Serie A round 16 was meant to be finished with a bang as Roma welcomed high-flying Milan at Stadio Olimpico on Monday night.
The two title chasers failed to live up to the expectations however getting locked in a grueling fight solved by a single moment of great timing, precise finish and lack of luck on the other side, which almost ended up disappointing both sets of fans.
Here are the five things we learned from the game at Stadio Olimpico:
Milan did not deserve to lose
Rossoneri have by no means been the more submissive side in the match-up at Stadio Olimpico tonight and Vincenzo Montella’s men deserved much more from the game.
Milan closed their lines fairly well for the most part of the game, but a single moment of lower concentration was well enough to derail them and get them out of pace which ultimately cost them the game.
Lack of experience resulted in a lack of composure from the white spot when Niang should have fired a more powerful shot towards Szczesny, whereas Rossoneri also displayed a worrying lack of cutting edge in the final third which once again could be attributed to the lack of experience from Montella’s side.
Roma had more ball in possession and were a more concrete side with Edin Dzeko attempting on numerous occasions to capitalize on his brilliant individual performance tonight. In the end all it took was a moment of brilliance from Radja Nainggolan who used his weaker foot to crush Rossoneri.
Milan were unable to get their heads backs up and ended up losing the game, their first defeat in last six matches.
Wojchiech Szczesny – From Zero to Hero
Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny is enjoying his time at Rome, having managed to establish himself as a first choice at Giallorossi in front of Brazilian shot stopper Alisson.
The Poland international has made all 16 Serie A appearances during which he conceded merely 16 goals. His form has been on the high end throughout the 2016-17 season, but Szcezsny could have easily cost him team dearly on Monday nights.
A reckless challenge on a Milan player in the first half was more than enough for the referee Mazzoleni to point to the penalty spot, but the Polish international went from zero to hero in a split second as he read M’Baye Niang’s shot and denied Milan the chance to take a lead early on in the game.
It was his second penalty save of the season and a timely one, which allowed Roma to keep their heads cool throughout the match.
Dzeko’s flying form undone
Edin Dzeko is currently playing one of the best seasons of his career.
Bosnia and Herzegovina international striker has managed 12 Serie A goals in 16 matches (5 more in as many Europa League matches) this season for Roma which is already more than what he scored during the entire last season.
Dzeko has not gone over the 16-goal mark in last nine seasons when domestic competitions are concerned and current campaign is by far the best since his departure from Wolfsburg. Roma striker is playing with restored courage and nerve, which allow him to get into good scoring positions, which was again the case against Milan on Monday night.
Dzeko had a couple of attempts, most notably the first-half shot which went just wide off the right post of Milan’s goal.
Rossoneri should be complimented for their tight defending which kept danger man Edin Dzeko at bay for the entire match.
Milan’s youth continues to impress
They’ve been the most positive surprise package so far in the Serie A season and Milan are showing no signs of slowing down despite their unfortunate loss at Roma tonight.
Vincenzo Montella is doing a wonderful job with his young guns who continue to impress throughout the campaign. Milan’s Monday night starting line-up with the average age of 23 years and 343 days has been the lowest for a Serie A team in a league game this term.
Lead by the unfazed world-class talent Gianluigi Donnarumma who is standing tall and proud albeit in his tender age of 17, Milan are boasting several other notable first-team choices such as the 18-year-old Manuel Locatelli, 21-year-old Mario Pasalic, Alessio Romagnoli and M’Baye Niang.
Two years their senior, former Liverpool winger Suso is considered one of the most experienced players in the team, which speaks volumes of the impressive strength of Milan’s young and talented squad, which could definitely become a force to be reckoned with in the future.
Milan change of approach and decision to invest in home-grown young and talented footballers in yielding fantastic results at the moment.
Vincenzo Montella unfortunate despite outwitting Luciano Spalletti
The seasoned football tactician Luciano Spalletti could have easily been disappointed by the fact he got completely outwitted by the less experienced managing number on Milan’s bench, Vinzenco Montella.
Young boss who was backed by Spalletti himself to manage Giallorossi once again in the future, which speaks volumes of how highly Roma manager holds his former player and now a fellow manager Montella.
Rossoneri is doing a great job with his team and can count himself a bit unlucky not to get away with at least a point at Stadio Olimpico.
Montella refused to give up on his preferred 4-3-3 system on Monday night and his players responded with responsible play in all lines.
Niang’s 4th penalty miss in his career to date and a moment of brilliance from Radja Nainggolan were something Montella’s brilliantly brave tactics could have little effect on however.
In the end, the young tactician lacked luck to beat his former coach at Roma’s bench.
ROMA: Szczesny 6 – Rudiger 7, Manolas 7, Fazio 6.5, Emerson 6.5 – De Rossi 7, Strootman 6.5 – Peres 6.5 (El Shaarawy 6.5), Nainggolan 7.5, Perotti 7 – Dzeko 7.5
Unused subs: Alisson, Greco, Iturbe, Jesus, Rui, Seck, Gerson, Spinozi, Vermaelen
MILAN: Donnarumma 7 – Abate 6.5, Paletta 7, Romagnoli 7, De Sciglio 7.5 – Pasalic 7 (Honda 6), Locatelli 7, Bertolacci 6.5 (Fernandez 6) – Suso 6.5, Lapadula 6.5 (Adriano 6), Niang 6
Unused subs: Antonelli, Ely, Gabriel, Plizzari, Poli, Sosa, Vangioni, Zapata
REFEREE: Paolo Mazzoleni
Other results tonight
Fiorentina 2-1 Sassuolo
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