept the Blaugrana‘s otherwise fearsome attack at arm’s length.
Yet, there’s a flip side to the story. Roma were plagued with certain shortcomings from within that compounded to the misery and ultimately weighed heavy on them. Here are the top three; three things that particularly went wrong for AS Roma on the night.
#1 Roma failed to make their chances count
One cannot really expect to come to Camp Nou and be afforded a lot of opportunities. But Roma didn’t just come to Camp Nou, they turned the theory on its head by carving out spaces in behind the Barcelona defence and conjuring some really good chances.
Except, they couldn’t make it count. For all the brilliant efforts in mustering those, some desperate finishes and nervy first touches inside the box kept the ball from finding the back of the net. Headers were directed agonizingly wide while shots attempted were aimed poorly.
A total 12 shots against Barcelona in an away game in the Champions League is no mean feat. If only there was more clinicality rather than profligacy. If only Roma could’ve realised the same before full-time.
#2 Roma buckled under pressure
quaking in the boots when Barcelona attacked
Adding to the earlier point that Roma were effervescent in the attack, Barcelona, during those spells, only threatened intermittently when they rushed forward on the counter. And that perhaps, was enough to rattle Roma’s cage. The own goals on the night couldn’t testify this more.
On the first occasion when Iniesta waltzed into the box and laid a low drive for Messi, Daniel De Rossi was guilty of connecting with it too hard while intercepting it. Whilst it was understandable that he had to intervene or otherwise let an on-rushing Messi poke home a finish, the veteran Italian perhaps struck it way too hard for Alisson to parry, and inadvertently buried in his own net. It was a sign of Roma succumbing to the pressure that the hosts tried to mount on them.
That trick worked again in the second half when Rakitic burst into the box and laid off for Umititi, but Manolas’ interception ricocheted off the post first and then off him before bouncing over the line. Here, Alisson was found reacting to the cross too quickly and hence, was rendered helpless.
Another sign of wilting when the pressures were running high.
#3 Building from the back was the main issue
Manager Di Francesco’s abandoning of the traditional 4-3-3 in favour of 4-5-1 did work up to a certain extent as Roma, as aforementioned, shut out Barcelona for a good 38 minutes before the opener. The likes of Messi and Suarez were forced to drop deep to pick up the ball while the visitors did well to contain him.
But the problem while negating Barcelona was that Roma couldn’t counter press as the backline failed to push things forward. All they appeared to do was stay strong when the men in blue bombed forward but with no reactionary measures in mind. This helped Suarez and co. to build more pressure.
Take the first goal for instance. Bruno Peres albeit did well to fight the ball back from Alba, he lacked the pace while driving forward and ended passing it sideways while Dzeko stood completely unmarked just a few yards in front of him and could’ve launched a counterattack if serviced. But instead, that one indecision came back to bite Roma as Barcelona quickly recouped the ball and forced an own goal.
The capital outfit can still do some damage in the return leg at home, provided this folly is worked upon.