AS Roma were able to hold Fiorentina to a 1-1 draw on Serie A Matchday 15 despite being reduced to nine men, and they were eager to hold on to that point at any cost.
Romelu Lukaku scored for the Giallorossi after just five minutes, but they did not have another shot that hit the target for the remainder of the match. Nicola Zalewski and the Belgian were sent off in the second half, but the Roman club ensured that the Gigliati did not add to Lucas Martinez Quarta’s equaliser.
AS Roma coach Jose Mourinho also had two replace two of his forwards due to injuries. Paulo Dybala came off in the first half, and his replacement Sardar Azmoun did not complete the game either, further limiting his attacking options.
AS Roma draw had that touch of Mourinho pragmatism and cynicism
Mourinho has not been one for entertaining football, achieving success throughout most of his career by nullifying the opposition. His Fiorentina counterpart Vincenzo Italiano certainly believes in a proactive approach and this played into the hands of the Portuguese tactician.
Although the Giallorossi were happy to defend, they did leave gaps for the Gigliati to expose, and they would resort to rough tackles whenever necessary. Zalewski earned two yellow cards for blatant fouls whereas Lukaku received a straight red card for collecting one of Christian Kouame’s legs.
If a skillful player like Zalewski and a prolific striker like Lukaku can commit those type of fouls, it shows that the AS Roma squad will resort to the dark arts because Mourinho has persuaded them to resort to such methods. The style of The Special One is not one for the neutrals, but his cynical approach worked against Fiorentina, and it stopped the Gigliati from playing their football.
Familiar story at AS Roma with injuries as Dybala and Azmoun limp off
Throughout his time in Rome so far, Dybala has been plagued with his share of injuries, and it was no different against Fiorentina. However, his replacement Azmoun had to come off the pitch as well.
The mercurial Argentinian forward was replaced in the 25th minute with the Iranian attacker after suffering another muscular injury, but Azmoun started picking up numerous knocks in the process. Eventually, Stephan El Shaarawy had to replace the 28-year-old, who was clutching onto one of his legs, after 62 minutes.
With Tammy Abraham still sidelined with a knee injury, this will leave Mourinho with El Shaarawy and Andrea Belotti to choose from in attack. If they get injured, The Special One might have to promote a player from the AS Roma Primavera or play with no forwards. The latter option might actually please the Portuguese tactician.
Martinez Quarta scores like a forward for Fiorentina
Argentinian defender Lucas Martinez Quarta has been a capable scorer for Fiorentina since he arrived from River Plate in October 2020, scoring eight goals in 101 competitive matches for the Gigliati.
He scored from a header against AS Roma after connecting with Kouame’s cross from the left wing and it was his third goal for the 2023/24 Serie A campaign. Only midfielder Giacomo Bonaventura and winger Nicolas Gonzalez has scored more than the centre-back in Serie A with six goals each.
With Lucas Beltran and M’Bala Nzola struggling to score goals, Italiano needs other Fiorentina players to contribute in the scoring. Martinez Quarta might not be the most likely player to score, but he is an option the Viola need.