Roma-Milan: Know Your Enemy

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Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Radja Nainggolan during Milan-Roma at Stadio San Siro on October 1, 2017. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)
Hakan Çalhanoğlu and Radja Nainggolan during Milan-Roma at Stadio San Siro on October 1, 2017. (MIGUEL MEDINA/AFP/Getty Images)

Milan face Roma at Stadio Olimpico on Sunday night (20:45 CET kickoff), and Bart’s scouting report will help you know what to expect from the opponents.

Roma by the numbers

– 1st in shots per game (18.1)
– 6th in Shots allowed (11.7)
– 2nd in possession (56.5)
– 4th in aerial wins per game (16.7)
– 2nd in fouls per game (10.8)

Formation: 4-2-3-1/4-3-3

Offense:

Roma favors using long balls and through balls to the outside to create chances. Often times Roma’s first look is a deep penetrating pass from a defensive midfielder towards a winger running in on goal. If this ball is off, Roma will possess and work the ball outside to a winger while a fullback overlaps. Many of their crosses come from overlapping fullbacks hitting the ball in towards Džeko or the opposite winger. Lastly, Roma like to hold the ball up top so that wingers will run inside on through balls. We saw this on Roma’s goal against Shakhtar by Cengiz Ünder on an assist from Džeko.

In terms of their shape, the wingers will gravitate towards the middle of the pitch near Džeko. This allows for two things. It gives fullbacks more room outside to run up the field and play crosses in. It also means wingers can run in faster on through balls from the middle of the pitch. Overall, Roma tends to rush fullbacks or use a target man in the middle to create chances.

Edin Džeko and Cengiz Ünder celebrating during Roma-Benevento at Stadio Olimpico on February 11, 2018. (VINCENZO PINTO/AFP/Getty Images)

Defense:

When the ball is in the opponent’s half, Roma plays a very high line and presses hard. Roma will force the ball to the outside and then attempt to win possession there. Expect to see Roma use an attacker to direct passes and then two wide players to press. Very often, this hard press can result in a turnover of possession.

In their own half, Roma plays a very narrow defensive line with two midfielders playing just in front of the center backs. The center of the pitch is pretty much a “no fly zone” when attacking. Don’t expect any opportunities to come right through the center. Additionally, the team still presses very hard when in their own half. It isn’t uncommon to see three Roma players press the ball when it is wide to force turnovers.

Alisson Becker and Fazio celebrating during Roma-Qarabag at Stadio Olimpico on December 5, 2017. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
Alisson Becker and Fazio celebrating during Roma-Qarabag at Stadio Olimpico on December 5, 2017. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)

Transition to Offense:

As previously mentioned, Roma plays deep balls to the outside. If they gain the ball in their own end and have the opportunity to counter, they will do so. Their offensive transition is deep passes to the wingers. If this is off, they will possess the ball and go into their base offense, which was mentioned earlier.

Transition to Defense:

This is Roma’s chink in the armor. Their wingers do not drop back fast, often leaving space on the outside. When they do not drop back, Roma’s narrow defensive line becomes extremely vulnerable. Often their poor transition lead to their outside backs being in 2 on 1’s which allows for the opposition to get off very accurate crosses.

Set Pieces:

While Roma ranks high in aerial duels in Serie A, they do not run particularly tricky set pieces. Expect to see one target man (Manolas) run across the face of the goals towards the near post and for one man (Fazio) to run across to the back post to clean up. Their set pieces are not necessarily tricky, but because of their personnel, they can be effective. Still, Roma scores a vast majority of their goals from the run of play and not set pieces.

Roma's XI posing before Shaktar Donetsk-Roma at Metalist Stadium on on February 21, 2018: Kostas Manolas, Alisson Becker, Federico Fazio, Kevin Strootman, Edin Džeko, Alessandro Florenzi, Diego Perotti, Radja Nainggolan, Cengiz Ünder, Aleksandar Kolarov, Daniele De Rossi. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)
Roma’s XI posing before Shaktar Donetsk-Roma at Metalist Stadium on on February 21, 2018: Kostas Manolas, Alisson Becker, Federico Fazio, Kevin Strootman, Edin Džeko, Alessandro Florenzi, Diego Perotti, Radja Nainggolan, Cengiz Ünder, Aleksandar Kolarov, Daniele De Rossi. (SERGEI SUPINSKY/AFP/Getty Images)

Milan’s Key to the Game:

Let’s be clear, Roma does not have a weak player in their starting XI. However, Milan can win this game by exploiting Roma’s poor transitions to defense. Suso and Calabria or Çalhanoğlu and Rodriguez doubling up on Roma’s outside backs will be key. By doing this, they can create excellent crossing opportunities to whoever Gattuso decides to play up top (Hopefully Cutrone). While Roma is a very strong side, their weakness almost seems tailored to how Milan like to play the game.

