Coppa Italia, Roma 2-1 Inter Milan: Zeman Could Persist with Destro over Osvaldo
Zdenek Zeman slightly altered the Roma that we have grown to love this season when he was forced to field Mattia Destro ahead of Pablo Osvaldo.
Osvaldo was serving yet another suspension, which has become a common occurrence for the Giallorossi star this season. The former Fiorentina striker had already sat out four games through suspension, tonight was his fifth, and next week's second leg of the Coppa Italia semifinal will be his sixth.
Quite frankly, Osvaldo has an appalling disciplinary record, and it may have tested Zeman's patience as to whether he should persist with the maverick forward spearheading his attack moving forward.
Tonight was another opportunity for Destro, and the 21-year-old grasped it with both hands, providing a wonderful example of how Zeman can slightly alter the tactical approach of the Giallorossi.
Despite being a big, strong forward, Osvaldo prefers to play with his back to goal and link up with the midfield. By doing so, Osvaldo allows the numerous attacking midfielders to join in the attack and burst beyond him, but this also clutters up the midfield.
Destro offered a different dimension tonight, playing with his front towards goal and starting his runs from deep, darting towards the goal in search of a cross or pass to run onto.
Zeman allowed Federico Balzaretti and Ivan Piris to bomb forward more than usual, whipping in crosses rather than reaching the halfway line and handing possession to one of the trident of Roma's midfielders.
Both of Roma's goals came from brilliant crosses from Piris down the right, vindicating Zeman for this tactical adjustment. Piris generated great pace, directing the ball close to the goalkeeper and curling back towards the onrushing Destro.
Alessandro Florenzi and Destro had the simple task of redirecting the crosses onto the target, and Samir Handanovic was helpless to react, due to the power that was generated from the former São Paulo right-back's deliveries.
Destro's sharp movement to both the front and back posts dragged Andrea Ranocchia, Juan Jesus and Cristian Chivu away from the centre of the area, vacating space on the edge for the likes of Francesco Totti and Erik Lamela.
This could become a pattern in the coming weeks, even if Roma only won 2-1 in the end after Rodrigo Palacio pulled a goal back for the Nerazzurri. The signing of the Greek international Vasilis Torosidis from Olympiakos will give Zeman another option to carry on this tactical approach.
Torosidis is adept at playing from right-back and left-back, so he can compete with both Balzaretti and Piris for a start. As shown by his performances for Greece, Torosidis can replicate the sort of performance that Piris displayed on Wednesday.
With a finely balanced semifinal in the Coppa Italia and plenty of ground to make up in the league in order to secure Champions League football, Zeman must decide whether to roll the dice as we approach the business end of the season.
Despite the undeniable talent that Osvaldo provides, Roma still remain on the periphery of the European places, which begs the question as to whether he is good enough to help the Giallorossi achieve their goals.
With arguably the strongest collection of players from the sides that are competing for a Champions League place, Zeman must realise that a change is needed and that maintaining Destro in the lineup could be the way forward.
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