Club Focus – Roma – Yes we can

Alongside the match against Inter and, perhaps, the derby against the ruins of Lazio, the upcoming game against Milan is the most important confrontation left to us. Claudio Ranieri knows it, and he is accelerating work on David Pizarro to have him back this Saturday (less than his legs, it is the Chilean’s head which may legitimately be elsewhere after the apocalypse that took place in his country). The Romans know it, and the seats for the Olimpico are already almost sold out for a match which promises the greatest affluence of the season.

It never could have been predicted on the opening day of the campaign, but the task of challenging the Milanese hegemony has been left to Rome rather than Turin. The result of this match will go a long way towards determining whether Roma can aspire to anything more than a third place, and there are reasons to be optimistic. As well as Pizarro, we have Júlio Sérgio reclaiming his spot between the posts (useful for psychological more than technical reasons), and Luca Toni, back to hunt for match fitness. The ponderous striker claims that he feels very charged up, and he hopes to mark his return with a goal. Good luck to him, though once again the nature of his contribution shall not be technical, rather tactical. The new solutions opened up by the presence of a real prima punta may represent a turning point, one which would start here and go on until the summer.

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More so than the form of our own team, it is the state of our adversaries which gives room for hope. Milan have a mission impossible which would be worthy of Tom Cruise to accomplish next week against Manchester United, and their concentration will be far less unitary and determined than ours. Psychologically, the fact that they are ahead of us in terms of points shall work against rather than for them – they will be more relaxed. In brief, they are simply not at the right contingency to deal with a game against Roma at the Olimpico. To top it all, at the time when we recover our goal-scorer, they have just lost theirs – Alexandre Pato, the duck, was roasted by injury last weekend. The offence of the Rossoneri is left to Ronaldinho, who must be considerably depressed after being told that he will not be play in this World Cup (nor any other, most likely), and Marco Borriello, who did us the favour of playing on Wednesday in the hopes of not sharing in his team-mate’s destiny. There is also the dark horse of Filippo Inzaghi, who may be fielded if only to rest the others.

It remains to be seen what formation Ranieri will deploy. The three-man defence, which is rapidly gaining in popularity (Genoa, Napoli, Juventus, Roma and even the Azzurri), seems a bit of a gamble. It may prove useful in the future as a way of supporting the duo of Francesco Totti and Luca Toni, as some sources have already suggested, given the scarce mobility of the two aging forwards and the need to compensate with a deft midfield. However, that pair remains no more than a promise and using this crucial match for any purpose of practice would be unwise. The familiar 4-2-3-1 may prove more efficient, but that will remain for the Coach to judge. It does have to be said that Ronaldinho, the greatest threat in black and red, has a tendency to operate on the left, and that the possibility of doubling up the marking on him by fielding three central defenders supported by one full-back per flank is tempting. The downside is that this implies a defensive approach to a game which absolutely must be won. It will be interesting to see what Ranieri does.

We shall close by mentioning a duel which so often in the past has been at the centre of Roma-Milan games – literally. Daniele De Rossi and Andrea Pirlo are the two most prominent midfielders in their respective teams, and much depends on their performance. It is certain that De Rossi will play, but the man is tired and in no great state of form. It is fortunate for Roma that the role of playmaker should go to Pizarro, who can fill up the shoes of his team-mate and let the game run smoothly even in De Rossi’s semi-absence. For his own part, Pirlo has no substitute and is even more tired than De Rossi. Both have played for the national team on Wednesday, but Pirlo has to repeat himself on the midweek in Manchester. Coach Leonardo may choose to rest him, though what Milan can hope to do in Rome without both Pato and Pirlo is a mystery to us.

Good signs come from the heavens, then. It is no guarantee of a result, of course, and this referee will have to do better than Roberto Rosetti did in the away leg (or, for that matter, in the game Milan played against Fiorentina). But it is enough for us to keep our courage. Let’s go get that second place.

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


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

Week 28


Yes we can
– March 5, 2010

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