All streaks come to an end and after losing to Cagliari 1-2 this past Sunday at home, so ended a 27 match run of victories over the Sardinia side in the Eternal City spanning back to 1968.
Sporting six Serie A debutants from the gun—Maarten Stekelenburg, Gabriel Heinze, Jose Angel, Miralem Pjanic, and Bojan Krkic—Luis Enrique was not looking to ease any of AS Roma’s recent additions into competition.
For the most part, the match was congested into the center of the pitch but the Giallorossi did manage a few decent chances on goal and a taste of that sexy Barcelona passing game that Stadio Olimpico has been yearning for since the Spaniard’s hiring.
Left-back Jose Angel made off with an impressive start, striking a hissing ball on goal at the 15 minute mark forcing Cagliari keeper Michael Agazzi to make an impressive stop; just one of the seven saves the custodian would make on the day. Unfortunately, the young, new Roma player could not manage to keep up the pace nor hide his inexperience for the entirety of the match.
In what should have been a routine stop, Alessandro Agostini’s cross into the heart of the defense was met with a horrible headed attempt to clear by Angel. Who could do little more than watch as the ball traveled just a couple yards off the crown of his head and directly at the feet of Daniele Conti, who slotted home with relative ease amongst a group of befuddled defenders at the 68th minute.
No more than two minutes later Angel would commit a second blunder and be issued his marching orders by the referee for petulantly lashing out at Davide Astori, after losing the ball inside Cagliari’s area.
Following the disastrous defensive lapses—something that has become all too common for the capital side as of late—Francesco Totti continued to actively press on winning possession, ushering the attack forward and attempting through balls but to no avail. Amid a horde of media reports and statements by Enrique suggesting that the captain be relegated to the bench for the better of the team, the living legend easily proved to be tops among his peers.
A disallowed Fabio Borini goal and a precise Moestafa El Kabir strike later, the score stood at 0-2 with the result in little doubt.
Daniele De Rossi managed to “save face” with a last second goal following the rebound of a screaming Totti free-kick but going a man down proved to be too large of an obstacle for a club that is obviously in transition.
All things considered, the loss is certainly nothing to be all too concerned about. There are 37 more league matches to be played and Roma’s statistical advantage—16 shots, eight on goal and 59 percent time of possession—in spite of being down to 10 men, shows much promise.
While it is evident that Roma’s squad may not be perfectly suited to Enrique’s preferred tactics—particularly upfront where there is a great concentration of players more accustom to the center-forward role than playing wide, which is a necessity—the team has an adequate amount of time to adapt.