x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Primera Liga recruits make Roma and Enrique see red in Italy

Ian Hawkey: Roma's priority now is not so much to find the tiki-taka, but lose the temper-temper.

It was a spicy weekend for relations between Italy and Spain. First, "La Roja" and the "Azzurri" were drawn in the same Group for Euro 2012.

That let the Italians remind the Spanish that, over time, the boys in blue have won more than the players in red, before acknowledging that, as world and European champions, the reds have recently gained the upper hand.

Then, on Sunday, we witnessed Serie A's Spanish experiment suffer the most humiliating of its several setbacks so far.

The score line Fiorentina 3, Roma 0 was not even the worse aspect of the day for Roma's Spanish coach, Luis Enrique, appointed to supposedly bring Barcelona-style football to the Italian top flight. Or some tiki-taka, as one-touch pass and move is known in Spain.

Having themselves suspended Daniel Pablo Osvaldo for the game because the striker fought with teammate Erik Lamela, Roma lost three players to red cards in defeat, including Fernando Gago and Bojan Krkic, two of several players recently recruited from the Primera Liga. Gabriel Heinze, another summer recruit should probably also have been dismissed.

Amid all this loss of control, Enrique looks more and more like the novice manager he is.

But blame should be shared out among those of his bosses who were involved in the recruitment of players. Heinze has always been a unpolished ruffian, and Gago prone to ponderousness on the ball and fits of pique off it.

Roma's priority now is not so much to find the tiki-taka, but lose the temper-temper.