Just two games into the 2020/21 Serie A season and we already have a 0-0 result, though it doesn’t really tell the story of a thoroughly entertaining match.
It looked like Roma would walk away with the three points given their early domination, but a dogged performance from Hellas Verona showed that once again they will be a force to be reckoned with this season.
Excellent pressing from the Mastini put Roma in plenty of difficulty, and if the were in possession of a clinical finisher, Verona would likely have walked away winners.
Roma have work to do
Two of last season’s stars for Roma – Chris Smalling and Edin Dzeko – had their absences very much felt by Roma on Saturday night. While the former is no longer at the club, the latter spent the entire 93 minutes on the substitutes bench not willing to risk injury ahead of a move to Juventus.
Fonseca himself admitted after the game that Smalling coming back to Roma is a must: “It is important for me that he arrives, we only have three central defenders so I want Smalling here.”
The Giallorossi were able to muster just four shots on target over the course of the match, ending a 22-game scoring streak against Verona in Serie A, falling short of goals for the first time since 1989.
Dzeko absence was telling as Fonseca’s men had little presence in the final third with Henrikh Mkhitaryan offer little more than running. The Roma boss said it was his decision to leave the Bosnian out, but in reality it was to make sure nothing put the transfer at risk.
The remaining three weeks in the transfer market will be key for Roma if they are to challenge for a top four spot, but on this showing that looks like a bridge too far.
Two departures were key to Verona as well – Sofyan Amrabat and Marash Kumbulla – the pair were key players last season as Verona held their own in Serie A, but both have moved on. The latter to Roma incidentally.
Their absences weren’t felt as much as Roma missed their two key players. Adrien Tameze was dominant in the midfield with the defensive trio Cetin, Gunter, Empereur always in control at the back.
Special mention has to go to Ivan Juric, who despite being suspended for the game, filled the empty Stadio Bentegodi as he bellowed instructions from the stands.