the match

Roma-Torino 1-1: back and forth

After Linetty took the lead, Dybala entered in the 70th minute and changed everything. He gets a penalty, missed by Belotti. Then, in the 94th minute, Matic equalizes

Matic celebration after the goal against Torino

Matic celebration after the goal against Torino (As Roma via Getty Images)

18 Novembre 2022 - 11:50

The blessed pause comes to restore the breath of the players of a tired and frazzled team that was forced to chase for the umpteenth time a goal disadvantage. Then Roma committed with all its offensive forces to overcome the opponent's resistance and often the less than capable referees. So for the fourth time in the last five games (six out of the last nine) we end up underwater with the feeling of drowning. Yet then we somehow got out. It did not happen with Lazio, unfortunately, and that remains the original sin. Then came the 1-1 comeback draw with Sassuolo and the 1-1 comeback draw with Torino, with a double-faced Roma. Roma was compassed and unattractive in the first 70 minutes, when the usual treacle of rigid grenade marking took the life away from the tired Roma players on the pitch. Roma was decidedly neurotic and overflowing in the other 20 minutes, when Dybala's entrance shook up his teammates, the opponents and the fans and immediately conveyed the feeling that any result could be achieved. So after an empty first half and a Torino's lead early in the second half with a fine header by Linetty, badly overlooked by Cristante, this was followed by a vibrant finale with the impact of a new offensive force capable of giving a series of goal chances. There was also a penalty of course procured by Paulo, and then wasted by Belotti. There was another chance with a beautiful trajectory that ended up on the crossbar again by Dybala and Matic's relay shot straight into the corner a minute from the end of the match (with a deflection by Adopo). Then the unwatchable referee, Rapuano, saw to it that the game was not played by expertly dosing the seconds until the triple whistle. So Roma is now sixth, six points behind second place and 14 behind Spalletti's Napoli.

It is true in any case that playing with Torino, and more generally against the teams of Juric, Bocchetti, Palladino, all more or less legitimate sons of Gasperini, is always an unpleasant adventure. They are not soccer matches. They are more like little Greek-Roman wrestling duels in which, as an objective, you don't have to knock down your opponent but instead you have to take away the disputed ball from him and move it to another zone for a new duel and so on. Thus, it is logical that you suffer for 90 minutes. It is logical that the matches are ugly. It is logical that the result is in the balance until someone loses/wins a key duel, or until a decisive mistake comes in a hot zone. It is pure counterplay, which enhances only the physical and not the technical or the technique structured within imposing physiques. 

At the Stadio Olimpico, Juric started his 3421 with Djidji, Zima and Buongiorno at the back. Lazaro and Vojvoda (from 30' Singo) were on the flanks. Ricci and Linetty were in the midfield. Miranchuk and Vlasic were behind Sanabria, one of the two former Roma Sabatinians that was in this match (the other, Radonjic, started from the bench). Roma satrted with a  3412 with Volpato and Zaniolo placed behind Abraham (very uncomfortable in this climate of rustic duels). On the wings were Celik and Zalewski. Karsdorp was even reported flying on a plane with the whole family for a sort of very early farewell. Olimpico, enriched once again by the sold-out crowd of 61,168 spectators (17th consecutive sold-out, greeted by the club even with a celebratory video dedicated to the fans, shown at halftime of the match), spoke through the mouths of the Fedayn on the sensations that accompanies every match: "Team, club, coach: we are with you in the same direction." Then on the field the match, as said, was very tough. The chronicle ended first with a chance for Torino and then with Vlasic's conclusion on Celik's back and in the counter cross for a high header by Sanabria from a favorable position. Then there was a transition led by Camara. Then Abraham spread for Zaniolo, and his left cross from the bottom upwards, unfortunately, faded past the crossbar of the posts. Shortly after the 20th minute, Miranchuk tried twice, with both conclusions high over the crossbar. In the 24th minute, referee Rapuano conceeded a penalty for Roma for a hand foul by Ricci on Cristante's corner, but Nasca with the Var called him Rapuano to show him Ricci's earlier attempt at a header. It was fair to judge the carom innocent, and the penalty was taken away. In the 30th minute, Juric substituted for poor performance Vojvoda and inserted Singo, moving Lazaro to the left. Immediately after another high catch by Camara served Volpato on the right into space. Curiously, however, the Italo-Australian instead of lunging, preferred to drop back to carry the ball to his left and serve at the other post to Zaniolo. However, he misjudged the length of the pass. In the 35th minute, Rui intercepted a Singo cross on the dive, then collided with Smalling and was knocked down and bruised for a couple of minutes. In the 37th minute, Roma's best chance, came from a corner kick. Zalewski's cross was deflected by Mancini on Milinkovic-Savic's empty exit, but the parabolic trajectory ended mockingly out. 

It was inevitable that Volpato came out at halftime ("My mistake to let him play, with teams against Torino it is natural that he struggles:" Mou's self-criticism at the end of the match). The hope was instead that Dybala would enter immediately, but the agreement with the Joya was only for entry in the final and so it was. El Shaarawy entered and he immediately played well, trying to bring his dynamism to a system that with him veered to 3421, with Abraham as the only central reference. It was a pity that an unsuccessful intervention by Buongiorno in the 4' was not controlled by the Englishman in the area. Then the subsequent offload right to El Shaarawy was repelled by Djidji. In the 6th Rodriguez entered right for Buongiorno. In the 8th minute, there was a peppery verbal confrontation between Juric and Mancini, and soon afterward Camara was booked. So Mou took him off, to make room for Matic. There was not even time to get on the pitch before Torino scored immediately on Lazaro's insistent action on the left. Also, with a shift of the front on the opposite side, Singo's counter-cross into the box that found Linetty alone on the insertion into the box, was lost by Cristante. It was an excellent impact to deflect toward the far post, with Rui Patricio out of the picture precisely because of the trajectory to come down. Roma struggled amid booing from the less patient fans (often from sectors other than the Curva Sud) and the obvious tiredness of the players on the pitch. So Mou ordered the triple change that restored vigor. Tahirovic came in for Cristante, Belotti for Zalewski, and Dybala for Abraham.  It took Paulo three minutes to get to his shot, right-footed, engaging the brother of Lazio's Milinkovic in the dive. He was also good soon after to neutralize an El Shaarawy right-footed shot. Catching the alarm, Juric inserted Adopo and Radonjic for Sanabria and Miranchuk, but Roma continued to push. Zaniolo was left intercepted by Djidji's hand which was not reviewed this time by Rapuano. A left from Dybala was headed away by Djidji. At that point, Torino upped the agonistic rate even further, tugging at all the Roma players engaged in the forcing. But Rapuano remained impassive, even booking Dybala for his protests, then Tahirovic for foul play, and finally Mourinho for more protests, which were justified, but disjointed. In the 91st minute, Zaniolo threaded it through for El Shaarawy, who offloaded on Dybala. He was adept at moving the ball and being centered by Djidji's disjointed intervention. Belotti took the ball and went to talk to Paulo, who was suffering on the ground. Then he went to the penalty area, with the Argentine's permission. But the finish was unfortunate. It hit the outside post. Part of the crowd took the early exit route, however, missing the denouement. Dybala dribbled past  two opponents and kicked an impregnable left-footed shot that was cleared by the crossbar. He did this all while cursing the saints that Matic had kicked hard from outside the while box catching the corner to Milinkovic's right thanks to a slight deflection by Adopo. There was still time for a miracle, but Rapuano got in the way.