In the fourth round of Serie A 2020/21, Roma, with 4 points from one win and one draw in the previous three games, hosted Benevento, who are ambitious to complete their wonderful start in which they achieved two wins from three games.
As expected, Roma managed to achieve a big victory of 5-2 to reach their seventh point while Benevento remained with six.
This tactical analysis breaks down the tactics of the match between Roma and Benevento. With the use of match footage and data, this analysis unpacks what happened in Roma’s 5-2 win over Benevento.
Paulo Fonseca started the game with a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Antonio Mirante as the goalkeeper and a defensive line of Davide Santon, Roger Ibañez da Silva, Gianluca, Mancini, and Leonardo Spinazzola. In midfield were Jordan Veretout, Bryan Cristante, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Pedro Rodríguez who joined from Chelsea, and Henrikh Mkhitaryan (formerly of EPL side Arsenal), led by Edin Džeko in attack.
On the other hand, Benevento started the match with a 4-3-2-1 scheme. Lorenzo Montipò was the goalkeeper, and in the four-men defensive line were Gaetano Letizia, Kamil Glik, Luka Caldirola, and Daam Foulon. The midfield trio was Pasquale Schiattarella, Artur Ioniţă, and Bryan Dabo. In attack, Gianluca Caprari, Lago Falqué Silva, and Gianluca Lapadula teamed up.
Roma’s building up and transitions
Roma’s players tried to build up from the back whenever they had the chance, by dropping off the two midfielders to their own third, so that one of them receives the ball while the other moves in the empty space on both sides of the field to give him an opportunity to pass and overcome the pressure of Benevento players.
Here, for example, we can see the movements of Roma players in their defensive zones during the building up. Veretout moves to receive the ball from the goalkeeper while Cristante moves on the right side of the field so that he is an option to pass.
When the team was in a phase of transition from defence to attack, Džeko dropped into the midfield to receive the ball sent from the back and then pass it directly to the wing in the spaces behind the Benevento defenders.
As shown below, we can see that Džeko dropped into the midfield and received the ball brilliantly. Then he passed it directly towards Pedro in the space behind the left-back of Benevento.
Roma’s attacking phase
Roma’s great victory was certainly not a coincidence as it was a result of the team’s offensive work, which resulted in a large number of offensive chances, which is clearly evident in the (xG) report of the match. It shows a great advantage for the Roma players with 4.33 expected goals throughout the match.
Roma’s players relied on attacking as a unit and the close proximity between them in the offensive areas. They tried to overload the box with a large number of players in one area to confuse the Benevento defenders and their inability to monitor well inside the box, as shown below, where the Roma players overloaded the box with four players and they scored a goal from this opportunity.
Roma’s attacking from the left side
Roma players relied mainly on the left side of the field in attack, whatever the attack method, whether it is when the team is in a state of transition or in another organised attacks – this appears below in the xG by flanks report. The percentage of goals expected from the left side represents 71% of the total goals expected in the match.
Here, for example, when the ball was with Pedro, he passed it to the left side towards Mkhitaryan, who waited for Spinazzola to pass the ball to him in more dangerous areas in the final third.
Here is another example, in the second goal that came via Džeko, the ball was with Pedro and he passed it in almost the same way to Džeko in the left half-space and the latter managed to score a goal successfully.
Benevento’s pressing and attacking
The pressure of Benevento players in their areas wasn’t intense enough throughout the match, as the Roma players passed the ball freely in Benevento’s half. This lack of pressure is shown below in the (PPDA) report for the match. It reached 54 free passes without pressure per attack.
But the high pressure of the Benevento players was very effective, as it prevented Roma’s players from the building up freely. As shown below, the pressure of Benevento’s players on Roma’s players resulted in them getting a penalty from which they scored their second goal.
And in their attack, they always rely on the movement of two players in the box in order to give opportunities to pass to the player who has the ball. As it shows below, Caprari had two chances to pass inside the box for both Lapadula and Falqué, but he preferred to shoot and actually scored a great goal.
Benevento’s defensive issues
On the phases of defence, Benevento players suffered a lot from several defensive issues, when they are in a state of transitions.
They are not well positioned and they don’t press on the player who receives the ball, but they let him receive the ball comfortably. Undoubtedly, the Benevento’s defensive transitions were the biggest weakness of them throughout the match, as shown below Džeko receives and passes the ball without pressure.
One of the problems they also suffered from throughout the match was lining up badly and leaving large spaces behind them that were well exploited by Roma players. Here, for example, Benevento players stand in a disorganised manner, which led to a pass behind them and a goal.
Roma players have collected three important points on their journey in Serie A this season after their victory over Benevento. On the other hand, Benevento suffered their second defeat this season.
The Roma players played a good offensive match but had some defensive mistakes, they hope to improve it in the next match, while Benevento should analyse their weaknesses and prevent these mistakes in their upcoming games.