The victory over Napoli could have a number of implications for i Lupi’s season and will likely serve as a building block for the next few games. As previously mentioned on many occasions, the Giallorossi are heavily dependent on star-man Francesco Totti’s form and he certainly underlined his importance to the club by bagging a brace on Sunday. Things are looking bleak for the Partenopei as Roma continues to surge in the Serie A table. The main concern for Coach Claudio Ranieri and the supporters will be the extent of Totti’s injury. Inconclusive reports reveal the former Italy international hyper-extended the same knee which was operated on back in 2008.
The veteran forward is expected to be out for up to 15 days, unless the test reports come out with more serious news resulting in a longer lay-off. Either way, the international break comes at the right time for the club to be able to re-group as well as give ample time for the attacker to recover. After seven rounds of Serie A games, Totti has already bagged six goals, including two from the penalty spot, to catapult him into second in the scoring charts behind red-hot Udinese striker Antonio Di Natale. His absence would leave a large hole upfront considering the fact that the only other established striker in the squad – Mirko Vučinić has yet to find the back of the net this season in Serie A. The Montenegro international striker’s last goal for Roma came against Gent in the Europa League qualifying rounds. With Brazilian Júlio Baptista more known for his power than his scoring, and down the pecking order for a first-team spot, the capital club has little cover for a long-term absence.
It must be said that Roma’s roster is not deep enough to compensate for any serious injuries to key players, and the starting line-up leaves a lot to be desired. A simple analysis of the performance of the first XI against Napoli would reaffirm that only two of those players would start in any of the other top eight clubs – namely the aforementioned Totti and the soul of the team, Daniele De Rossi. Coach Ranieri must be counting his lucky stars knowing he can rely on Totti’s scoring exploits while De Rossi represents the driving force needed to grind out results in difficult encounters. It would be shameful to diminish the influence and the role played by the Italy international midfielder, who neutralised both Luca Cigarini and Walter Gargano on Sunday afternoon.
The squad does not compare in a favourable manner with other clubs currently lying in the top eight spots in Serie A, and is actually inferior in terms of star power to Palermo and Milan, who both currently lie below the Romans. Compared to Roma’s two established star names, Milan has the likes of Andrea Pirlo, Clarence Seedorf, Alexandre Pato, Alessandro Nesta and Ronaldinho (all notwithstanding current form and age) while Palermo has invested heavily in the transfer market and was projected to be a viable threat to the top six clubs in the league. Aside from the lack of depth, the injury crisis ravishing the club, the stuttering start to the season and the change in the coaching staff – the choice to replace Luciano Spalletti must still concern the tifosi. The current Tactician once again committed an error in judgment which could have proved to be costly had the Partenopei taken advantage of the numerical advantage after Totti sustained his injury. Ranieri brought in Ricardo Faty following half-time after two enforced substitutions during the first-half due to injuries suffered by defender Marco Motta and goalkeeper Júlio Sérgio, and so all substitutions were used at the time of the injury to the No.10. On paper it might seem an appropriate change but had the final score read otherwise after the captain’s injury then Ranieri would have been facing some stick for his rash decision to substitute Alessio Cerci. It is important to pay attention to all these little mistakes made by Ranieri because they have cost his previous teams precious points and over the course of this season will unfortunately translate to a number of points lost due to inconceivable errors made by the club Coach.
On the international front, Marcello Lippi has confirmed Totti will not be returning to represent Italy during the World Cup in South Africa. This seals the icon’s glorious, albeit incomplete, international career. Totti was a major contributor to Italy’s run in Euro 2000 which was lost in a heart-breaking manner, was a controversial figure in World Cup 2002 and Euro 2004, and returned following injury to help the Azzurri lift the World Cup in Germany.
Roma Club Focus 2009/10
The senate is adjourned – August 25, 2009
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
A win that means more than three points – September 15, 2009
Ranieri chases team spirit – September 18, 2009
Champagne! – September 22, 2009
Children of Chaos – September 25, 2009
Catania is beginning to get on our nerves – September 29, 2009
Ranieri has yet to stabilise i Lupi – October 3, 2009
A solid win at a heavy price? – October 6, 2009