Roma consolidated their position in the top four of Serie A by downing rivals Napoli 2-1 at the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday, in a result that said more about the Lupi’s strengthened mental resolve than anything else.
Nicolo Zaniolo’s wonderful effort from the edge of the box and a Jordan Veretout penalty were enough to secure victory over the Partenopei, despite Arkadiusz Milik halving the deficit.
However, Roma proved well worth a third consecutive victory in a campaign that has seen them lose only once and start to erase the memories of last term’s disappointment.
Fonseca inspiring a resurgence
Roma have long-been the team one could bet their house on to capitulate when the going gets tough, and there were more than a few moments in which Napoli could have exposed them.
Aleksandr Kolarov’s penalty in the first half offered the Giallorossi the chance to double an early lead, and whilst the Serb failed to convert, it proved a catalyst to spur Roma on further.
Last ditch tackles, goalline clearances and the rarest of sights, Javier Pastore tracking back and putting his body on the line in defence, all point to a squad that has truly bought into coach Paulo Fonseca’s methods.
Despite a lengthy injury list, the Lupi have rid themselves of a victim mentality that was prevalent under former coach Eusebio Di Francesco, and the level of responsibility across a young squad bodes well for a successful campaign.
Veretout filling the Nainggolan gap
Much was made of Radja Nainggolan’s acrimonious departure from the capital as he made the switch to Inter, but Roma struggled to replace the energy and intensity of the Belgian last season. In Jordan Veretout, they appear to have found the answer.
In addition to netting the crucial penalty, the summer arrival from Fiorentina ran the show and covered every blade of grass, forming a dominant midfield pairing with Gianluca Mancini whilst proving pivotal in building up attacks.
With a midfield ravaged by injury, Fonseca has found his most reliable option ready to step up and see the Giallorossi through the difficult matches.