A.S Roma 1 Udinese 1
Following a victory in the conference league first leg in Holland, Roma would get back to business trying to make it three wins in a row as Jose Mourinho returns to the bench. Over the last two games in the league, Roma has played some of their best football in months they came into the game with confidence and momentum about them. Heading out on the road to take on Udinese after winning the reverse fixture at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome earlier this season with the Derby upcoming maximum points were critical for this Roma team that desperately desires to make a push for top five this evening which will be an extraordinary accomplishment considering how inconsistent they have been this campaign. Roma wanted to give himself the best possible opportunity to make a big statement in the derby things didn’t exactly go as planned with Mourinho back on the bench; Roma significantly struggled. They did not look like the same team from the last two weeks. Udinese looks like be more aggressive and ambitious side getting themselves in position constantly. Rui Patricio was absolutely superb in a performance of near perfection as he could be the best goalkeeper in the league. However, in the first half, Molina hit a rocket to give Udinese a 1–0 lead. Roma struggled to assert themselves as there seems to have been a drop-off from the last two performances. Udinese continued to push and make things difficult on the Roma it looked like they were going to steal the game. Udinese deserved maximum points, but Roma had a chance to minimize the mess at the bitter end as Roma was given a penalty in the closing moments. Lorenzo Pellegrini stepped up and converted at the death of the match, giving Roma a late point at this point of the season points are everything Roma will take it even though they leave disappointed.
After preparations and predictions, the match got underway in another critical match for Roma’s season. Jose Mourinho is back on the Roma bench; the question was, we would see a difference from the last two performances. They would take on a Udinese side that can prove difficult, and that’s exactly what the vibe was in the early parts of the game. Roma had possession advantages over most of the ball, but that didn’t mean that Roma was in control. Udinese extinguished the first blow just mere moments into the game. Pablo Mari put his head through a cross from Molina Rui Patricio managed to make the save, but it was certainly a start for the hosts. Udinese manages to look like a much more aggressive side, especially in the early parts of this game. Roberto Pereyra tries finding space with a complicated angle but manages to misfire; then a moment later, Mateo Jajalo connects on strike from outside but not testing the goalkeeper. Shortly after Roma got on the break as Nicolo Zaniolo read the ball towards Tammy Abraham, he had a good look from just inside the Box as the Englishman followed through looking for the bottom corner but veered a little too far to the left. Not long after, Udinese was right there again, but Molina was denied. Only for him to have another chance, but there was no stopping the inevitable this time. In the 15th minute, coming off a corner kick Molina connected on a deep strike from outside the box as he sends a bullet into the top corner as the hosts take advantage of a brilliant start taking a 1–0 lead. After all, Mourinho returning to the bench doesn’t look like such a great thing. Roma was playing some of their best football of the season. They simply do not look the same. Udinese was out playing Roma, and it was obvious. Mou’s strategy simply was not working. Need the back half of the first half. Roma did have a few chances that gave them some sense of confidence even though they needed to be much better. Rodger Ibanez misfires coming out the corner as he gets his head on the end of a Lorenzo Pellegrini cross. A minute later, Sergio Oliveira pulls up from outside the box, stinging the keepers’ hands but manages to collect the ball. The first half ends with Nicolo Zaniolo missing High before rui Patricio makes a late save. Udinese held a deserving 1–0 lead Mourinho needed to get it together for all the work over the last two weeks would be ruined points were necessary, and whatever he was doing wasn’t working. Udinese is in control at half.
Mourinho made an absurd decision at the start of the second half when he brought on Stephan El Shaarawy in for Sergio Oliveira; it’s hard to get my head wrapped around that one. Udinese continued to keep up the pressure and got themselves in dangerous areas quite often as Rui Patricio was called into action in quite a bit. 10 minutes into the second half, Marengo was within range inside the box but failed to put together the necessary touch to kill the game off once and for all. Romo still had the bulk of the possession, but it didn’t seem they were doing much with it; the later we got into the game, the more complicated it would be to come back. Bryan Cristante found Stephan El Shaarawy, who connected on a header but was inaccurate as Roma could have made much more out of it. In front of goal, the struggles continue. Roberto Pereyra tried to catch Rui Patricio off guard, who was having a terrific game, but his strike from the side of the box didn’t reach the target. Mourinho made two more changes taking out Roma’s best goal threat Tammy Abraham replacing him with Shomurodov; as inconsistent as any player on this Roma Squad, another idiotic change. Felix Afena also came in Nicola Zalewski, the one sacrificed. Immediately after the change, Rick Karsdorp finds the space for Felix Afena as the youngster strikes from the deep end coming relatively close; an intelligent decision from Felix, who often struggles with decision-making, was very encouraging even if he didn’t score. Udinese hit back with a Chance of their own as Pablo Mari failed to capitalize from a complicated angle. Mou would make another ridiculous change taking out arguably Roma’s most explosive player Rick Karsdorp in favor of Jordan Veretout. I don’t mind the inclusion of Jordan, but not at the expense of taking out Roma’s explosive Dutchman. It was a battle; the remaining 20 minutes, Udinese looked strong Roma was trying to find their way but erratic decision-making in attacking areas continued to halt them it certainly seemed that Roma was going to leave empty-handed. Fortunately, they had a little bit of luck in the end. A handball was called in the 93rd minute, coming off a free-kick into the box. The defender did not have his hand in an unnatural position; it was in motion a clear penalty. The official did check the video review but didn’t have to go to the screen as everyone seemed on the same page. He pointed to the spot at the death, allowing Roma to grab a point at the end. Lorenzo Pellegrini stepped up in a highly crucial situation; remember, Lorenzo Pellegrini failed to capitalize in a similar situation against Juventus. The Roma Captain got up the courage to grab the ball stepped up, converted into the back of the net as Lorenzo Pellegrini rescued Roma from defeat; it would be his 10th goal of the season as Roma finally got their equalizer. Roma leaves extremely disappointed at the full-time whistle, earning a 1–1 draw with Udinese not nearly a strong enough performance from the Romans. Still, in the end, a late penalty minimizes a horror show from Mourinho. Hopefully, an emotionally-charged point will allow Roma to go into the derby with some sense of confidence, but this still wasn’t good enough.
