Club Focus – Roma – Marching upon the ashes of the fallen

E quindi uscimmo a riveder le stele, and thus we emerged to see the stars again. The words that close Dante’s Inferno also close the match against Juventus, at least from Roma’s perspective. The somber days are over, and now we are third, only two points away from second-placed Milan. It feels like sitting just below the peak of a mountain, feeling the breeze and watching the firmament. We are not quite at the top, not yet, but we are getting there.

Our site has written extensively about the game, so we shall be concise. The match was as cathartic as anything in football, and the celebrations were as wonderful as they should have been. The loss of Luca Toni in the opening minutes represented a gigantic setback from a tactical point of view, and going under by a goal seemed like its natural consequence. Fortune played its part in the comeback, but the match – as a whole – was balanced. The numbers should clear all doubts on the subject – Juventus versus Roma, Shots on goal: 5-6, Shots: 19-19, Offside calls: 6-6, Corner kicks: 6-6, Crosses: 35-44, Possession (in minutes): 25-33. Ultimately, Roma won thanks to their endless reserves of stamina and spirit, something which seems slightly surprising, given that Claudio Ranieri refused to take off any of his starting eleven (Toni aside) even when fuel was at its lowest.

As for individual performances, the title of man-of-the-match is contended on almost equal merits between three men. Juan was impenetrable, but we rediscover the New Continent, David Pizarro was impeccable, and John Arne Riise – posterior to a slightly monotone first half – was imperative to two of the three most crucial events in the Roman victory, these being the run that forced Gianluigi Buffon into self-immolation and of course the goal (the other was the penalty earned by Rodrigo Taddei). Yet again we notice how Ranieri’s game brings out the best from the most mediocre players (Taddei, Riise, Pizarro, and of course Simone Perrotta) while turning the best individuals into mediocrities. Daniele De Rossi was impalpable, Mirko Vučinić had some nice runs but made no final difference, and Francesco Totti, with all due concessions to his lack of match fitness, was not nearly as rubescent as Toni was against Genoa. How these two men will play together remains a fascinating incognito.

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The only instrument to play out of tune was, once again, Marco Cassetti. We expect this will be a point of contention with our readers, as the media seem to think that he played quite well (and no doubt his deficiencies were hard to pick out in the dust raised by the excellent overall performance). However, his game suggests that he is still not at the level to play for Roma, and the most indicative episode was his sliding tackle on Diego in the box. He was fortunate enough to scratch the ball with the tip of his foot, but an instant too late would have sent him onto the leg of his antagonist and gifted Juventus with a penalty. A less generous or attentive referee might have called that a foul regardless (as some sources in the media have done). We would be happy to overlook this episode if his contribution to the offensive phase of the game had been as scintillating as that of Riise, or if his defensive impetus had been comparable in fury and athleticism to that of Juan or Nicolás Burdisso, but he was complanate in both fields. In the space of a few more games, this man will lose us points. Fielding him means offering a weak spot – and the fact that Marco Motta, according to reports, is now trying to leave for the Premiership, is infuriating.

Totti has complained about the insults he was subject to by the Bianconeri supporters during the match. In the meantime, he matched Beppe Signori in the all-time Serie A top-scorers board by reaching 188 goals. Another three notches, and he will be sixth, just under Roberto Baggio. That is the best possible answer to any insult (and Mario Balotelli should take that lesson to heart – goals are a better response than words in a microphone). Rosella Sensi discussed Taddei, informing us that he will sign a new contract soon enough, and Alberto Aquilani, hinting that he may return to Roma sometime in the distant future. All’s well that ends well. Except that the immediate future is a more pressing concern, and neither Taddei nor Aquilani serve much to the purpose – but those shall be questions for the summer and for the coming season, not for the present. Now, our objective should be the second place. When the Champions League rounds come up, expect Milan to dilute their concentration and lose points. The same thing will happen to Inter, and the longer these teams stay in that competition, the more points they will drop. The Nerazzurri are eleven yards up. It is not as far it seems.

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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


Marching upon the ashes of the fallen
– January 26, 2009

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