Nainggolan continues to boost his value in latest starring role for Roma

Monday February 27th, 2017

"Radja for the Oscar!" declared the front page of Corriere dello Sport after Roma midfielder Radja Nainggolan’s two goals against Inter Milan kept some pressure on Serie A leader Juventus at the top of the table. Roma won 3-1, with Nainggolan scoring in his fourth straight league game. The Belgian has benefited from a tactical switch which has seen him pushed up to play alongside Mohamed Salah just behind Edin Dzeko in a 3-4-2-1. Another paper, Corriere della Sera, said Nainggolan is playing like a cross between Francesco Totti and Gennaro Gattuso. Linked to Chelsea last summer, his price tag has certainly gone up considerably this season.

A word of praise is also due to Federico Fazio, whose Roma form has been outstanding since he joined the club last summer. Part of a back three with Antonio Rudiger and Kostas Manolas, the unit has only conceded three goals in its last seven games.

The other big game in Italy went Roma’s way, too, as Atalanta beat third-placed Napoli 2-0 to close to within three points of its rival in a key bout for Champions League positioning. Napoli’s season is threatening to unravel after president Aurelio de Laurentiis slammed the players after the 3-1 Champions League loss at Real Madrid.

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“The players lacked the right attitude, we scored a very good goal but then they seemed to be blocked. There was a lack of aggression. The team lacked personality,” said de Laurentiis.

Coach Maurizio Sarri responded in kind: “I’m at training every day and I am the one who chooses," he said. "The president can express his ideas. I'd rather he expressed them directly to me, but in the end I decide. If we make that many mistakes, it's difficult to be brave. If you misplace the second pass, you won't build any pressure.”

There is now a danger that Atalanta could overtake Napoli in the race for Champions League qualification, and it doesn't get much easier for Napoli: Next up is a trip to face Roma.

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