Friday,20 July, 2018
Current issue | Issue 1286, (10 - 16 March 2016)
Friday,20 July, 2018
Issue 1286, (10 - 16 March 2016)

Ahram Weekly

Roma’s next king

Mohamed Salah writes history as he downs former team Fiorentina, reports Marawan Zayed

Al-Ahram Weekly

Super Mohamed Salah obviously enjoys playing against his former team Fiorentina as he scored his second and third goals against them in just two games to help Roma win 4-1 and record their seventh straight league win.

The win also meant Roma leapfrogged Fiorentina to third place in the league table which means Champions League football next season. Prior to the game, much of the talk was about the lack of playing time given to Roma’s legend Francesco Totti by coach Luciano Spaletti and that the form of Salah and Stephan Al-Shaarawi was keeping Totti on the bench since he returned from injury. In fact, the media in Italy went a bit too far in their praise of Salah with some pundits describing the Egyptian as Roma’s new king. The Egyptian superstar continues to steal the spotlight week in, week out even against the top guns as was saw against Real Madrid where he ran Sergio Ramos ragged with his incredible speed and unpredictability.

In Roma’s game against Fiorentina this week Salah showed exactly why everyone in Rome is busy talking about his rise to the top instead of Totti’s situation. His man of the match display only highlighted why La Viola fans went crazy when they knew that Salah will not be staying in Florence beyond his loan spell.  A sublime assist by Salah to Al-Shaarawi in the 22nd minute left the Italian-Egyptian attacker with a simple tap into the empty net, signalling the start of a magnificent night for our Egyptian sensation. No more than four minutes later Salah put his name on the score sheet after his shot took a wicked deflection to fly into the back of the net after a neat give and go with Diego Perotti which showed that even the ball itself loves Salah at the moment.  A third goal from Perotti himself 12 minutes later meant that the game was all but over as Roma ran riot throughout the first 45 minutes even though a controversial penalty saw Fiorentina score a consolation goal in the last minute of the first half.

Salah and Roma started the second half with great intensity and speed and came close to adding to their tally on more than one occasion until Salah made sure the result was beyond doubt with his second of the night. A splendid long through ball from Miralem Pjanic saw Salah go one on one with the goalkeeper from a relatively tight angle but Roma’s new king dealt with it expertly as he slid the ball underneath the onrushing goalkeeper to send the home fans crazy in celebrations. Totti came on the 76th minute replacing Al-Shaarawi.

Salah tried to set up his captain more than once much to the appreciation of the visibly pleased Totti who acknowledged that his team’s new star was doing his best to help him score. Salah himself left the field in the 86th receiving an unbelievable standing ovation from both the home fans and some of the opposing ones. Yes, it did happen that a big portion from the away fans saluted their former star as he left the field which was simply the icing on the cake of an incredible night. The home fans kept singing Salah’s name for the remainder of the game as Salah made history. Salah is now the first Arab player to score 11 goals in the history of the Italian league to cement his status as an Egyptian legend already even though his career is still taking its first steps.

Spaletti could not hide his delight with Salah’s recent performances. “Salah’s a great player and if you allow him to latch onto the ball at speed and attack the space then he’s devastating. He has fantastic pace and great technical skill to boot.”

Roma and Egyptian fans will now be hoping that Salah can do more of the same against Real Madrid as Roma will try to do the impossible and overcome the 2-0 defeat at home in the first leg. Defeating Real Madrid at the Santiago with more than a two-goal difference seems somewhat out of reach but Zinedine Zidane’s team is struggling at the back at the moment and Roma’s players definitely have nothing to lose in the second leg. A goal from Salah against Real Madrid will see him follow the footsteps of Mido who scored against them during his time at Marseille.

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