Club Focus – Roma – A song of ice and fire

Step back to the last time Roma and Juventus met and tell me that the situation has not been completely reversed. On the second giornata of the Campionato, Juventus had recently completed a remarkable transfer campaign and looked set to storm the top of the table. Roma had few new transfers to boast and had just lost (badly) to Genoa. The Coach of Juventus seemed respected and competent, while that of Roma was about to leave the club. Juventus were fit and in form, Roma were in the middle of yet another injury crisis. Finally, and no less importantly, Juventus had the most points out of the two teams.

We have come so far since then. Today the frost bites the pillars of the Stadio Delle Alpi and it bites the hearts of the Juventini with correspondent ferocity. Turin, only a few miles South of Milan, where these lines are being written (and where the heat of the upcoming derby is inversely proportional to the polar temperatures in the streets of the Navigli), is reportedly undergoing a new ice age. Care should be taken that it does not extend its harm. Frost, as we all know, bites both ways.

Juventus have been receiving more slaps on the face than a pizza in the making, but they have a suspicious knack for picking up points against the most unexpected of teams. Inter can testify to this, and so can Napoli, after the rotund 3-0 they were inflicted at the Stadio San Paolo. It’s not too far off to posit that the Bianconeri could repeat themselves against Roma. And history is hardly in their favour – the last time the team from the capital defeated their black and white rivals in any competition (friendlies included) dates to times before Calciopoli. Nonetheless the numbers lend space for some optimism, for the longer a streak has gone on, the likelier it is to end.

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This match signals, or should signal, the return to the fields of Francesco Totti. While this is no less welcome than Christmas to us, we would rather he came on in the second-half. There are a number of reasons for this. The first is that of preserving his health, allowing for a gradual return to match-fitness rather than a sudden leap through the fire-rings. The second reason is tactical. While the Totti-Toni duo has a lot of potential, it may not be the most judicious of choices against Juventus. To the extent that there is anything which can be said not to work against the Bianconeri these days, speed has appeared more effective than technique against their old, experienced backline. Totti and Toni are both running on flat tyres. One of them is good, but both together could be risky. It might be better to see Mirko Vučinić (in good form) or even Jérémy Ménez starting against Fabio Cannavaro and his gang.

Questions of formation also gain prominence if the two princely prima puntas start together – they obviously need support from the wings – but these fade before the sheer epic value of a match against Juventus, even when this is overshadowed by the derby in Milan. They say revenge is a dish best served cold. Then get ready for a very cold season. And if ever there was a better time to gut ourselves on zebras, then this writer is not old enough to remember.

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, 2009


All I know is a door into the dark
– January 12, 2009

Week 19


The halfway buoy
– January 15, 2009

Week 20


Standing ovation. Seriously
– January 19, 2009

Week 21


A song of ice and fire
– January 22, 2009

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