Serie A 2020/2021 – Hellas Verona vs Roma – tactical analysis
The 2020/2021 Serie A season kicked-off with some entertaining and competitive matches like Juventus vs Sampdoria, Parma vs Napoli and Milan vs Bologna on Monday. The first round of fixtures has also presented to football fans a match between Hellas Verona and Roma, which ended with a 0-0 draw that can be considered as a great result for Verona since they lacked many important players and were playing against a strong team. For Roma, giving away points will cost a lot at the end of the season when battling for European spots.
In this tactical analysis article, the focus will be placed on Verona’s and Roma’s tactics. The analysis will be mainly concerning both teams’ defensive and attacking performances, players’ movements with and without the ball, as well as pointing out the most influential players from both teams and explaining how they had a positive impact on the game.
After completing their takeover from president James Pallotta, Friedkin Group, the new ownership group headed by Dan Friedkin, preferred to give their trust to Paulo Fonseca, Roma’s coach, and keep him in his position to continue developing the team after his relatively good results of last season following the pandemic break.
It was a period that helped Fonseca in thinking about and trying new tactical systems. He ended up using the 3-4-2-1 formation instead of the 4-2-3-1, which did not give the needed results to the team and was marked by inconsistency and instability of performance. Using the 3-4-2-1 with the adequate player choices gave the team a new and fresh start during the last ten matches in Serie A. It also helped them maintain their Europa League spot while paving the way for fans to have more hopes and dreams on this new system.
In this analysis we will see whether Fonseca continued to use the same tactics and formation at the start of the new season or not, and how his choices impacted the final result of the game. We will also look at Verona’s start of the season knowing that this team finished ninth last season. They were competing for a Europa League qualifying spot at some point, so they will be a tough opponent for Serie A teams.
For this match, Ivan Jurić, Verona’s manager, chose to play according to a 3-4-2-1 formation relying on Marco Silvestri as a goalkeeper, a defensive line composed of three defenders; Alan Empereur, Mert Çetin and Koray Günter behind the two central midfielders; the recent addition of Adrien Tameze and the captain Miguel Veloso while the two wingers Davide Faraoni and Federico Dimarco contributed both in the attack and in defence.
In attack, Jurić relied on both Andrea Danzi and Ľubomír Tupta to play just behind Samuel Di Carmine and provide him with the needed support in the final third.
Paulo Fonseca has also adopted the same formation which he used in the final fixtures of last season, the 3-4-2-1. He relied on Antonio Mirante as a goalkeeper and Bryan Cristante, Gianluca Mancini and Roger Ibañez right ahead of him, forming the defensive line which is strengthened with a second line of defence in midfield.
This line is composed of Leonardo Spinazzola and Rick Karsdorp on both wings and Amadou Diawara with Jordan Veretout as central midfielders. With Edin Džeko’s future being blurry and probably not at Roma, Fonseca relied on the new joining Pedro and Lorenzo Pellegrini behind Henrikh Mkhitaryan who played as a false nine most of the time in an attempt to replace Edin Džeko.
Roma’s attacking dilemma
Roma started the match playing with confidence and keeping possession of the ball while relying on Karsdorp, Pedro and Mkhitaryan to create the difference in attack, since Tameze and Veretout passed the ball to them so often mainly through long balls.
Also, Pellegrini started playing in midfield and when the ball reached one of the three attacking players he joined them to help in making passing combinations and make through balls behind the defence and to one of the attacking players when possible.
While relying on the flexibility of the mentioned midfield and attacking players, Fonseca also instructed Spinazzola to contribute to the attacking actions as well, by running in from the left wing and entering the box, to either pass to a better-positioned player or to have a shot. This happened many times throughout the match and was one of Roma’s main weapons. However, Roma had no luck on some occasions and more importantly, they had no experienced finisher.
You can see in the below example how Spinazzola penetrated into the box here and dribbled past defenders hoping to make a key pass or shoot.
Here as well, Spinazzola gave a through ball to Veretout behind Verona’s high defensive line, which resulted in a free-kick on the edge of the penalty area for Roma. This was Roma’s weapon to get rid of Verona’s high defence but unfortunately for them, they were not able to finish any of the created chances.
