AS Roma finished last season in 6th place, after a troubled year with Di Francesco and Ranieri as coaches; Daniele De Rossi left the team for Boca Juniors, and Paulo Fonseca is the new manager of the team, aiming to have an offensive style of play centred on the Bosnian star Edin Džeko. Genoa CFC have saved the season at the last match-day with a controversial draw with Fiorentina while Empoli was relegated. The Empoli’s coach, Aurelio Andreazzoli, now sits on the Genoa’s bench, ready to give to the “Grifone” his ball oriented style of play, with the help of new signings like Lasse Schöne. This tactical analysis will examine the tactics of the two teams, and how the transformation after last year is going. The analysis will underline the problems and the strengths of the two teams, watching over the result.


Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Lineups from Wyscout

Paulo Fonseca starts with his preferred 4-2-3-1 formation, with the new signing Pau Lòpez in the goal, a classic Roma back four with Juan Jesus replacing Mancini, two holding midfielders (Jordan Veretout is still injured), Cristante and Pellegrini, and then the four offensive players; Cengiz Ünder on the right, Justin Kluivert in substitution of the injured Diego Perotti, the youngster Nicolò Zaniolo, and Edin Džeko. Aurelio Andreazzoli decides to play with a 3-5-2 formation; Genoa’s goalkeeper is protected by a back three composed by the on-loan from Juventus player Cristian Romero, new signing Cristian Zapata and the captain, Domenico Criscito. On the flanks, there are the former AS Monaco player Antonio Barreca, and the youngster Paolo Ghiglione, while the midfielders are Lerager, Radovanović and former Ajax star Lasse Schöne. The two strikers are Christian Kouamè and the young Andrea Pinamonti, who has played the Fifa U-20 World Cup with Italy.

Roma’s build-up and offensive plays

Roma often don’t want to build up from the back, but they play long throws searching for Džeko to put down and recycle the ball; when they play the ball from the back, they use a quadrilateral build-up between the two centre-backs Fazio and Jesus, and the two holding midfielders, Cristante, and former Sassuolo player Lorenzo Pellegrini. The two midfielders often wide themselves to push higher on the field the fullbacks and open up spaces for laser passes for the wingers and the offensive midfielder.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Quadrilateral build-up from Roma; Cristante is going wide, pushing Kolarov up, creating new passing lanes for the ball carrier.

Paulo Fonseca loves to attack with a ball oriented style of play, trying to control the ball and have granted at the same time depth, width, and control of the half-spaces with his tactics. To do this, he raises up his fullbacks, pushing the wingers inside into the half-spaces, to create fast combinations with the Roma’s offensive midfielder Nicolò Zaniolo, while Džeko tries to give depth stretching the opponent’s defence.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma Vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
After one minute we can spot this situation; Florenzi and Kolarov stay wide on the flanks, pushing in the half-spaces the wingers, Kluivert and Ünder, in a narrow position near to Zaniolo. Džeko is going in-depth. Genoa’s coach Andreazzoli decides to defend narrow with his 5-3-2 during the defensive phase, preferring to concede width to the fullbacks but obstructing the centre.

After that, sometimes Džeko comes down to play the ball and open spaces for the wingers, like in the first goal from Cengiz Ünder. But the Roma tactics are clear; one player in-depth, two in-width, and three in the centre to play fast combinations behind the opponent’s midfield, triggered by laser passes from the quadrilateral build-up players.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Pellegrini has got the ball and plays a ball through to Justin Kluivert, who is really near to Zaniolo and Ünder; they have so much space thanks to Kolarov who stays wide on the left flank, and Florenzi, out of the image, who stays on the right, stretching the opponent’s defence. He plays the ball with the first touch to Zaniolo, who can aim and shoot to the goal.

