AS Roma made the most of slip ups of teams around them as they overcame Torino 1-0 in Serie A on Saturday. The win at the Stadio Olimpico Grande Torino saw the Lupi bolster their claims for a Champions League spot, with an imperious defence aided by a new-look attack.
With the pressure of the opportunity presented to them thanks to results elsewhere, any early nerves were settled as Paulo Dybala stepped up to score a penalty after Perr Schuurs handled.
Indeed, many a Roma team in the recent past have crumbled when offered the chance to take advantage of other results, but Jose Mourinho‘s side were able to seal the win after Inter, AC Milan, and Atalanta had all dropped points.
Defensive resilience at the heart of Roma’s success
Whilst their attack has not always lit up the league, the Giallorossi enjoy an excellent defensive record, with only Napoli and Lazio bettering the 29 goals conceded.
Led by the superb Chris Smalling, Roma have risen up the table on account of being able to grind out tight victories, with a three-man defence backed up by a tight central midfield.
Torino weren’t without their chances, though could not find a way past the excellent Rui Patricio or the composed Diego Llorente, with the visitors’ positioning ensuring that the Granata could not get through.
However, with Dybala and Ola Solbakken impressing, the capital club were able to secure another clean sheet and a crucial three points.
Dybala the difference maker
Dybala impressed in a false nine role, dropping deep to collect the ball and allow Solbakken to push forward, with Stephan El Shaarawy drifting wide. The Argentine World Cup winner has carried Roma for much of this campaign and his influence is likely to be a considerable factor in their hopes of finishing in the top four.
The summer signing from Juventus netted his early penalty and was regularly swapping positions with Solbakken, whilst his ability to ride tackles and draw fouls was crucial to Roma‘s regular attacking threat.
Mourinho mixes it up
Roma are currently balancing their priorities, with a return to the Champions League through a top four finish in Serie A being weighed alongside their Europa League ambitions, but Mourinho was not left regretting the changes made to his team.
A new look attack of Solbakken and El Shaarawy flanking the dazzling Dybala gave Roma pace and deftness up front, with more traditional strikers Tammy Abraham and Andrea Belotti rested.
The Giallorossi have a difficult continental test against Feyenoord in the Europa League quarter-finals on Thursday but prepared in the best way, allowing Roger Ibanez to rest for Llorente, and a change of the forwards giving Mourinho options in midweek.