A draw with two faces. The back-heel of Javier Pastore immediately lit up the evening and softened the anger for sudden departure of Kevin Strootman. The perfect start. A blaze. Then, the unthinkable.
I struggle to understand what happened in the field afterwards. Roma vanished, as if by magic, stormed by an Atalanta side who immediately got back in the game and reduced Roma in a pile of rubble.
First half at the mercy of an opponent who plays at another speed. An Atalanta side, who had even left key-players on the bench to rest for their upcoming Europa League tie, seemed almost like Barcelona. Quick passing, hiding the ball, then steered on the wings, only a few touches to get close to our keeper Robin Olsen. The, three strikes in the back of the net. Gutted.
Our midfield crushed, defense in the clouds, upfront no-one to be found. So bad that you do not want to believe it. Bad approach, fitness and mental condition, and the initial lineup. Everything went wrong. The coach can make the wrong choices in his pecking order, that’s ok, but then there are still 11 players in the field.
And forget about the game play formation, which anyhow changes continuously with the players’ movements during a game. Here, the difference is precisely the movements, stamina and speed. Nobody went for a one-to-one tackle, apart from mighty DDR. We threw away a whole first half, simply because many on the pitch did not deliver. What the coach expected.
It’s easy now to give out to the youngsters, Cristante and Pellegrini, because of Strootman’s departure. Their performance was appalling. OK. But what about our senior players, the Kolarov, Manolas and Fazio? De Rossi and Florenzi the only ones battling. Dzeko as always trying to come to help, Cengiz left alone, and Pastore floating around. Overall, it was a disaster.
Clear, in the second half we saw another team and another approach, thanks to new blood coming in. Nzonzi was not fit, but brought more physicality, Kluivert and Schick more flair and depth. Incredibly, they nearly won the game for Roma! An unexpected victory in the final minutes, but in the end it is a result that makes Roma smile more than Atalanta.
Now, the coach must reflect on what went wrong and how to bounce back quickly. Next at the San Siro against Milan on Friday. There are no longer regulars nor subs. No hierarchies. Will play who deserves to play. Strootman perhaps had guessed it or was told that. In the end, whether his choice or not, he preferred to go back to Rudi Garcia at Marseille. Good luck to the “washing machine”.