Not having a true forward up front made life harder for Roma, even though Fonseca did his best to replace the absence of Džeko by playing with a false nine and supporting the attack with several players. Almost on each occasion, Roma played long balls or through passes to one of the attacking players, then the midfielders joined him in the penalty area, in an attempt to distract Verona’s defenders and create gaps in their defence.
As you can see in this action, seven Roma players were inside the box trying to create numerical superiority and score.
The away side did their best to make Verona commit mistakes in the back. However, Verona’s defenders concentrated throughout the game and did not allow Roma to take advantage of their high pressing. And as you can see in this picture, they resorted to long balls, especially to Di Carmine.
Roma could have won this match and will most probably regret this draw since they were able to win as they had 20 shots. However, most of them were not accurate, with only four shots on target, plus an unfortunate shot against the crossbar from Spinazzola.
A precious draw for Hellas Verona
Verona suffered during the beginning of the first half and lost most of the duels, which led to them being obliged to defend until the 22th minute. From that moment onwards, they started to advance and had more determination in attack. Therefore, the game started to become more balanced. In this regard, Verona had a good opportunity at the 22nd minute but didn’t know how to create danger out of it.
Instead of passing at the right time to Tupta, who would have been in a one on one situation with the goalkeeper, Faraoni preferred to keep running until he found no option other than passing backwards. This shows how the lack of experience in attacking decision-making and timing affected Verona’s attacking performance in this match.
Verona were applying high press on Roma’s defence throughout the match and were successful in disturbing their build-up, but Roma knew how to escape from this pressing as well through relying on both wings and on long-balls as well.
Even though Roma had a bigger share of chances in the match, Verona had some great scoring opportunities as well, but couldn’t convert their chances. The match could have ended 2-2, 3-3, or one of the teams could have won if they did not miss a lot of chances due to bad decision-making.
For instance, in this action, Verona’s Faraoni once again was acting like a forward and received a key pass due to Roma’s defensive mistake. But, he made the wrong choice by passing to a teammate instead of shooting, when he was in an adequate shooting position and could have scored. And when he passed to Diawara, the latter was disturbed by Roma’s defenders and was not able to shoot with focus and accuracy. But nevertheless, he hit the crossbar.
In the 81st minute, the left-back Dimarco also hit the crossbar again for Verona but Roma got away with it. Therefore, Verona could have scored many goals too, showing that Roma’s defence was not really too solid since there were gaps and Verona players were able to shoot 9 times.
The match was very intense and competitive from both sides and a lot of players deserve being selected as the most influential players. For Roma, Spinazzola, Pellegrini, Pedro and Cristante were excellent during the game. Spinazzola contributed in almost all of the attacking actions and created a lot of problems to Verona’s defence, apart from the fact that he hit the crossbar as well.
Pellegrini and Pedro both were focused and made many passing combinations in midfield and attack to win the midfield and reach the box. They also ran a lot with and without the ball and helped in defence as well. Also, Karsdorp had a good performance since he passed a lot of key passes behind the defence and supported the attack so often. Credit also goes to Cristante who played as a centre-back and did well to limit the threat of Di Carmine, despite being originally a midfielder and not a defender.
For Verona, Silvestri was excellent during this match since he saved many shots and gave more confidence to the team. Tameze, Faraoni, and Dimarco also had very good performances. These three players not only helped in limiting Roma’s attacking threat and ball possession but also threatened Roma in their own third and supported the attack efficiently despite some finishing mistakes. Also, the three Verona’s centre-backs deserve credit since they resisted Roma’s recurrent attacks and stopped them most of the times.
Knowing that this was the first game of the season for both teams, the match was a very beautiful one and only goals were missing for both sides. However, the result does not suit Roma’s objectives while it serves Verona especially when knowing that they are lacking many important players.
The match also made it clear that Roma need to find a replacement for Džeko as soon as possible if they will sell him in the next few days, because Roma’s attack clearly lacks depth and finishing.