Cengiz Under and Bryan Cristante provided the goals for a comfortable Roma away win at Parma. Another big Serie A crowd filled the Tardini as Roma swept aside Parma with Eusebio Di Francesco looking to take his men on a much-needed winning streak going to into the winter break.
Parma’s last win against Roma was in 2012, followed by a draw and four defeats since that meeting. Robin Olsen made sure that Parma wouldn’t be altering their struggles against Roma when he saved from a Siligardi strike in the 28th minute. From then on, it never looked like Parma’s day.
The visitors applied a smothering pressing game for large periods of the first half as Parma struggled to build any type of momentum, let alone create any chances other than Siligardi’s midway through the half.
Cristante eventually broke the deadlock in the 58th minute with a headed finish from Under’s floated corner. Under sealed the points himself with a finish from a ricocheted pass from Pellegrini in the 75th minute.
Bruno Alves was back from suspension for Parma who set out in their customary 4-3-3 formation. Alves partnered Bastoni in their back four while Stulac anchored the midfield three with Deiola and Barilla alongside him.
A quiet Siligardi and the industrious Biabiany played either side of the ex-Roma man Gervinho across the front three.
Roma’s flexibility through their 4-2-3-1 formation proved too much for Parma. The experience in the back four alone with Fazio and Manolas partnered together in central defence, with Kolarov and Florenzi left and right back respectively. was too much for Parma to really look threatening. When they did, it was Swedish number one Robin Olsen who came up with the save for the visitors, one of only two shots he faced all day.
World Cup winner Nzonzi was paired with goalscorer Cristante in central midfield. Up front, Nicolo Zaniolo supported former Manchester City striker Edin Dzeko, who returned to the starting lineup for the first time in a month. Roma’s lineup was complete with the ever-dangerous Kluivert and Under on either flank.
Roma largely suffocated Parma into their own half during the opening period in terms of territory, if nothing else. This domination was triggered not only by their ball retention but also their energy to win the ball back high up the field. This forced Parma to play long into their forwards, none of whom would identify as aerially dominant. Gervinho won none of his aerial duels the entire game. Roma’s central players Nzonzi and Fazio were both part of a dominant aerial display with their side winning 17 duels compared to Parma’s nine.
The illustration above shows the connected nature between Roma’s attackers. They created a tight diamond, denying passing lanes as well as players, hunting down the ball between the four of them and in turn forcing turnovers higher up the field.
By working tightly together, they created numbers-up situations around the players in possession to give themselves a greater chance of winning the ball and keeping it in a small area. Upon winning the ball, they had a numerical advantage to play out of the pressure area.
Roma’s quintet high up the field set the tone with winning the ball back. Although none of the four necessarily won the ball, they did force Parma to play long passes 15.46% of the time, playing into the hands of Nzonzi, Christante, Manolas and Fazio.
The diagonal pressing lines from Roma were set by Dzeko who would take away one central defender, forcing the ball playing central defender to make decisions. The image above shows the goalkeeper having one option, to play to left side centre back Bastoni. Zaniolo denies any central passes to Stulac whilst Under denies any penetration through inside channels, forcing Parma to play into Roma’s press or play a long ball. Roma allowing just 7.37 passes per defensive action.
The tricky Kluivert, who also completed 97% of his passes, was crucial to Roma’s game plan. With Parma setting up to match up with Roma’s midfield, it was Kluivert who was able to throw those plans out of the window.
With the security of playing Cristante and Nzonzi together in front of Manolas and Fazio, both Florenzi and Kolarov were able to take up higher starting positions. This created numerical superiority in two areas of the field.
Kolarov’s higher starting position on the left flank allowed Kluivert to invert into a more central area of the field. In this sense he became a second number 10 alongside Zaniolo, creating a box midfield with Nzonzi and Christante against Parma’s midfield three of Stulac, Barilla and Deiola.
This in turn freed up Kolarov to serve crosses with little less pressure on him and the ball, with his dangerous left-footed service.
On the right flank, numerical superiority was created with Under keeping the width in higher areas. Florenzi being given freedom by his two holding central midfielders to play higher up the field, creating a 2 vs 1 situation in the right channel against Parma left back Gagliolo.
Whilst Parma will feel comfortable enough at this stage of the season sat in mid-table going into the winter break, Roberto D’Aversa will be concerned with the lack of opportunities his side created at home against an indifferent Roma side.
Di Francesco will be looking to take his Roma side on a winning streak to get themselves back into European contention when fixtures resume in two weeks time, after an up and down December. Two wins on the bounce against Sassuolo and Parma have put them two points off Europe. Their next game in the league at home against Torino who will be looking to close the gap on the European places themselves.
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