Roma’s 3-0 Derby della Capitale dismantling of Lazio may have come as somewhat of a shock to those expecting a much tighter affair and could now be the catalyst for Jose Mourinho to take the Giallorossi to the next level.
A Tammy Abraham brace and a Lorenzo Pellegrini stunner saw Mourinho’s men lead by three goals after just 40 first-half minutes and that, in fact, was enough to completely knock the stuffing out of Maurizio Sarri’s side.
Truth be told, the Biancocelesti didn’t have much of an impact at all on the game, despite having a larger share of possession. Typical Mourinho fashion then, or so has become the known thing – the ability to soak up pressure when necessary and do the damage at the other end when the chance arises.
The win meant that the Giallorossi have now gone nine Serie A games without defeat and currently sit in 5th place as domestic football moves over to allow for International games for a week or so. Not only that but Roma are very much still on for silverware this season, in the form of the Europa Conference League.
A quarter-final tie with Bodo/Glimt is the next step after seeing off Vitesse Arnhem in the last-16. The two sides are no strangers after having faced off twice earlier this season in Group C of the competition, one of which resulted in one of the most embarrassing defeats in Roma’s history after being hammered 6-1 in Norway.
Mourinho has also made it clear on several occasions that he needs more players and that several of his second string are below par, as was the case after the above mentioned thrashing in Norway, stating that the likes of Borja Mayoral and Gonzalo Villar weren’t up to scratch, which is probably the reason they have since been shown the door.
However, since then there seems to have been a turnaround in the Roma camp and Mourinho even seems to have found his starting 11, for now. That said, he has laid into his team several times since and accused them of having “sh*t themselves” following Roma’s 2-0 Coppa Italia loss to Inter, for example.
The arrival of Rui Patricio, though, looks to have solved the goalkeeping issue that once was while Chris Smalling and Gianluca Mancini have struck up a good relationship at the back, and captain Lorenzo Pellegrini is chipping in with his fair share of goals – often spectacular – from midfield.
Nicolo Zaniolo is back from injury and warming into action nicely, but the man-of-the-hour from the Lazio mauling was undoubtedly Abraham. Not only was he the main man on the day but the English striker is quickly becoming a fan favourite as he continues to notch the goals and seemingly fall in love with Rome and its people.
Tammy enjoying life in the sun
As the story goes, Abraham was sold his Roma opportunity as a reason to escape the often-grim English climate in favour of some vitamin D. Mourinho’s opening line was apparently: “Do you want to enjoy some sun or stay there in the rain?”
Enjoying some vitamin D, he is, as well as being in a rich vein of form to boot – 23 goals in all competitions isn’t too shabby at all – and surpassing first-season-in-Rome goalscoring records set by the likes of Gabriel Batistuta and Vincenzo Montella is more impressive still. Abraham is not just doing alright for Roma but is excelling under Mourinho.
Abraham’s first in the derby was the fastest goal ever recorded in the fixture – after 56 seconds – which was then followed by his 15th Serie A gaol of the season on the 22nd minute. It’s even earned him an England call-up for their friendly fixtures against Switzerland and Ivory Coast, with Gareth Southgate paying attention to the striker’s form.
Goals are impressive, but it’s not only that. Pressing, hounding, and harassing defenders off the ball has been a huge part of Abraham’s growth and has endeared him to the Roma faithful – a far cry from his more languid style at Chelsea.
Whether it’s the €40 million price-tag, the genuine help of the extra vitamin D – as sold by Mourinho – or something else that’s clicked, Abraham’s overall game has come on leaps and bounds: he’s hungry.
The forward was caught on camera sat on the ground, hammering the floor with both fists, while letting out a battle cry after having successfully won a tackle near the half-way line during the first half of the derby and boy did the Roma fans respond – they loved it.
The full-time whistle sounded and Abraham ripped his shirt off and ran under the Curva Sud to celebrate with the Roma faithful, who responded by chanting his name over and over again.
“I cant. I can’t describe how they make me feel,” Abraham said in a post-match interview. Apparently speechless and very likely in love – that’s how it comes across at least. One thing is for sure, he wouldn’t have felt that way sat at home in the rain.