The solutions to be dangerous to the opponent’s goal are multiple; the three offensive midfielders behind Džeko can combine with fast combinations and then try to play a through ball or shoot, or they can widen the ball to the fullbacks to put in a cross, or play the ball back to the midfielders to then attack the depth.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
The three offensive midfielders are pinning up two of the three opponent midfielders and even Romero and Ghiglione, leaving spaces to exploit for Džeko. With this ball through from Cristante Džeko can attack the goal and score the 2-1 with a wondrous play.

Roma is even great in playing fast transitions after they have recovered the ball in a high zone of the pitch; to do this, Roma‘s players attack the opponents when they have the ball overloading the area with a huge number of players, to recovery the ball and then start a counter-attack with various choices available.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Roma overloading the left flank to recover the ball fast in a good zone of the field. After that, they will play a through ball to Edin Džeko, thanks to their positioning.

Genoa’s play; finding Kouamè’s head, or the wing-backs run.

Genoa’s tactics provide to play the ball from the back with the back three, the holding midfielder Ivan Radovanović and sometimes the former Ajax player Lasse Schöne. While doing this, sometimes Schöne lowers himself between the back three (while Criscito goes wide on the flank pushing Barreca higher) playing a sort of ‘salida lavolpiana’ to create numerical superiority against Roma’s players.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Salida lavolpiana from Schöne, who lowers himself between the back-three to create numerical superiority and facilitate the ball progression. Ghiglione and Barreca are higher on the field, looking to have the ball in a second moment.

After that, Genoa is trying insistently to attract the opponent’s pressing to open spaces behind opponent lines and then find Lerager between the opponent’s lines, or Kouamè with a long throw, hoping that his headers will open up more spaces.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Long-throw from Ghiglione, pressed by Kolarov. With Lerager attacking the ball there is a 3vs3 situation. Kouamè will head the ball to Pinamonti, who is fouled by Juan Jesus gaining a penalty.

When Genoa‘s back three can find Lerager between the lines, he will attack the goal frontally, and he will be supported by the two strikers giving depth, and the wing-backs providing width, ready for cross the ball inside the area. Especially Paolo Ghiglione is an offensive wing-back good at crosses, as we will see in the third Genoa’s goal.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
Criscito on the ball attracts pressing and find Lerager behind Roma’s midfield. Lerager can conduce a 4vs3 with Ghiglione on his right, and Kouamè and Pinamonti pinning up the two Roma’s centre-backs.

When Genoa is fast enough to play those tactics and find combinations to attack Roma’s defence, they are really dangerous; probably some mechanisms in Roma’s defensive phase are yet to be completed, and new signing Mancini wasn’t in the starting XI, but even when he is used as a substitute, the problem isn’t solved. Ball served to Ghiglione on the right flank, numerical parity in the centre of the area, goal; Genoa is a cynical team, but they have good scorer and a really great organization.

Serie A 2019/20: Roma vs Genoa - tactical analysis tactics
This is a fast attack from Genoa, but it’s not enough to excuse Roma’s defence. Florenzi is late, and Mancini gives an easy way to Kouamè to attack the goal, leaving the blind side completely free.


After a great match, a draw is probably the most appropriate result for what we have seen in the field. Genoa is an ambitious team, who don’t have fear of playing the ball from the back even against top teams like Roma, remaining faithful to Andreazzoli’s tactics and ideals. They have something to register in the defensive phase, but they deserved the point and they can play a great season in Serie A. Roma has a powerful attack with Džeko leading it with great results, and this is confirmed even from Expected Goals (3 xG in the whole match); if Zappacosta had scored that easy goal in the last minute, we will be talking about another start of the season. But we have to see even the other side of the medal; for a great offensive phase, there is a poor defensive phase, especially from the centre-backs and Florenzi. Fazio and Jesus aren’t fast enough to play with this high defensive line, and they have suffered at long throws and through balls; Fonseca needs to find a solution because next week there is the mighty “Derby della Capitale” against Lazio, and this is already a crucial game in the context of the season.

Artwork by @chapulana

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