Club Focus – Roma – Take delight in the desperation of your enemies

The news that Francesco Totti will not play this weekend against Palermo leaves Claudio Ranieri with a striker selection headache. Whilst Mirko Vučinić is fit, Luca Toni is still injured and that means that Ranieri will either have to go with the option of a lone striker or play someone else – possibly Jérémy Ménez – out of position to make a duo up front. The worse part of the news is that there is a possibility that Totti may again need knee surgery, which would see him out for a lengthy period, and with Roma not having an abundance of striking options, this could leave the team in trouble in the long term.

Palermo are a good side and have shown on occasions this season that they are more than capable of troubling the ‘big teams’, as their 3-0 thrashing of Fiorentina and 2-0 win away to Milan show. If Roma are forced to play with five midfielders it might well be a good thing because it will allow them to dictate play and – theoretically at least – maintain possession to limit the chances their opponents get. There would also be a good case to be made for starting Matteo Brighi, because the Italian has the running in him to contain the ever-more-dangerous looking Javier Pastore, a player that, given the chance, could cause a lot of problems for the Giallorossi back line.

The problem, of course, with playing Vučinić as a lone striker is his tendency to not always react well when finding things tough. This means that it would be vital that the version of the player appears that relishes a challenge, and not the one for whom one bad first touch means five minutes of complaining. But as well as the Rosanero have been playing, they have not been impossible to score against, as Bari showed two weeks ago by putting four goals past them. This leaves the only logical conclusion to be that Roma have to go out and start positively on Saturday, putting Palermo under a lot of pressure early to ensure that their opponents do not get an easy ride and begin to be more adventurous in attack. Score early, and Palermo may crumble, start cautiously and it may be a very long afternoon.

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Elsewhere, the lengthy will-he won’t-he saga of Cicinho has finally ended with the Brazilian joining Ronaldo, Roberto Carlos, Adriano and Robinho by returning to his homeland, joining São Paulo on loan for the rest of the season. The last few months have seen a lot of complaining from the player, and most Giallorossi fans will not be too sad to see him away from the club. Having said that, he did provide some wonderful moments for la Magica, such as the excellent performance away against Milan in October 2007, where he provided a fantastic cross for Vučinić to head the winning goal, as well as tormenting the Rossoneri up and down the right side for the whole game. Unfortunately, his story seems destined to end as one of those players that seemed to have the ability, but never the temperament or consistency to make the mark that he should have in Europe.

Aside from the fine form shown by the team of late, one other thing for fans of the Giallorossi to enjoy is the current plight of rivals Lazio. Never a club too far away from controversy, the Biancocelesti have outdone themselves this week with the sacking of Davide Ballardini, hiring of Edy Reja and a riot outside the club’s training ground at Formello. President Claudio Lotito, after purporting to be a stern figure of reason upon taking over the club, seems to have risen to a Maurizio Zamparini-esque level of madness, becoming a captain Ahab riding his doomed club to relegation. If Niccolò Machiavelli were alive today, he would surely advise Roma fans to take delight not just in their good fortune, but also in the desperation of their enemies.

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, 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

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