Roma v Ternana talking points: Pastore and Antonucci central in more ways than one

Roma had to come from a goal behind to beat Serie C side Ternana in the second of two friendlies played on Saturday.

It was the first time Roma have found themselves in a losing position under Paulo Fonseca so far, but second half goals from Cengiz Under (2) and Gregoire Defrel put that right, securing a 3-1 win.

Apart from goalkeeper Pau Lopez, who took the place of Daniel Fuzato, Fonseca started with the same lineup that had finished the morning’s win over Rieti, making wholesale changes around 70 minutes in, mirroring what he had done in the first match of the day.

It gave viewers a chance to assess the performances of the players who had only made brief cameos in the morning games, as Fonseca continues to instill his style into the squad.

Pastore links up well with Under

Javier Pastore has returned for this pre-season like a new man. Whereas last season he put in minimal effort, his attitude has been spot on so far, as he looks to correct the negative portrayal he had partially made for himself. Playing in the number 10 role, Pastore was integral to the fluidity of Roma’s attacks. He particularly linked up well with Cengiz Under on his right, with the duo flicking the ball to each other often. Towards the end of the first half, they each created a chance for one another within the space of a minute, with Pastore shooting wide and Cengiz being thwarted by the keeper. And it was Pastore who set up Under for Roma’s first goal, picking him out with a deft chip to get past the tight defence, before the winger took two bites of the cherry to finish from a wide angle. On a sidenote, Under’s two finishes showed again how clinical and sharp he is looking; he could easily be in line for a 15-goal season.

Perotti goes it alone

In contrast, Diego Perotti found himself rather isolated, not linking up as well with his compatriot Pastore. Even when the left winger, who celebrated his 31st birthday on Friday, came inside to get involved, he wasn’t picked out as often. In parts he was over-confident on the ball and greedy, when he should have mixed his game up by bringing others into play as well. He started pre-season on the front foot, but his last couple of performances have been a bit sub par, meaning the left wing spot is still up for grabs.

Antonucci continues to be central

With the way things are going so far, even Mirko Antonucci could stake a claim for that role. The youngster has thrived upon his return to the club following time out on loan last year, and if he can replicate these kind of performances against stronger opposition, he may well force himself into Fonseca’s plans. When he came on in the second half, it was telling that he was deployed in the attacking midfield role that had been occupied by Pastore, whereas Nicolo Zaniolo, who also prefers that position, had to cover on the right wing. Either man could have done a job in either position, so can we read anything into the fact that it was Antonucci who was favoured in the more important role? He is of course further down the line physically compared to Zaniolo, given that he has been there since the start of pre-season while last season’s breakout star arrived late, but if it was a tactical decision, maybe it shows how highly he is regarded by Fonseca.

Cristante key to pressing

Bryan Cristante is taking on more and more of a defensive role. While his passing has come into question so far, he has been doing the dirty work – and his work rate has been a major positive. Against Ternana, it was midfield partner Amadou Diawara who continued to be the playmaker from deep, whereas Cristante was often the first man to press the ball when Roma lost possession. He worked hard to close down opponents, showing the kind of work rate that inspires teammates to do the same. Cristante is far from the full package, but he is showing how willing he is to take on a slightly different role so that he can still make an impression.

Placing the blame for the Ternana goal

Roma had to respond to going behind for the first time this summer, after Ternana took the lead through captain Marino Defendi. The goal came from a free kick, which was conceded by Juan Jesus. The Brazilian defender tried to make a tackle when the ball wasn’t clearly there for the taking – with plenty of cover behind him too – which gave the referee an easy decision to make. After the initial shot from the resulting free kick hit the bar, Patrik Schick showed a lack of intensity and desire to stop the follow-up effort from Defendi, turning his body rather than making an effort to block it.

Player Ratings: Lopez 6; Florenzi 7; Fazio 7; Jesus 5; Kolarov 8; Diawara 7; Cristante 7; Under 8; Pastore 9; Perotti 5; Schick 6
Subs: Mirante 6; Karsdorp 6; Mancini 6; Spinazzola 7; Nzonzi 6; Santon 6; Zaniolo 7; Antonucci 7; Kluivert 6; Defrel 6

Man of the Match: Pastore

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