X Never, Ever Marks the Spot

In a team in which the wheels are spinning endlessly, the one in midfield has begun spinning a bit slower, as if settling into a pace optimal for its performance. There's ceaseless rotation all across the team, but lately much less so in midfield, where DDR, Pjanic and Gago have established themselves as a would-be fundament for this construction. They aren't statues, immovable objects set in stone, but more like pylons; they're not permanent, but mark the spot for where a bridge will one day run.


But while this trio might have emerged as the fore-runners for Luis Enrique's preferred midfield, the rotation is still present on a micro-level. Last night, as lately, Gago started as the deep-lying anchor to the more freed companions, De Rossi and Pjanic. About midway through the first half, DDR moved from the left side of midfield he'd occupied until that point, swapping areas with Pjanic who slotted in effortlessly. In the second half, another change: DDR took on Gago's role as midfield anchor, releasing the latter to play further up front.

While the incessant rotation all across the team can be frustrating, the rotation within the midfield makes sense. Roma's first goal was impeccable triangulation in work: DDR, from his position to the left of the centre, set up a pass down the channel to Taddei, whose cross along the goal line reached Pjanic, who'd joined the attack by sneaking in undetected from Lecce's weak side. The second goal was assisted by Pjanic, who set up Gago for his goal.

It's hard to argue against two assists and two goals from one midfield trio.