With that being said, how do you feel Milan should approach this game?

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Milanista121
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Milanista121

If all our players are on top of their game we can win this. Im scared of Cengiz v Rodriguez though, he is in great form while Rodri is not…we’ll see what happens. Im super nervous and excited, can’t stop thinking about this game…
two of my Romanisti friends asked if I wanted to watch the game with them, I dont know if I can deal with the pressure!

Alexmilan
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Alexmilan

I’m glad you agree on me about the players with low performances. Yes, Rodriguez is on a bad period, like Silva and Locatelli. Let’s hope he can recover his form. He was the weakest against Sampd and pale against ludogorets.

Ali
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Ali

I say we should have been playing Antonelli but he is dealing with an injury. So the only way to make up for RR’s poor form is to assign Bona to help him.

RKaY
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RKaY

That’s what I came here to say. RR is a defensive liability and not explosive enough going forward.

Ünder theoretically should tear him a new one if that kid keeps up his current form. RR is the weak link in our starting XI but I hope he gets it together tomorrow.

I’m just not a fan of his characteristcs. Like what can you say Rodriguez does well? He has a wicked left foot and is decent at shielding the ball, thats about it. Need an explosive left back in the summer.

Alexmilan
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Alexmilan

RR played very well, like a world class, in the first games of the season, he can play very good, especially in the offensive, but somehow, after the game against Inter ( his big mistake that meant the winning goal for nerrazzurri ) his playing became bad… I think he can recover himself

rossonerisiamonoi
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rossonerisiamonoi

We will conquer Rome , Forza Milan !

ACTito46
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ACTito46

Ahhhhh. There is new trouble coming. Donna wants to leave at the end of the season. Again. I Hope we can cash in on that. There are plenty of good keepers around. Check out bernd leno and timo horn from the Bundesliga. Very good keeper and not so expensive like dollaruma

Ali
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Ali

Don’t believe everything the press report. Those effing bastards.

ACTito46
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ACTito46

I would love to ignore it. But to be honest we all know he wants to leave.

Ali
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Ali

I know a thing and it’s that we can’t rely on pure defending this time. We need to score to get something out of this. Cutrone should definitely start so his perfect understanding with Calhanoglu gives us a good edge.
And the substitutions should be made early and in a way that confuses the opponent and stops their better players of the night. Teams like Roma with pacy wingers are more dangerous towards the end of the game.

Ifeanyichukwu kossy
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Ifeanyichukwu kossy

RR will be our weak position, Antonelli has been very good and would have been a good option but he has been frozen out of the squad, press said its an injury but I dnt Tink so, I Tink he has a prb wit d management that’s why Milan has already sign strinic for his position, cengiz under is on form now and he is also a very fast paced player and will cause alot of problem for RR, I think borini will match him well in LB better than RR

yourBosss
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yourBosss

I thought Rodriguez played well in the last 2 games? Although I like Antonelli I’m not sure he’s a better choice than Rodriguez for this game.

Benjamin Grey
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Benjamin Grey

yeah.. sitting out a one goal cushion won’t help us especially towards the end of the match…. we need to score goals

Calm down
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Calm down

If we don’t play with fear and instead approach the game like ‘ yea you are 7 points ahead of us we want to get closer to you’ we have a bigger chance. An important game our CL fight. Can do it. Forza Milan!

agustinar
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agustinar

We won against Lazio. But 0-0 draw will be a good result

Amal sadanandan
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Amal sadanandan

Its copa italia..draw will do no good

oluwa shevy
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a win against Roma will b a good results.the winner between arsenal and Milan will go on and lift the trophy.trust me on that gattuso should field is strongest team on both legs forza Milan

Milan10
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Milan10

Nice article, though im not necessarily agree. Roma is poor man’s lpool only with classic st instead of modern st like firmino (a player whose skills and form i hope andriy silva can emulate in near future). I think its clubs with great wingplay and fastbreaks like roma that can hurt milan most. Many goals milan conceded vs napoli, juve, roma were due to inability of their slow defensive line and mf to contain fast wingplay and/or counter attack from their opponents. Remember juve’s winning goal In coppa italia? Milan need to contain roma’s mf to prevent them from sending… Read more »

Ink
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Ink

Whatever, Roma sucks.