Takeaways from Roma's Clash with Sampdoria in Serie A
The Giallorossi were imperious in their home clash with a ragged-looking Sampdoria, dominating possession and putting three past their hapless guests despite starting the game without Daniele De Rossi or Francesco Totti.
After the game, Garcia said that the result was a response to the "lack of respect" shown to his side, as per Sky Sport Italia (via Football Italia), and it certainly sent a clear message to the opposition.
So what can we take from the game?
Sampdoria Looked Clueless, and Sinisa Mihajlovic Is to Blame
It's a source of constant amazement that club owners consider with the fallacy that being a great player somehow makes you a suitable manager.
Sinisa Mihajlovic was a disaster at Bologna, mediocre at Catania, a failure at Fiorentina and a divisive, destructive influence on an already fractious dressing room while on the bench for Serbia. Why Sampdoria would think that he was the man to end their woes is anyone's guess.
It's true that he didn't have very big shoes to fill when he took over in Genoa; Delio Rossi is another manager whose most impressive attribute as a manager is the way he continues to find employment, but if Edoardo Garrone was looking for someone to bring back some glory to the port city, he could have found any number of managers more qualified than Mihajlovic.
Against Roma, they had a third of possession, a miserable two shots on target and conceded twice from set pieces. On top of that, poor discipline led to Daniele Gastaldello getting sent off, leaving his side with 10 men to do a job that 11 couldn't handle.
In other words, they failed in every aspect. They couldn't keep the ball, they couldn't attack, they couldn't defend, and they couldn't keep their heads when the pressure was on. These are all things the manager should be working on. He clearly isn't. The Blucerchiati deserve better.
Mattia Destro Has the Potential to Be Great
It hasn't always been easy for Mattia Destro. Roma saw off stiff opposition to sign him from Siena back in 2012, when many were already tipping him to become Italy's next great striker.
Since then, he's seen his chances in the capital hampered by injury, but when fit, it's easy to see why the Giallorossi were willing to pay €16 million for a 21-year-old. His earlier outings this season were promising, but while his keen eye for goal and obvious skill were ever apparent, a lack of match fitness held him back.
There were no such problems against Sampdoria. The forward did well to beat his marker to Alessandro Florenzi's cross to head home a classic, predatory goal, and the way he bagged the third—a direct run, calling for the ball, then a calm and clever turn before launching a rocket of a shot—was an act of striking genius.
If he keeps this up, he'll be invaluable to Roma—and to Italy. On this form, he'll surely force his way into Cesare Prandelli's plans for Brazil.
Whisper It, but Roma Are Still in the Running
Juventus have the title sown up. That's the common consensus, and it's probably right. But there's still a chance that Roma can wrestle it from their grip, and on form like this, the Giallorossi are right to believe that all is not lost.
Roma are in the league title picture with an impressive 54 points from 23 games. They trail Juve by nine, but they have a game in hand and will host the Bianconeri at the Olimpico in the season's penultimate round.
It's still Juve's to lose, but if they slip up, they'll have Roma snapping at their heels.
Radja Nainggolan Was an Important Signing
OK, so it's hardly news that signing Radja Nainggolan was a good idea. The Belgian has been impressing for years both with his country and at Cagliari. But the 25-year-old's arrival in Rome is crucial because it provides some quality cover in the centre—and some breathing space for De Rossi.
The Roman is key for his club, but sometimes in previous seasons he's been asked to do too much and has suffered from the pressure. Likewise, dips in form or injury have left the team exposed and severely weakened. Nainggolan safeguards against that and gives Garcia an excellent alternative while also taking some of the pressure off of De Rossi.
Against Sampdoria, Nainggolan was excellent and did exactly what was asked of him. He might not make the headlines, but it was his play that allowed Miralem Pjanic the space and time to do what he does best—and the Bosnian put in a man-of-the-match performance.