Club Focus – Roma – A Greek tragedy? This should have a happy ending

The trouble with being a Roma fan is that when things are going well, you spend your whole time on edge, just waiting for something to happen to ruin the tranquillity. As if to prove this point, Roma’s tie with Panathinaikos showed exactly why Giallorossi fans never feel comfortable.

It was not the worst performance ever, and a 3-2 defeat in Athens is not a disaster by any means, but the fact that la Magica were 2-1 up with only six minutes of the 90 remaining and somehow contrived to lose the tie brings back the worry that the team may have the talent but not the mentality to win the Europa League. The first half (putting aside nearly conceding in the first two minutes) was a reasonable performance, and after Mirko Vučinić’s lovely goal put Roma in front, it looked as though all the Giallorossi had to do was soak up the pressure from Panathanaikos and try to grab another on the break.

Unfortunately, after half time Roma came out looking off the pace and it seemed like only a matter of time before the Greek side grabbed an equaliser – which they did. David Pizarro’s penalty brought back hope but the capitulation in the final 5 minutes was a terrible blow. Despite this, Roma should be expected to progress because the second leg is at the Olimpico, and despite the comparatively poor performance, enough chances were created that, on another night, maybe the game would have ended in victory. The main concern is that should Claudio Ranieri’s team progress in the competition then tougher opposition – that they would surely face at some stage – would punish performances like the one last night much more heavily. Coming back from a goal deficit against Panathinaikos is one thing, but against Liverpool, Valencia, or Marseille they might be all but out by now.

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Struggling away in Europe is a theme that was present when Luciano Spalletti was Coach and it seems to be continuing under the stewardship of Ranieri. This is not a suggestion that either coach is to blame, but Ranieri’s style and approach – which is much more about keeping compact and counterattacking away from home – better equips the team than Spalletti’s which was fantastic to watch but altogether too open (there is not one Roma fan that will even forget the 7-1 reverse away to Manchester United). Granted, not all away games have been that way, and the victory away to Real Madrid was a particular highlight, but, in general, la Magica have rarely looked like the team we know and love when travelling the continent.

One important element that, when he returns, will help the team in these away games, is Francesco Totti. Aside from all his other qualities, il Capitano is brilliant at holding up the ball and drawing fouls when the team is ahead, which takes pressure off the defence and helps to break up the flow of the play and disrupt the opposition. Luca Toni can also work as a target man, and the news that he has returned to training with the first-team is a bonus because of the alternative options that a player of his type presents. There is no easy fix for Ranieri to make Roma win away, but considering the strides that the team have already made this season it is only fair to trust in the manager to come up with a solution.

This weekend’s game against Catania offers an immediate chance to get back on track, and put any thoughts about Thursday’s performance firmly in the past. As interesting as the distraction of the Europa League is, getting a Champions League spot is the most important goal for the Giallorossi this season, and wins in home games against the likes of Catania are vital to achieve this goal.

Roma Club Focus 2009/10

Week 1


The senate is adjourned
– August 25, 2009

Week 2


Houston, we have a problem
– August 28, 2009


The time of Penelope
– September 1, 2009


Good move, bad timing
– September 4, 2009

International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)


Break means homework time for Ranieri
– September 7, 2009

Week 3


A win that means more than three points
– September 15, 2009

Week 4


Ranieri chases team spirit
– September 18, 2009


Champagne!
– September 22, 2009

Week 5


Children of Chaos
– September 25, 2009

Week 6


Catania is beginning to get on our nerves
– September 29, 2009


Ranieri has yet to stabilise i Lupi
– October 3, 2009

Week 7


A solid win at a heavy price?
– October 6, 2009


Rumours as IFFHS ranks the Giallorossi as best in Italy
– October 9, 2009

Week 8


The strange attractor of two inherently chaotic teams
– October 16, 2009


The sound and the fury
– October 20, 2009

Week 9


The importance of being Francesco
– October 23, 2009


A shot in the foot
– October 27, 2009

Week 10


Waiting for Godot (and the rest of our men)
– October 30, 2009

Week 11


Win as a team, die as individuals
– November 3, 2009

Week 12


Into the nest of snakes
– November 6, 2009


A promise of spring
– November 10, 2009

International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)

Week 13


Purgatory is not enough
– November 20, 2009


The first leaves shiver
– November 24, 2009

Week 14


The ghost of a future derby
– November 27, 2009

Week 15


The front needs work but the back looks good
– December 1, 2009


The only game in town
– December 4, 2009


We need an alternative, fast
– December 8, 2009

Week 16


Black Wolves rising
– December 11, 2009


The Imbecile
– December 15, 2009

Week 17


Pass the Parmesan, please
– December 18, 2009


The defence does everything, where is the rest?
– December 22, 2009

Winter break


The man to give (us) a shove
– December 29, 2009


It’s quiet…too quiet
– January 5, 2010

Week 18


No offence intended
– January 8, 2010


All I know is a door into the dark
– January 12, 2010

Week 19


The halfway buoy
– January 15, 2010

Week 20


Standing ovation. Seriously
– January 19, 2010

Week 21


A song of ice and fire
– January 22, 2010


Marching upon the ashes of the fallen
– January 26, 2010

Week 22


The unfortunate tale of Stefano Okaka
– February 2, 2010

Week 23


The De Rossi effect
– February 5, 2010


Sometimes you need a bit of luck
– February 9, 2010

Week 24


Take delight in the desperation of your enemies
– February 12, 2010


With Palermo slain do Roma dare to dream?
– February 16, 2010

Week 25


A Greek tragedy? This should have a happy ending
– February 19, 2010

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