Roma fell in Reggio Emilia on Saturday evening in an unexpected 4-2 defeat against Sassuolo, allowing the Neroverdi to record their first ever Serie A triumph over the Giallorossi.
Roberto De Zerbi’s side were rampant from the off, racing into a 3-0 lead with less than half an hour played and although the visitors put up more of a challenge in the second half, the damage had been done.
Edin Dzeko and Jordan Veretout cut the deficit to just one goal, but Jeremie Boga brilliance immediately after Roma’s second restored their two-goal cushion.
A Diawara shaped hole
When Amadou Diawara played for Napoli against Real Madrid at the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu a few seasons ago, some eyebrows were raised that Maurizio Sarri dared to go with the youngster in his starting XI.
But the Guinean impressed then and although Jorginho largely kept him out of the team at the Stadio San Paolo, it was clear from early on that there was a player there.
Jorginho’s subsequent signing for Chelsea appeared to pave the way into the XI for Diawara, though Fabian Ruiz’s arrival, among other factors, contributed to him staying away from the team under Carlo Ancelotti until he moved north to the Stadio Olimpico.
Now, at Roma, he’s finally found his role in a top Serie A side and his importance to I Lupi was perhaps seen more than ever in his absence at the Mapei Stadium.
Without him Roma were left wanting a player who could dictate the tempo of the game and keep things tiding over in midfield.
Bryan Cristante was chosen as his successor, but the ex-Atalanta man isn’t cut from the same cloth as Diawara, and his skillset is completely different, which showed.
“He [Cristante]’s been injured but we need him now because we don’t have Diawara,” Paulo Fonseca explained in his post-match press conference when asked about their midfield problem on the night.
“We have no other solution.”
The 22-year-old has 19 appearances to his name this term – 12 in Serie A, five in the Europa League and two in the Coppa Italia – but based on Saturday’s evidence that number is only going to rise.
Sassuolo need consistency
The Neroverdi showed something on Saturday that they’ve had in them all season, but they don’t show enough.
When Domenico Berardi, Francesco Caputo and Boga all click into gear they can threaten any defence in Serie A.
Add Junior Traore and/or Filip Djuricic into the mix and you have an attack that should be putting up figures much better than the 36 goals Sassuolo have bagged in Serie A this term.
They started this season well, just as they did last, before quickly fading and falling down the table.
If De Zerbi can get them performing over a longer period of time then there’s no reason why they can’t breach the top half of the table, but it’s easier said than done and perhaps motivation is a problem at the Mapei.
Playing in front of a few thousand fans every week can’t help, less so when most of those in attendance are locals supporting the away team on any given week, and it might just be that this is as good as it’ll ever be for them in Reggio Emilia.