Club Focus – Roma – Late draw closes curtain on nothing

Three for my heartache, five for my lonely, and two for my family. Anyone who expected Claudio Ranieri to go into this match with a 3-5-2, raise your hands. Inevitably, the heterodox formation has become the fulcrum of discussion after the game. It would have gone the same way even if the result had not been so exasperating, albeit fair in terms of athletic effort. For our own part, there are at least two reasons why we should applaud Ranieri’s unexpected choice wholeheartedly. To begin with, it made sense in the context of the game. The offence and midfield lacked some of their key men, while the defence enjoyed an overabundance of qualified members and a keeper who lacked confidence. Building a wall of marksmen right in front of him was reasonable, especially when the opposition included the likes of Fabio Quagliarella and Ezequiel Lavezzi (lethal and unpredictable both). Secondly, it displays real adaptability and a willingness to think creatively. It will imply some slip-ups, but it also means that the team will learn how to pick itself up very quickly.

One cause you left me, seven for no tomorrow. Our dear No.17, John Arne Riise, the most recent of the many heroes elevated to the Roman pantheon, needs to be discussed. We have no intention of belittling him, especially not after his magnificent exploits in the last few months, but everyone is so busy calling for Philippe Mexès to be sent to the guillotine (the man was guilty of inattention on Germán Denis on both goals, it is true) that we should repartition the blames. The 3-5-2 is meant to work because, by offering such coverage at the rear, it unshackles the two fullbacks and lets them connect with the forwards and the midfield at will. It worked on the right, where Marco Motta worked with Rodrigo Taddei to produce most of our vertical slant. It proved unsuccessful on the left, mainly because Riise was too tired – the man has really played too much – and Júlio Baptista and Mirko Vučinić got no service from him. Even as the team successfully went up by two goals before the formation reverted to a standard 4-5-1, the sloth on the left was proving highly detrimental to the overall execution. It was also part of the reason why Napoli was later allowed to offend so consistently, troubling Mexès.

Ranieri’s strategy was sound. It was working at only half the regime because one of the pieces in his machinery was too tired to execute. This raises some important questions regarding the mercato. Most speak of Adriano, who reportedly wants to come back to Italy and would not mind joining the wolves. But as we have been saying for a while, there are more immediate priorities than a prima punta. Namely, we need efficient substitutes for our left-back, Riise, and our most creative midfielder, David Pizarro. When Roma took the field against Panathinaikos last Thursday, it was Marco Cassetti who played as right-back (with mixed results, yes – his performance was not great, but he was not responsible for the defeat either). As a consequence, when Motta walked onto the field this Sunday, he was fresh like a rose. And gentlemen, it showed, as he ran up and down that right flank like an antelope – our rating, nine. Nine for a lost God. If there had also been someone to send out on Thursday instead of Riise, the kraken may have reached the Napoli game on full steam. Not to mention the need for a substitute – even a surrogate – for Pizarro. So forget Adriano for this summer, or for as long as it takes until our team has a bench that is (almost) as good as our infantry. Realism is the name of the game. We need depth to grow, not stardust.


Four for my headaches, eight, I forget what eight was for. Sum them both to 50 and you get the points of Milan and Inter. We are still at one cause you left me (you there, Júlio Sérgio). For now, we are still racing for first – especially if the two teams from up North progress any further in the Champions League. In fact, it is a blessing beyond measure that we should face Milan next Saturday, just a few days before their crusade against the Red Devils. There is a reason if the only time in the season that Inter drew three in a row came just before their clash with Chelsea. Our adversaries lose or need to save men from injury every week (Alexandre Pato), we gain them back (Luca Toni). Besides, the second half of our season is so much smoother than theirs. Even if Inter only progress one team beyond Chelsea and Milan crash out in Manchester, it would still take ever so little for us to climb in reach. 10 for everything, everything, everything. Give us back our No.10, our bimbo de oro, and we can do anything. In time for this Saturday, if you please. Then we will see what’s good.

This closes our enumeration, indicating the number of pills that Romanisti have been taking after the match against Napoli. One can only resort to medical care, at times. When the adversary team is under by two goals at the 75th minute and they manage to pull back with a penalty at the 89th, taking away from you the five-point peak from the Scudetto (a mere two matches) which you had worked so hard to escalate, you cannot blame it on any individual. It was fate, as Flaubert liked to say. What more? We have only one number left, and a rating for the match to assign. Make it six. Six for my sorrow.

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

– 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

Week 26

Just five points to the top
– February 24, 2010

Good bye Europe and other musings
– February 24, 2010

Week 27

Late draw closes curtains on nothing
– March 1, 2010 Welcome Bonus Offer Betway

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