Atalanta found themselves battling under controversial circumstances during their visit to Roma, a match that was marred by questionable refereeing decisions and commedia dell’arte-like behaviour.
Traditionally, trips to Roma have always been challenging for Atalanta. The games are typically heated, and Atalanta’s team must exhibit tenacity over skilful play. This time, however, was an even more poignant affair. Ignoring Atalanta’s own mistakes and lagging performance in the second half, last night’s match felt more like a wrestling contest directed by Edoardo Bennato.
Roma played an aggressive game, committing foul after foul against Atalanta players. Despite this, the refereeing innovations, from on-field referee Aureliano to the VAR officials, seemed partial towards Roma, handing Atalanta players six yellow cards while only one was given to a Roma player. This precarious officiating was seen as an endorsement of Roma manager Jose Mourinho’s theatrical demeanour, who chose not to speak out at the end of the match. A role, some could argue, that should fittingly have been played by Atalanta’s manager, Gian Piero Gasperini, given the course of the game.
The match ordeal could be summarised in two pivotal incidents: an unpunished foul by the former player Mancini on De Ketelaere, and a yellow card given to Zappacosta despite him clearly playing the ball. In between these, there was a notable penalty incident where Ruggeri explicitly handled the ball against Karsdorp. Furthermore, a goal scored by Scamacca was disallowed, stirring even more doubts.
Roma’s conduct might have been controversial, yet more significant was what the officials permitted to occur, undoubtedly influencing the match, despite the eventual draw being seen as a fair result. Atalanta, while battered by numerous fouls, managed to escape from the clutches of those who seemed more bent on theatre than fair play.