On Saturday, Roma found the unlikeliest of heroes in the figure of the ex-Rimini player, Matteo Brighi.
Starting for the first time this year he scored two goals to lead la Magica to victory. Continually linked with a move away from Roma, Brighi has been a consummate professional, not complaining about his lack of opportunities, and, when one came along, giving his all and producing quality performances.
In fact, there was not a player in Giallorossi colours on Saturday that did not put in, at the very least, a performance that was full of effort. Even Mirko Vucinic, whose occasional lethargy has been well documented, looked willing to run for the team although his final pass and finishing was not up to his usual standard. Francesco Totti looked a completely different player to the one that played a tired first half against Fiorentina, and although he was again substituted at the halfway point, the activity and endeavour in his performance will warm the hearts of Roma fans everywhere.
Now only 7 points down on Inter, there seems to be belief building – and not just from Daniele De Rossi this time – that Roma can challenge for lo Scudetto. Look at it this way, this weekend Roma have Catania at the Olimpico, while Inter host Sampdoria. But Inter have their Champions League first-leg game next Wednesday and Roma have their Europa League tie on Thursday. So Roma can go into their next game with their eyes fixed firmly on the side from Sicily, and Inter may well be tempted to rest players for the Chelsea tie.
There is every opportunity that the Giallorossi could pick up more points, possibly cutting the gap to four points should results go their way. They also have yet to play Inter at home, knowing that they very nearly beat la Beneamata, and if not for the injury to De Rossi they may well have. A tie against Inter should hold no fear for Claudio Ranieri’s side.
Even with the endorsement of Luigi Di Biagio, the chances of a title challenge are pretty slim – relying on Roma being able to keep up their excellent form and Inter to slip up. But think about where Roma were at this point last season and there is a lot to be positive about – and this turn around has happened without the much financial backing. Rosella Sensi – while her love for the club is hard to doubt – says that she is very happy with recent events and so she should be, a club that goes from finishing fifth in the league to challenging for the title with barely any financial investment is an owner’s dream.
Recent form means that la Magica have to be thinking that winning Europa League is achievable, and so this week’s tie against Panathainaikos needs to be taken seriously. At the very least, progression in the competition would mean more money coming into the club, which is something that Roma need. Come the end of the season all their rivals will be strengthening squads, and to maintain their advantage Roma have to as well.
With all due respect to the Greek side, Ranieri should be expecting his team to win this game. Keep it tight away from home and then attack them back at the Olimpico and that should be a formula that sees Roma progress and set up a tie with either Standard Liege or Red Bull Salzburg.
Maybe it is premature, or maybe it is finally time that Roma fans can begin to dream. Dream of the heady heights of the 2000/01 season and dream that one season soon lo Scudetto may finally come back to the red and yellow half of the eternal city.
Roma Club Focus 2009/10
The senate is adjourned – August 25, 2009
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
A win that means more than three points – September 15, 2009
Ranieri chases team spirit – September 18, 2009
Champagne! – September 22, 2009
Children of Chaos – September 25, 2009
Catania is beginning to get on our nerves – September 29, 2009
Ranieri has yet to stabilise i Lupi – October 3, 2009
A solid win at a heavy price? – October 6, 2009
Rumours as IFFHS ranks the Giallorossi as best in Italy – October 9, 2009
The strange attractor of two inherently chaotic teams – October 16, 2009
The sound and the fury – October 20, 2009
The importance of being Francesco – October 23, 2009
A shot in the foot – October 27, 2009
Waiting for Godot (and the rest of our men) – October 30, 2009
Win as a team, die as individuals – November 3, 2009
Into the nest of snakes – November 6, 2009
A promise of spring – November 10, 2009
International week (Italy-Holland, Italy-Sweden)
Purgatory is not enough – November 20, 2009
The first leaves shiver – November 24, 2009
The ghost of a future derby – November 27, 2009
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
Black Wolves rising – December 11, 2009
The Imbecile – December 15, 2009
Pass the Parmesan, please – December 18, 2009
The defence does everything, where is the rest? – December 22, 2009
The man to give (us) a shove – December 29, 2009
It’s quiet…too quiet – January 5, 2010
No offence intended – January 8, 2010
All I know is a door into the dark – January 12, 2010
The halfway buoy – January 15, 2010
Standing ovation. Seriously – January 19, 2010
A song of ice and fire – January 22, 2010
Marching upon the ashes of the fallen – January 26, 2010
The unfortunate tale of Stefano Okaka – February 2, 2010
The De Rossi effect – February 5, 2010
Sometimes you need a bit of luck – February 9, 2010
Take delight in the desperation of your enemies – February 12, 2010
With Palermo slain do Roma dare to dream? – February 16, 2010