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Opinion: Veretout and Pellegrini among driving forces
Illustration by Vinnotsaurus (@vinnot86)

Roma defeated Bologna at the death in a hotly contested clash on Sunday. Our columnist looks at four key points from the contest...

Aleksandar Kolarov scored yet another free-kick, before Edin Dzeko headed home in the last minute to clinch three points for the Giallorossi - who had been reduced to 10-men by that point.

Stirring, character filled away win

Roma made it three wins in a row with a hard fought 2-1 win away against a Bologna side who had won eight straight home games heading into the match.

Showing plenty of fight and determination, Roma importantly never gave up on the win even when they went down to 10 men for the closing stages and in spite of some questionable refereeing decisions. Although they left it late, the Giallorossi were eventually rewarded for their persistence, with Edin Dzeko scoring in stoppage time to secure the vital victory.

After three games in a week, where Roma scored 10 goals and conceded three, Paulo Fonseca was full of praise for his troops afterwards.

"First off we deserved the win, because we played well and dominated the entire game," Fonseca said. 

"Bologna had a number of counter-attacks in the second half and created a couple of chances, but we deserved the win on account of the character we showed.

“All of the players are happy. The team is pleased with the result and with how we played."

Pellegrini the press breaker

With Roma wanting to play out from the back at every available opportunity, Fonseca came out with a shrewd strategy to beat Bologna's press.

Seeing as Mattia Destro and Nicola Sansone would often be oriented towards Roma's central defenders and Roberto Soriano would monitor Bryan Cristante, Roma would look to play straight to right-back Alessandro Florenzi. In doing so, this consequently lured out Bologna midfielder Andrea Poli to press Florenzi.

With Bologna's other central midfielder keeping tabs on Jordan Veretout and Bologna's defenders unwilling to step out as they didn't want to leave their post or man, Lorenzo Pellegrini cleverly dropped deep to be the free man.

This tactic bore fruit on many occasions before the Rossoblu made some alterations, with Roma's ability to bypass their opposition crucial in their capacity to progress upfield.

Pellegrini's movement was also vital in Roma's established spells of possession, for he took full advantage of Bologna's mids pushing up to Roma's two central mids, which left big spaces between the lines for the Italian to cunningly target.

King Kolarov

Aleksandar Kolarov continued his remarkable offensive contribution by firing home a sublime free kick to ensure he kept up his record of scoring or assisting in every one of Roma's Serie A games this season.

While his wonder strike, that was incredibly the sixth free kick he's netted since joining Roma in 2017, justifiably drew the plaudits, there was plenty more to like about his polished offensive display.

Against Bologna's narrow defensive shape, Kolarov was given vast freedom to provide width and depth to Roma's attacks. With nominal left winger, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, customarily drifting infield, this subsequently generated the space Kolarov needed to burst into. Timing and angling his runs excellently, the Serb caused constant headaches for Bologna with his smart movement.

In addition, his slick dribbling meant he shone in 1v1 situations, where he could beat his man before shooting or firing in neat crosses and cutbacks.

A key byproduct of his wide positioning arose from how it drew Takehiro Tomiyasu towards him, which opened a channel between the Japanese right-back and nearby central defender, Mattia Bani, for Mkhitaryan to exploit with crafty depth runs.

A force to be reckoned with throughout, Kolarov's statistics demonstrate his value, for he completed six progressive runs, five dribbles, three shots, five accurate passes into the final third, eight ball recoveries, four interceptions and three tackles.

Veretout catches the eye

Making his second league appearance since joining in the summer, Veretout produced an extremely positive performance from his central midfield station.

To start with his defensive output, and the Frenchman blended intelligence with force nicely. Knowing when to press high or step out and apply an intervention, he did so with conviction. Moreover, the way he accompanied this with his strong positional awareness, that ensured he identified when to hold his post to block passing lanes, support a colleague or shift laterally, was also very beneficial.

Switching the focus to his attacking efforts, and he acquitted himself admirably here too. Passing the ball with precision and accuracy, his aptitude in this regard allowed him to be a key figure in constructing attacks. Whether it was recirculating possession, changing the angle of attacks or breaking the lines incisively, his distribution was littered with upside and set many moves in motion for the Wolves.

So composed and calm with the ball at his feet, the technically proficient midfielder also embarked on some wonderful driving dribbles, with his powerful surge that was the catalyst for Roma's winner particularly memorable.

His impact didn't stop there, for his movement was key in supporting Roma's attacks in wide and central areas. Proving his worth especially during build up and when dropping into the left half space, he knew exactly where best to situate himself to manufacture positional or numerical superiorities.

To focus on the latter, and inheriting possession in the half spaces allowed him to open central passing lanes and receive away from the congested middle while providing structural security behind Kolarov in case of a turnover.

Adding balance, tactical discipline and very active in all phases of the game, Veretout illustrated why he's such an important addition for Fonseca's men.

 
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