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Analysis: How Ebrima Darboe influences Roma style

Our columnist takes a closer look at how Ebrima Darboe's introduction to the side has helped shape Roma's tactical approach...

Ebrima Darboe continued his impressive form since making his Serie A starting debut against Crotone last month by putting in an exceptional performance against Lazio in Roma's stirring 2-0 derby triumph at the weekend.

Playing with a maturity and quality that belies his tender years and minimal experience at the top level, the 19-year-old was instrumental in securing the victory. Operating with conviction and clarity on both sides of the ball, Darboe hardly put a foot wrong.

Getting the fundamentals spot on and fulfilling his responsibilities brilliantly, Paulo Fonseca was full of praise for the youngster after the match.

"It’s not easy to find a kid of that age with that courage, that aggression, that composure. Roma has a player for the future in him. We are all seeing what he is capable of," he said.

The Portuguese tactician then highlighted how vital his presence has been in helping his team, explaining: “I think we’ve improved, especially after Ebrima came into the side: he changed a lot about the way we play.

"He’s a courageous kid, who likes to play forward, who finds spaces vertically. It was really interesting to see how the team improved with Darboe in there."

Defending with intelligence, intensity and awareness, he showed fantastic judgement to ensure he made quality decisions in regard to his stopping actions and positioning. Picking when to track Luis Alberto or a dropping forward when they ventured into his designated area of operation or looked to run down the channels, he undertook his marking assignments diligently.

Displaying a fine knowledge of when to push back and help his defence, shift across to the ball near side, block passing lanes with his positioning and cover situationally when a Roma central defender or fullback ventured upfield, his tactical discipline also stood out.

Very good at reading the play and maintaining his concentration, this helped him when picking up second balls, breaking up play with some nifty interventions and dealing with 1v1 scenarios.

Providing essential balance and protection in front of his backline, he was integral towards Roma keeping a clean sheet against Lazio's talented frontline.

By the numbers, his 12 ball recoveries, five interceptions and three tackles demonstrated his immense stopping output.

When it came to his efforts in possession, Darboe got the fundamentals spot on, keeping the ball circulating crisply and moving strategically to help with Roma's offensive passages.

Passing the ball concisely and with intent, he kept things simple for the most part by accurately moving possession to aid Roma's building out from the back. Organising play, switching the angle of attacks and getting little details like passing to a teammate's preferred foot and weighting his passes ideally, Darboe played his role wonderfully.

When the opportunity arose to play a progressive pass to break the lines, it was admirable how he did so with aplomb to find his forwards in advanced areas. Getting his pass selection spot on depending on the situation, the fact he completed 42 of his 44 attempted passes, hit five accurate long balls and made five of his six attempted passes into the final third depicted his polished, thoughtful distribution. 

Clean with his first touch and ball control, this, in combination with his vision and awareness of incoming pressure, ensured he wriggled away from danger, adjusted his body to shield the ball and could comfortably withstand being harried aggressively.

Embarking on some powerful dribbles and outfoxing foes sharply, his prowess was valuable in terms of drawing opponents out of shape and ball retention.

Shining the spotlight on his movement, and Darboe demonstrated a good understanding of what Fonseca asked of him. Often dropping between the central defenders to create a 3v2 overload against Lazio's first first line of pressure, this helped them gain a foothold.

As soon as he drifted back, Roma's central defenders would split and the fullbacks would push up to further stretch out Lazio's setup.

How he often pinned Lazio's front two notably generated plenty of space for Roma's centre backs to dribble upfield unimpeded to gain territory before looking to lure out a midfielder to challenge them.

It also warrants mention how he'd regularly be on hand to support wide attacks by offering himself as an option to get the ball back inside so Roma could then switch the play or attack advantageous central areas.

Generally always on the hunt to find spaces to give the ball holder an option and help teammates have outlets while generating numerical and positional superiority, his work here was excellent as well.

Having already gained some vital experience at the professional level against the likes of Manchester United in the Europa League and Inter Milan in Serie A, his latest disply in the derby underlined how smoothly he's adapted to life in Roma's first team.

Still just 19 and with still so much to learn to develop his craft, all the signs are there that Darboe, who's been on an remarkable journey to get to where he is, will continue his remarkable rise at Roma.

 
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