Roma’s four-goal haul in Sardinia saw them achieve the feat for the second time in two Serie A games after having battered Lecce the week before, but this time there was an anomaly.
That being the absence of their big, goal-getting No.9 Edin Dzeko, who was rested in favour of Nikola Kalinic after coach Paulo Fonseca admitted that the Bosnian needed a breather following their mid-week trip to face Gent in Belgium.
Normally, if Roma score a hatful then you’d expect to read Dzeko’s name on the scoresheet, had you not watched the game, and rightly so as he’s been their talisman since arriving from Manchester City – initially on loan – in 2015 but maybe Roma are starting to prepare for life, post Edin?
In fact, it was way back in 2015 when Roma last managed to score four goals in consecutive Serie A games during Dzeko’s first season in Italy.
Dzeko turns 34 in a couple of weeks and the Giallorossi have begun to deploy different forms of attack, as oppose to the old lump up to their aerial-duel winning frontman. Sunday saw them play down the flanks frequently, and moreover their frighteningly quick wingers, Justin Kluivert and Cengiz Under were Roma’s preferred weapons of choice.
The pairing have four and three goals respectively, and are thriving from the creativity of Henrikh Mkhitaryan in the middle – who has also chipped in with six Serie A goals – and all of whom were wonderful in picking Cagliari’s back four to pieces time-after-time.
Kluivert’s trickery and low centre of gravity coupled with Under’s raw pace and direct approach meant that Fonseca’s side created chance after chance and all without a single long, thump forward. Both wingers hit the crossbar with wonderfully creative efforts, and Kluivert bagged his fourth of the season after racing through before slotting under Robin Olsen with ease.
The future is bright for Roma as both Kluivert and Under are footballing babies – 22 and 20 years old respectively – and are really starting to grow into their roles within the team, cutting in from their flanks with freedom and being given the chance to showcase their talents without restraints.
When you consider that Fonseca still has Patrik Schick, who is having a highly impressive season on loan at RB Leipzig with seven goals in 14 games, to return from loan and wonderkid Nicolo Zaniolo to come back from injury, then the things start to appear more than rosy for the side chasing the Champions League.
Is Dzeko about to fizzle out? Who knows, but one thing is for sure, Roma have plenty of young attacking talent at their disposal. Kids that allow them to not only play a more expansive brand of football but players who are nowhere near their full potential and will only get better and better.
Pedro the only plus
Eleven games winless is the statistic. Cagliari seem to show no sign of halting their slide as they struggle to win and as pressure mounts on coach Rolando Maran, but amidst the doom and gloom there is one shining light.
Joao Pedro is turning all that he touches to gold, bagging another brace as he continues to enjoy the form of his life.
The Brazilian forward now has 16 Serie A goals after his brace against Roma and the first of those was a thing of beauty, a football purist’s dream. He watched a Christian Oliva ball onto his foot, cushioning it perfectly before lobbing the ball over Pau Lopez in a nonchalant manner to give his side the lead.
Unsurprisingly of late, the lead didn’t last long but Pedro is breaking boundaries regardless. He became the second foreign player in Cagliari’s history – the other being David Suazo – to score at least 16 Serie A goals for the club in one season.
In doing so, Pedro moved up to fifth on the list of the Casteddu’s all-time leading scorers in Serie A with a total of 40 goals, surpassing Daniele Conti on his way.
After talking about players having passed their best, Pedro is certainly not one of those as the 27-year-old is at the age considered the peak in terms of performance. If he continues in the same vein and Cagliari continue to slip away, then it’s likely that prying eyes will try to prize the marksman away from Cagliari come the summer.
Destination Roma, maybe? If Schick doesn’t quite work out and Dzeko is phased out slowly then maybe the Giallorossi could use an intuitive, creative and imaginative striker to profit from their ever more effective midfielders.