In a week when Italian football has been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, it is welcoming to be able to get back to the bread and butter of Serie A. The cancerous growth that is football hooliganism, which authorities are constantly trying to cut out of the game, is still alive and well within the lifeblood of our game. The fans, although it is often said that these people are not real football supporters, the unfortunate truth is, they are devoted followers of their respective clubs. Convinced by flaky political ideologies, this thuggish element have no other platform to air its views. Long may the TV camera expose them for the tattooed buffoons that they truly are. We will afford them no more column inches than that.
The international break and the scenes at the Luigi Ferraris did exactly what we suggested was needed in our last Club Focus; deflect the problems Roma still face with talk of the Azzurri. However, this has become a double edged sword as the break for internationals has culminated in Daniele De Rossi and Mirko Vucinic picking up knocks that could see them miss their next impending assignment at home to Genoa. Both players did not feature in their respective country’s Tuesday game and Claudio Ranieri will be sweating on the final physio reports, as to whether he can call them into his match-day squad. The Montenegrin is almost certainly to be absent from the tie, barring a miraculous recovery.
A major blow will be dealt to Ranieri’s plans, should De Rossi also miss the match. Even though ‘Capitan Futuro’ has not been anywhere near his best this season, he is fundamental to the Giallorossi’s tactical approach to games and his absence can only be to the detriment of the team. The practiced patterns of play will have the Italian international at the heart of many of these strategies, and without him Roma will lose much of those rehearsed movements. It is a similar scenario to that of Milan losing Andrea Pirlo or Inter without their Dutch maestro, Wesley Sneijder.
The problems do not stop there though. This week, Adriano, Simone Perrotta, Jeremy Menez and David Pizarro have all missed training, along with long term absentee Julio Sergio. The roman tactician will have some big decisions to make should some or all of these be unavailable for the weekend. The only real positive note, from a personnel point of view, is that Rodrigo Taddei could finally be ready to help the cause. Frustratingly inconsistent, the Brazilian’s versatility however, has been sorely missed and Ranieri will hope that his fitness can be proved in time to tackle Gian Piero Gasperini’s men.
An interesting facet of the game will be how the ex-Fiorentina coach decides to line up his team. Genoa play a similar formation to Napoli (in as much as they usually deploy three central defenders), who comprehensively defeated I Lupi last time out. Ranieri on that occasion decided on a three man central defence himself, which spectacularly failed to live up to his and the supporters expectations. With the result being all important, it would be difficult to think that Roma will line up with anything other than their comfortable 4-2-3-1, regardless of who is fit. This is not a match that the Giallorossi can afford to experiment with new and untested tactical formations.
In amongst the football, the business of selling the club rumbles on with no clear indication as to who might be the new owners. Egyptian telecommunications magnate, Naguib Sawiris, has been the latest businessman to voice an interest. In fact, according to La Romanista, he declared that a deal with Unicredit was agreed but that at the last minute the plug was pulled for reasons unbeknown to him. Supposedly one of the richest men in the world, Sawiris, appears extremely keen to buy and certainly has the finances to restructure the club and clear all debts. Investment bank Rothschild, who has been tasked with finding an owner for Roma have announced that any bid for club needs to come in by the November 10. However, they have also stated than any important offers that come in after that date will also me considered. Only in Italy!
Although these business wranglings might not have a direct impact on the team’s performances, they certainly will not offer any extra motivation to the players. Just ask any Liverpool fan how off-field politics can detract from the important business of playing football.