Pizarro returns to reignite Roma

Over the past week, much has been made of the return of one diminutive player in a coaching capacity, but a great deal less has been said about the return of Roma’s diminutive playmaker David Pizarro. His return to the starting line up has been long anticipated by all Romanisti and against Bologna on Wednesday he did not disappoint. Last season, Pizarro was arguably the best midfielder in Serie A. His metronomic passing and intelligent use of the ball provided the platform for many a Roma victory and his partnership with Daniele De Rossi brought stability to the spine of the side.
This season, however, things have not gone quite so well for the man known as Peq. He has struggled with injury but also seemed to suffer in former Coach Claudio Ranieri’s preferred 4-3-1-2 formation. With Vincenzo Montella now in charge, it is likely that Pizarro will be reinstated as one of the mainstays of the Roma side. Montella has reverted to the 4-2-3-1 formation favoured by Luciano Spalletti, the man who brought Pizarro to the club back in 2006.
This formation suits Pizarro down to the ground. Working in tandem with De Rossi, he is not expected to put in all action midfield performances but to dictate the play from deep, to keep Roma in possession and to maintain his side’s rhythm. With De Rossi rushing around, tackling and breaking up the play, Pizarro is charged with picking up the pieces and setting Roma moving. He also offers a cool head in the midfield and very rarely gives away free kicks. Incredibly, in nine starts Pizarro has only conceded four fouls while being fouled 30 times in the same period.
It is not just in midfield that the Chilean has a positive effect. In his absence, there has been a glaring lack of creativity in Roma’s midfield. This has led to the likes of Jeremy Menez, Mirko Vucinic and Francesco Totti trying to influence games by dropping deeper to pick up possession. This has limited their effectiveness as each operates best around the opposition penalty area as opposed to on the half way line. With Pizarro back in the side, they can remain further up the pitch safe in the knowledge that the ball is more than likely to reach them.
One man convinced of Pizarro’s importance is Montella. When explaining his selections after the Bologna match, he revealed: “I forced David Pizarro to play, even if he is not 100% yet, as I need him. He was exceptional and stayed on the field to the end.” These words will certainly encourage Romanisti and they will hope that Pizarro’s return will continue to have a positive effect on the whole team. Indeed, his performance against Bologna was better than any turned in by the likes of Matteo Brighi and Leandro Greco so far this season and, according to Montella, he is not even at 100% yet!

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