Kevin Strootman not up to his usual best in Lazio draw

Posted by Julian De Martinis

The general consensus seems to be that Roma’s Kevin Strootman had a poor game against Lazio this weekend. Taking a quick look at the breakdown of his stats and performance from Squawka, the numbers reflect a usually reliable performer playing below his standards, but so did Roma’s left flank in general against a particular against a strong Lazio right side.

As for Strootman on an individual level, his numbers against Lazio were pretty mediocre. He had 81 percent pass accuracy, averaged a pass length of 17 meters, had 2 defensive actions, won 44 percent of aerial duels, created five chances, and was booked after the game ended, which may have not only negatively impacted his score on the site but added insult to injury.

His season average before then is not terribly different: 40 percent aerial duels won, 89 percent pass accuracy, same average pass length, 4 defensive actions, booked 4 times. His average in the three games before Lazio however showed Strootman was in a very good run of form. In the wins over Genoa, Livorno and Verona he was averaging 53 percent in aerial duels won, 89 percent passing accuracy, 67 percent shooting accuracy and created seventeen chances, even being named Man of the Match against Livorno. His performance against Lazio thus may have seemed even worse than it was been precisely because he was so effective in the weeks before, even if throughout the course of the season he has had similar numbers in some areas.

Highlighting key statistics however can be much more revealing, and one area where he truly struggled in the Derby was tackling. Strootman only successfully completed 50 percent of the twelve tackles he attempted, 3 of which were on Antonio Candreva. Of the six he missed, two were on Candreva and one was against Miroslav Klose, the latter of whom he also lost a headed duel. The failed attempts were almost all in dangerous areas near Roma’s box -- and to anyone watching, seeing Candreva and Klose win these battles in key areas certainly reinforces the notion that he was not as comfortable as he often is.

A domino effect on his flank is not hard to imagine: if Strootman was struggling, Alessandro Florenzi and Vasilis Torosidis might also struggle – and both did. Florenzi seemed more withdrawn than he’d usually be, spending a large chunk of time in the middle of the pitch and Torosidis often found himself against Lazio’s most dangerous player Candreva without much help.

Florenzi especially was very quiet during his 64 minutes, attempting just 20 passes and one shot. He was very efficient in what he did attempt – 2/2 in clearances, 1/1 in tackles – but it was really just too little to really have much of an impact. Torosidis was far livelier, sticking to his flank instead of being forced inwards. He went 11/11 in clearances and 1/1 in take-ons, but just 1/3 in tackles and 74 percent passing out of 46 attempted.

It may be easy to deduce that Strootman’s poor game pushed Florenzi inward and left Torosidis against Candreva and Konko unsupported but correlation is not causation. The poor performance of the flank could, for example, have been a combination of Florenzi drifting inward to help cover the winger that left Strootman and Torosidis exposed, or just a combination of three players playing below par against a side that had a right flank with a good fullback in Konko and one of Italy’s most tricky wingers in Candreva.

It is safe to say that the left flank in general had a poor day, with three usually reliable performers not playing to their potential -- though Florenzi does have a tendency to go through periods of very good form to periods where not much seems to go right, despite his hard work. Torosidis and Strootman however found a tough day against one of Italy’s better wingers and a rejuvenated side in the Derby in displays far less than they are capable.

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