Another match and Roma lose once more, in the Champions League this time; this is now a run of four games (if we include the Super Cup final against Inter) without a win, yet Claudio Ranieri seemed somewhat upbeat in the post-match interview at the Allianz Arena in Munich. In all fairness, despite the doom and gloom that we are able to read elsewhere about the current state of the Giallorossi, there are signs that I Lupi may well be rising from their early season slumber. An improved performance yes, but as we will discuss later – its not all red wine and roses at the Stadio Olimpico.
Lets face facts, with the injuries to Phillipe Mexes, Rodrigo Taddei, John Arne Riise and Mirko Vucinic, things could be much worse for them, but the first half performance against the German champions was in fact very good. In front of the 60,000 plus Bavarian public, Totti and co put up a very polished resistance to Louis Van Gaal’s team, and created two gilt-edged chances that, on a different night, could have turned into goals. Goals that would have put a completely different complexion on the game, but tired legs and minds finally gave in to the second half onslaught from last year’s beaten finalists, and the loss the team’s earlier good work and somewhat tarnished the performance.
So what positives can the coach take from what the game on Wednesday, because that is what every Roma fan must be looking for right now. Well, in Aleandro Rosi Ranieri now knows that he has a young talented right back he can safely call upon all throughout the season. Quick, strong, agile and with a step over or two in his armoury – the young, ex-Siena player defended well and attacked just as effectively. At a time of full-back crisis, Rosi has slightly lifted some of the gloom in that area.
Julio Sergio had an almost perfect game (Miroslav Klose’s goal aside) and he looked back to his miraculous self, pulling off at least three superb interventions. If Roma are going to be serious about this season he will need to have confidence in his ability and the confidence of his teammates. It should not be forgotten that the Brazilian keeper has yet to play an entire campaign as the team’s the number one. The signs however are good, despite the goals conceded.
Marco Borriello offered sacrifice and commitment, albeit mainly in the more defensive areas of the pitch, but he is showing a desire to succeed at his new club. Morale is a very important and often-decisive commodity in sport; it can be the difference between winners and losers in closely matched contests, so it will be vital that this is maintained during this slump. Borriello, Marco Cassetti, Simone Perrotta and Matteo Brighi all sweated blood in Munich. The motivation has certainly not dissipated from the team even if the results, at this moment, appear to have.
Concerns lay with an out of form Daniele De Rossi and Francesco Totti, who was substituted, tactically, for the second time in succession. This is where our Club Focus believes the Roma issues currently reside. The team performances so far, despite the lack of wins, have not been truly awful. The Cagliari game was conditioned by the red card and penalty, but other than that Roma have played adequately if not spectacularly. The recent training session after the Champions League match began with a 50 minute team meeting, popularly described as ‘clear the air’ talks, which culminated in a private one-to-one dialogue between the coach and Totti. Reports suggest this was to discuss the captain’s recent substitutions. All is apparently not rosy between the two and the situation will need to be carefully monitored over the unfolding weeks. For the time being, a ‘no comment’ sign hangs over both men.
However let us not make too much drama of the situation just yet. Let us concentrate on the positives with the impending home game with Bologna to look forward too. Mexes could return, but doubts still remain over Vucinic and Taddei. The team can take some confidence from their first half performance against Bayern Munich. Ranieri has not criticised any of his team publicly, if anything he has showered them in praise when many have not. Certainly this is a delicate moment so early in the season, there has even been some talk of Leonardo replacing Ranieri (perish the thought). Tune in next week for the next exciting instalment at Camp Roma.