Villarreal 0-4 Roma. Well, in some ways it really wasn’t that bad, but...yeah, it really was. The first half was pretty even, Roma’s goal coming from a turnover by Samu Castillejo but a peach of a shot from Emerson outside the box. And Villarreal had a great chance to tie it, with Cedric Bakambu failing to emulate Emerson, and firing wide when he had the goal at his mercy. That was with an hour gone, and at that point it seemed as though the tie was fairly even and maybe we could, you know, score somehow (though it still wasn’t looking all THAT likely).
But then, Roma’s coach made a substitution—curiously, an attacking one, bringing on Mohammed Salah for el Shaarawy. And that paid dividends almost immediately as Salah took advantage of Jaume Costa being pushed up high in support of attack and slipped a pass to Džeko whose feint made Mateo Musacchio overrun him, and the Roma man fired the ball home.
Another Villarreal error—this time, Victor Ruiz mistiming his jump and letting Džeko run free in to the box and beat Asenjo one-on-one—led to the third goal, and just for kicks, Džeko added another three minutes from time, faking Musacchio out again and giving Roma the biggest win ever at El Madrigal/Estadio de la Ceramica in a European tie.
WhoScored gave Džeko 10 out of 10, which seems fair. Such was the domination of the visitors that I really can’t tell you who our best player even was, or if we had one.
The ramifications of this loss could be widespread. Lots of fans are wanting Escribá fired after this performance. Something is clearly wrong—not just based on today, but on performances throughout the season. We don’t have the fire and competitiveness we did under Marcelino, but we also don’t seem to have invested very well. Either we have bought players who just aren’t as good as we thought, they need more time to come good, or they are being misused in Escribá’s system.
The speed players like Bakambu and Cheryshev have made no impact this season, while Samu Castillejo, Roberto Soriano and Nicola Sansone have drifted in and out of games too (Sansone was invisible today). It just doesn’t look as though we have any clear direction on the pitch. In our last 6 matches we have scored exactly twice from open play, both against Granada.