Slavia Prague took the old saying ‘eye for an eye’ too seriously as they avenged a 2-0 defeat to Roma at the Stadio Olimpico with an identical home success tonight. The Czech outfit knocked Giallorossi down from a perfect three-game Europa League start this season with a dominant performance at the Fortuna Arena.
Piling personnel problems forced Jose Mourinho to swerve from his preferable 3-5-2 formation as Roma lined up in a 4-3-3 for the first time this season. A three-game winning start to their Group G campaign helped Giallorossi create a buffer ahead of the kick-off, alleviating some pressure on Mourinho’s understrength starting XI.
However, Roma opted for a defensive approach and finished the first half without a single attempt on goal. Slavia made the Italians pay for the lack of attacking ambition at the start of the second half. Vaclav Jurecka latched onto Mojmir Chytil’s pass inside the six-yard box to open the scoring in the 50th minute.
Despite showing signs of life after falling behind, Roma lost a foothold in the game when Lukas Masopust’s long-range thunderbolt rippled the net in the 74th minute.
Let’s look at our player ratings.
Mile Svilar – 6.5
Making several routine interventions in the early stages boosted his confidence. Pulled off a stunning save in the build-up to Slavia’s opener but was powerless in the follow-up.
Zeki Celik – 6
Despite switching flanks in the second half, the Turk couldn’t make any difference attacking-wise. But his defensive contribution was immense.
Diego Llorente – 6.5
Asked to hold the keys of Roma’s backline again, the Spaniard came up with another reassuring performance, making several last-ditch tackles to avert the danger.
Evan Ndicka – 5.5
In addition to completing countless interceptions in the first half, Mourinho’s new defensive stalwart was inches away from making a goal-saving off-the-line clearance in the 50th minute. But slow to close down Masopust for Slavia’s second.
Gianluca Mancini – 5.5
Deployed as a makeshift left-back, the captain had some clumsy moments in the first half but did well to recover after poor first-time reactions. Notably improved after reverting to his natural position in the second half.
Edoardo Bove – 6.5
Leaving his heart and soul on the pitch to help Roma endure the siege accounted for an admirable effort, but it inevitably took its toll in the attacking sense.
Leandro Paredes – 6
Frustration for another unconvincing showing boiled over toward the end of the first half as he picked up another booking for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Houssem Aouar – 3
Failing to establish midfield control against a side of Slavia’s stature must be frustrating for a player of his caliber. But he was nowhere to be seen when Roma had a chance to build from the back. Miserably flopped tonight!
Andrea Belotti – 4
It was another near-anonymous performance from the troubled striker who had to play as a right-winger. He barely touched the ball in the first half. Moved more central after the break but failed to improve.
Stephan El Shaarawy – 5
Despite starting as a winger, the Italian forward spent most of the game helping out at the back without having a single meaningful contact with the ball on the opposition half. Kudos for the commitment.
Romelu Lukaku – 4
With Roma defending tooth and nail against Slavia’s relentless attacks, the in-form frontman quickly faded into oblivion. Other than making a few defensive clearances, he had no impact on the game whatsoever.
Rick Karsdorp – 4.5
Once again too conservative with the ball at his feet despite being given acres of space on numerous occasions.
Bryan Cristante – 6
Injected energy and creativity into a toothless Roma midfield after taking Aouar’s place at the start of the second half.
Paulo Dybala – 4.5
Did not influence proceedings since coming on midway through the second half.
Renato Sanches – 4
Injuries might be taking their toll on the box-to-box midfielder as he did nothing noteworthy.
Joao Costa – N/A
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