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)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?