Since the opening minute played against Sampdoria, it was clear that Roma were looking for some answers following their long absence from football, as the team looked eager to make a strong comeback.
As has often been the case during this season, creating opportunities was not the real issue for a Giallorossi side that has scored in 13 straight games in all competitions.
However, it is the lack of balance that the team has already shown that can hinder their offensive potential, and such flaw was once again exposed against the Blucerchiati, who watched the hosts miss three clear chances before punishing them.
At that point, it looked like the first 10 minutes of their first match in three months perfectly summed up Roma’s entire season, with their efforts frustrated by their own behaviour.
The Giallorossi certainly seemed to be on for an unlucky night before two moments of magic by Edin Dzeko allowed them to turn the game around, but it has to be said that the Paulo Fonseca’s men also demonstrated some mental toughness.
It was far from easy, in an empty Stadio Olimpico, to fall behind due to an Amadou Diawara’s mistake right after a strong start, and to see their chances repeatedly denied by a brilliant Emil Audero, plus a goal disallowed by VAR.
Things changed when Fonseca sent Lorenzo Pellegrini in, a player whose quality has often made the difference during this campaign.
After that, it was all about Dzeko – in addition to being Roma’s most talented player, the Bosnian also proved to be a spiritual leader, taking responsibility when things got messy, on a night who also saw him equal Pedro Manfredini as fifth most prolific player in the club’s history.
Fonseca defined Dzeko as “the best striker I’ve ever coached” but the former Manchester City star alone won’t be enough to push the whole team towards a strong final to the season.
Roma must learn to handle the key moments of each and every game better, while also being aware that their strike force can allow them to win a match in any moment.
Atalanta currently have a six-point cushion on the Giallorossi and, as things stand, it seems unrealistic that Roma can cut that gap and earn a Champions League spot.
However, they need to be patient and lay the foundations for the future – Fonseca is certainly building a promising side – but it is still early for them to be able compete with teams that already started that process long before.