Chievo vs. Roma: 6 Things We Learned
Another weekend, another win for Roma. Juventus' lead in the title race is realistically unassailable at this point, but this victory over Chievo gave the Giallorossi a boost in the race against Napoli for second.
First-half goals from Gervinho and Mattia Destro were enough to wrap up the tie 0-2, earning a deserved three points from what was a determined team performance.
Rodrigo Taddei Did Himself a Favour
Rodrigo Taddei is out of contract at the end of the season and at 34, there were suggestions that his time at the Olimpico was up. He was brilliant against Chievo, however, and his contribution will have done plenty to convince his employers to let him stay.
Speaking after the game, Rudi Garcia was full of praise for the veteran Brazilian. He told the press (here in English via football-italia.net):
Taddei is a high level professional, he has always worked hard and I am pleased with the results.
For me he is a very important player, whenever I call on him he always does his best and there will be time to talk about a new contract for him.
Chievo Look Like a Side Going Down
They're currently a point above Bologna—whom they meet next—and the relegation zone but based on this performance, and the many like it that they've put in this season, Chievo look like a side doomed to relegation.
Against Roma, they squandered chances, made a startling number of individual errors and were profligate in possession. Getting a result against the Giallorossi was always going to be a tough ask for Serie A's smaller teams, but they could have made a better attempt at it.
Michel Bastos Is Not Mattia Destro
Michel Bastos and Alessandro Florenzi aren't natural forwards, so it would be a little disingenuous to suggest that Roma's substitutions in games like this lack quality. Florenzi, in particular, brings the kind of energy and industry that are crucial in closing out a game comfortably.
That said, had the Giallorossi needed to chase a result, they'd have been a little short on options if something happened to Mattia Destro or Francesco Totti. Adem Ljajic and Federico Ricci were the only other forwards in the squad, and the latter in particular needs a lot more experience before he can be relied upon to change a game.
Even Gervinho, who's been excellent this term, is not at his best in front of goal. The Ivorian is most effective farther back, when he can use his pace to burst into space and spearhead his team's attacks. He's neither a lethal finisher or a real threat in the box.
Roma Function Perfectly as a Team
Roma's success this season has been all about the unit. As a team, they're more than the sum of their parts, and the performance against Chievo was a classic example of that.
A lot of that must be down to the manager's methods but after the game Garcia was quick to give all the credit to his players. Speaking to Sky Italia (here in English, football-italia.net) he said:
We had a great first half. I didn’t like the second half as much though! We scored from two defensive errors, but the pass from Taddei for the second was excellent. The credit goes to the whole team. My players always want to win and they give their all on the pitch. I have players with character.
Napoli Will Need a Miracle to Catch the Giallorossi Now
With automatic qualification for the Champions League still up for grabs, Napoli will be desperate to catch Roma and steal second place.
Rafa Benitez's side can close the six-point gap with a win over Fiorentina, but the Lupi will have a game in hand and on this form, look unlikely to drop too many points between now and the end of the season.
Alessio Romagnoli Continues to Impress
Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi, Alessandro Florenzi...and Alessio Romagnoli? Roma have always been known for the quality of their youth setup and their ability to unearth local heroes. It's still early days for Romagnoli, but the signs are good.
He's just 19, but he is already performing like a full-back with far more experience and against Chievo was more effective on and off the ball than his opposite numbers on the home side.