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Match Report: Roma 2 - Fiorentina 0

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An imperious Roma side played confidently, while Montella's team looked lost for large stretches

There was only one side on the field for much of this one. Photo
There was only one side on the field for much of this one. Photo
Gabriele Maltinti

This was never going to be an easy game, nor one we fans could "expect" to win. But in previous recent meetings Fiorentina have entered with a fighting spirit, a determination to play their brand of football, and have given Roma something to think about. Today though, the home side were largely untroubled by a wary and nervous visiting team.

The first half was a tough one for Fiorentina fans to watch. With his team selection it was clear that Vincenzo Montella was hoping to set up his team to be more solid and defensive than usual, and early on it became equally clear that la Viola set out to sit a bit deeper and absorb Roma pressure. The giallorossi had few opportunities on goal but dominated possession, and it seemed they were beginning to grow frustrated. Roma's best opportunities came in moments of transition. A hard foul by Stefan Savic to stop one of Roma's few opportunities to break sparked a minor scuffle leading to bookings for Francesco Totti and (a bit unfairly) Gonzalo Rodriguez in addition to the one handed out to Savic.

Then the Roma breakthrough came after a poor pass by debutant Joshua Brillante fell right to Radja Nainggolan, who fed Gervinho. Neto came up with a great save, but his block was superbly volleyed home by the late-arriving Nainggolan, one of the stars of the show. Roma were comfortably in control after taking the lead, and Fiorentina weren't able to create any chances before halftime despite an early substitution from Montella, replacing the overwhelmed Brillante with Josip Ilicic and retreating Borja Valero to midfield.

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In the second half Fiorentina were forced to attack and the game opened up and (likely) became more enjoyable for the neutral as well. Fiorentina still struggled to reliably create chances for a time while Roma found more space on the counterattack. Both Stefan Savic and Gonzalo Rodriguez were called into last-minute interventions on Gervinho after poor giveaways in midfield (one absolutely ungodly one by Pizarro almost deserved to be punished with a goal), and Neto came out in outstanding fashion to deny the Ivorian as well from point blank range. At the same time, however, Borja Valero and Ilicic began to find a bit of rhythm, sparking the Viola attack briefly.

Ilicic rattled the bar with a superb free kick from distance, and Khouma Babacar had maybe the best chance of the game in the 62nd minute, where his turn and volley off of a cross in the box required a superb save from Morgan De Sanctis to deny him the equalizer. Joaquin's entrance for Babacar shortly thereafter continued to mount pressure, as the Spaniard entered the fray well, hitting a good effort just wide of De Sanctis' near post, and putting pressure on the Roma defenders. In the end however, the game dissolved into a pattern similar to how it began, as a chippy and slow-paced affair that Roma could easily control, although with Fiorentina seeing a bit more of the ball. The second Roma goal came with virtually no time left, when a dispirited visiting side switched off, allowing Nainggolan to pick a fantastic assist to the onrushing Gervinho, who this time made no mistake, rounding Neto before finishing.

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In other words, a tough one to watch for those with a Fiorentina inclination, and many hard lessons for a team coming off of a very positive preseason. Hopefully the team will learn and grow from the performance and result, and remember the stretches of the second half where the team was less reactive and more positive with their play. Marcos Alonso was a bright spot, and the team can and will play much much better. But Roma are clearly better at this moment, and that is dispiriting in a different fashion.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>43- Tonight vs Roma, Fiorentina have held their lowest ball possession (43%) since May 2012 (76 games). Suffered <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RomaFiorentina?src=hash">#RomaFiorentina</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SerieA?src=hash">#SerieA</a></p>&mdash; OptaPaolo (@OptaPaolo) <a href="https://twitter.com/OptaPaolo/statuses/505822561364885504">August 30, 2014</a></blockquote>

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<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Neto 6.5&#10;Tomo 5&#10;Gonzalo 5.5&#10;Savić 6&#10;Alonso 6&#10;Brillante 5&#10;Pizarro 5&#10;Vargas 5&#10;Borja 5.5&#10;Baba 6&#10;Gomez 5.5&#10;-&#10;Iličić 5.5&#10;Joaquín 6.5&#10;Montella </p>&mdash; Viola Nation (@Viola_Nation) <a href="https://twitter.com/Viola_Nation/statuses/505818341312053248">August 30, 2014</a></blockquote>

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