Roma put their best foot forward in their last two matches against Atalanta and Spezia as they put together two of the best performances they’ve seen in months. Even though it took a very late penalty against Spezia the way they moved the ball in that game, the confidence in which they played with was wildly impressive; if it weren’t for the goalkeeping performances of the opposition, they would have won the game much more easily. Then last weekend against Atalanta, Roma was determined and showed natural qualities, especially in the defensive structure to win the game doing the double against Atalanta, which is difficult to do only their second win against Atalanta since 2017. The way the team was playing from the attack to the Midfield to the defense, I wouldn’t say perfect, but much improved and pretty mistake-free in all panels of their team. This was done without Mourinho; the last two weeks were their best two performances in months; it was real questions of whether or not Mourinho was having a positive impact on the pitch with this team. From a mentality standpoint, absolutely, he’s been very influential but tactically in terms of the product on the pitch. I’ve had my doubts for several weeks. His suspension is lifted, a mentally strong performance in the conference League but also brutal at the same time. Then tonight against udinese, there’s just something missing; it’s not the same Roma from the past two weeks. The players have been mutually the same. This game proved one fundamental idea that Jose Mourinho is not the problem but the solution either. It was a game of boiled-up frustration and anger infuriating to watch. Clinical finishing in front of goal horrendous, egregious decision-making, and his substitutions idiotic. Rui Patricio played like Superman, showing that he is the best goalkeeper in the league; he did everything he possibly could and saved everything outside of the Molina wonder goal; defensively, you can look at this positively; the rest of it is unrecognizable. Mou was gone for two weeks, and Roma played their best football of the Season; he returns, and it’s almost like it’s a flip of the switch but in the wrong direction. The confidence that I had regarding this Roma team getting the top five has been dented based on this performance. Everyone is allowed to have an off game, but the problem is this team is playing so well together when he was suspended, and now this performance went the opposite way. There needs to be an honest conversation about Mourinho’s impact on the pitch. Sergio Oliveira had a productive performance in the first half was taken out for Stephan El Shaarawy at the break, who had not played significant minutes for Roma in weeks. He then took out Roma’s number one goal scorer Tammy Abraham in favor of Shomurodov, a player that has been erratic in front of goal, and his decision-making has been equally bad. Taking away his most valuable asset offensively, then with time running out less than 15 minutes to go, he takes out Roma’s most explosive player, Rick Karsdorp. All of his decisions were horrendous; the substitution nearly could have killed any chance of a comeback if it wasn’t for the penalty. Meanwhile, he let Nicolo Zaniolo play 90 minutes when he was genuinely bad; arguably, his worst decision-making of the Season happened in this game. Mourinho is one of the greatest managers of all time, but like I’ve been saying for weeks, it appears that he is not the right person for this job look at the difference between Roma with and without him. The Derby is going to be a huge test. Roma is a better team than Lazio, but if Mourinho makes these types of decisions, what is the point of showing up? The good news is they get the point Lorenzo Pellegrini’s penalty Saddles something for Roma. I thought Pellegrini, throughout the game, was incredibly productive and was able to perform at a high level; he dares to step up and bury the penalty Roma gets something. Atalanta also drops points against Genoa. There’s still a possibility that Lazio can drop points against Venezia, but Roma should not have put this in someone else’s hands. It was a huge missed opportunity to climb into fifth place by themselves. Roma’s performance top to bottom wasn’t up to the standards they’ve set themselves for the last two weeks as a collective; they weren’t good enough. The decision-making is a big talking point here, and it was not good enough, especially in front of goal they have to take some blame but this game, but this result is on Mourinho.