Eight from eight as Roma roll on

Posted by Julian De Martinis

With a 2-0 win over Napoli at home, the Roma train rumbles on throughout the night. Since it departed from the station eight match-days ago, it has yet to stop. Little teams and big ones have been brushed aside as Rudi Garcia continuously figures out ways to prevent his side from doing anything but taking maximum points.

- Report: Roma 2-0 Napoli

Against Napoli on Friday, for example, Francesco Totti went off early with an injury to his left thigh. On came Marco Borriello; it would have been largely expected for Roma to suffer without their captain, in brilliant form this season, and a striker on who had yet to convince at all this season. Instead, Borriello turned out to be a minor masterstroke. His presence in the middle gave Dodo and Douglas Maicon a target and one of the earliest chances for the home side was a shot from Alessandro Florenzi that arose out of a Borriello knockdown from Kevin Strootman's long ball.

The side were in quiet control for much of the early part of the match without any goals to reinforce their early dominance. Gervinho set a shot wide from a counter-attack, but the best chance came from Napoli, wrestling the momentum of play away from Roma late in the first half as Goran Pandev sprung the offside trap. His shot was partially smothered by Morgan De Sanctis, getting just enough of a hand onto it to allow the sliding Daniele De Rossi enough time to knock the ball out of play before it crossed the line.

And it was the vice-captain -- who got to wear the armband after Totti's departure -- who put in a monstrous performance. He was, quite simply, the De Rossi of old as he's been all season. A superb asset at the back, often filling in for Leandro Castan when the Brazilian grazes forward, he allows Strootman and Miralem Pjanic to do what they do best. The latter, scorer of two goals on the night, the same week he helped lead Bosnia to next year's World Cup, gave Roma hope and sent the side into the break with a lead off a simply sublime free kick that Pepe Reina could do absolutely nothing to stop.

It's no real surprise that his penalty midway through the second half was finished with similar aplomb after Borriello was taken down in the box by Paolo Cannavaro. Napoli, much like Inter a short time ago, did not play like a side that deserved to lose but nor did Roma. The difference was simply that Roma was able to score, as they've been able to so often this season, while their opponents have found the defense impossible to bypass.

Without Totti and with Gervinho looking more mortal than he has in recent weeks, losing points to this Napoli side would have been no shame, as Dortmund can attest. Instead, Roma rolled on as it has all season up to this point, adapting and bending, pushing and defending, until the points are theirs at the end of the match.


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