Roma showed the good and the bad of their season so far when they triumphed 2-0 over Spezia on Monday evening at Stadio Olimpico.
Jose Mourinho’s side started strongly and picked up an early goal through Chris Smalling. They started similarly well in the second half and doubled their lead through Roger Ibanez.
For two patches within the match though, the tempo dropped to a level that has to be of concern for Mourinho and the watching Romanisti.
An intense start
Given the humbling that Roma received when Simone Inzaghi’s Inter visited the Stadio Olimpico on matchday 16, it was clear that the team needed to bounce back with a comfortable victory.
They started the game very well with the likes of Tammy Abraham, Rick Karsdorp, and Matias Vina providing the kind of intensity and impetus in the early stages that has been missing from so many Roma performances this season.
The pace was being predominantly set by Abraham up front who has emerged as a real on-pitch leader since joining from Chelsea during the summer transfer window.
He wasn’t giving the Spezia defenders a moment of peace on the ball and that energy clearly rubbed off on those around him, everyone except Borja Mayoral who was given a rare start but after struggling to affect the game was substituted in the second half.
Abraham played a part in the opening goal that came after six minutes. A corner was swung into the box that the Englishman headed back across goal, where Chris Smalling was waiting to divert past Ivan Provedel.
That early goal was important for settling any Roma nerves as if the score had been level heading into the last 20 minutes, the situation could have become ugly rather quickly. Their early intensity certainly warranted a goal.
A lack of consistency
Roma have plenty of young and fast players that can put teams under serious pressure right from the off but they have rarely been able to maintain for an entire game.
After around 25 minutes of promising football, Mourinho’s side dropped off and allowed Spezia to get back into the game. Whilst they did not create in that first half, it was abundantly clear that the Ligurian side were very much in the contest at 1-0 down.
The second half was essentially a repeat. Roma started quickly again and within 10 minutes had doubled their lead thanks to a powerful header from Roger Ibanez from another corner.
If Roma backed off slightly after going 1-0 up, they really backed off after going 2-0. Spezia ended the game with a string of excellent chances and a correctly disallowed goal. They will be left wondering how they did not score at least once.
This is a worry for Roma because whilst it is fair to suggest that they were conserving energy having played in the Europa Conference League in midweek, a better team than Spezia would have punished them for that drop in intensity, as has happened before this season.
Roma are one of many teams that will be pleased with the timing of the winter break as their inconsistency must be addressed before the second half of the season.