(Good old days)
One more match before the much needed international breather, as well as the severe downhill slope in the quality of opponent over the next few weeks for the boys in red & yellow. As we all know, the fact that Parma is still in Serie A is an Act of God - or Claudio Ranieri. But they aren't going to be nearly the pushover they were last year. Personally, I'm actually a big fan of some of their young talent, most notable Luca Cigarini (your new Andrea Pirlo) and Daniele Dessena (who will be inheriting Totti's crown as King in the Pantheon of Great Hair in the very near future). Should be another challenging game, but good lord is this welcome after the last few weeks.
Any time I think of Parma these days, I think of that ridiculous sum they paid for Hidetoshi Nakata (25m or so I think?), and I thank them kindly for their donation to the Bank of Sensi. I understand prices were inflated around the turn of the century, but dear Christ, that makes David Pizarro look like the bargain buy of the century, right up there with the Lousiana Purchase (apparently dumb decisions aren't a new thing with the French and exclusive to Raymond Domenech - look, a history lesson). As always, much love to Parma.
And of course, the other thing I think of when I think of Parma? This...
(This is me being lazy, much love to romanews)
Roma: Venti i giallorossi aggregati: ANTUNES Gabriel, BARUSSO Ahmed, BERTAGNOLI Julio Sergio, BRIGHI Matteo, CURCI Gianluca, CICINHO, DE ROSSI Daniele, ESPOSITO Mauro, FERRARI Matteo, JUAN, MANCINI Alessandro, MARANGON Alexander, MEXES Philippe, PANUCCI Christian, PERROTTA Simone, PIT Adrian, PIZARRO David, TONETTO Max, TOTTI Francesco, VUCINIC Mirko.
Parma:Portieri BUCCI, PAVARINI, PETR Difensori CASTELLINI COUTO, PACI, M. ROSSI, ZENONI Centrocampisti CIGARINI, DESSENA, GASBARRONI, MARIGA, MORRONE, PISANU, TOMBESI Attaccanti CORRADI, MATTEINI, PAPONI, REGINALDO.
Old Man River: Supposed to play, a wait and see approach.
King Alberto: So take a good look at my face
You'll see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer, it's easy to trace
The tracks of my tears
Rodrigo Aurelio: Oooooooooooooooooooooooooooout.
King Fuckhead: He's suspended one game for slapping a ball away from his face, eliciting empathy from altar boys all across the United States.
Ferrari: Was in the shop for repairs....again. If I owned a Ferrari that broke down like he did at his mileage, I'd turn it in for a Hyundai. May be available.
Andreolli: Who the hell knows. Not like it matters.
Doni: May or may not still be moving his bowels through a screen door. Should start.
Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto;
De Rossi, Pizarro;
Esposito, Perrotta, Mancini;
Cicinho will likely get a run. Espo will surely see some minutes, as will Mirko. At the moment it's a toss up as to which one will start. The best guess is Mirko, so I obviously went with Espo. I also expect Matteo Brighi to see some minutes, but I've been saying that for 6 weeks now and it never happens. So I'm just going to say it until it happens, at which point I will become the great prognosticator and you will all have to bow down before my awesome psychic skills. Just like when I said Simone Perrotta will score 10 goals this season (if he didn't start to go into a Grand mal seizure every time he got the ball in the 18 he'd have about 37 by now - it wasn't that terrible of a prediction).
Zenoni, Couto, Paci, Castellini;
Dessena, Cigarini, Morrone, Pisanu;
So it seems like Parma started out the year with a 4-3-3, then switched to a 4-4-2 for the last two games. Who knows what they'll toss out.
Roma v The Magical Forcefield Which Has Extended Itself From The Goal Out To The 6 Yard Box: I'm sorry but this finishing is atrocious. Now it's not even getting the ball on goal. Some people can't even get the ball within a quarter mile of the goal (I'm looking at you, Simone & Rodrigo). Let's hope part of it was playing in front of quality defensive lines and the boys can start to take shooting practice this weekend in front of Pavarini. Confidence will be huge going into this break, and nothing would help it more than a Catania-like assault on the bastard that is the back of the net.
Roma's Back Four v The Injury Monster: Alright, this back line is getting Calista Flockhart thin, though through no fault of their own. The injury bug has hit and hit hard, yet again, to the point where you start to wonder if there is some immune system disorder running its way through the back line (like AIDS?). All I ask is to keep them healthy enough to stay on the field so that they can all take a breather during the international break and heal their wounds (yes, I know Philou got called up to Les Bleus - but as we all know, he can show up in his bathrobe and pajamas, because he ain't playing).
2004 Espo v 2006 Espo: So far it has looked a little more like the latter, getting some good chances, but not placing them accurately on net (we're going waaaaaay back to the early friendlies here, also). If Mauro can get into a groove and start hitting the back of the net with a little regularity, those finishing issues may be long gone. He's shown his ability to create space and a strong shot, if he can add accuracy he could be one of Roma's major players down the stretch. Just keep repeating this: 16 goals in '04. 16 goals in '04. 16 goals in '04.
Parma's Young, Talented Midfield v Roma's Great Midfield: Beyond the usual suspects of King Alberto, Riccardo Montolivo and Alessandro Rosina, my favorite midfielders and midfield tandem is that of Luca Cigarini and Daniele Dessena. Especially the former, who has a long way to go in reaching Pirlo's stats, but he does remind of a younger Andrea (the same young Andrea who was allowed the cross the San Siro by Moratti - smooth move, Massimo). So we'll have a battle of playmakers in Little David and Luca, and then a battle of Danieles. Results aside, this should be fun to watch. (More fun if another certain young midfielder was involved.)
Something tells me this won't be a close game. Not 7-0, but a solid 2 or 3 goal victory, with Roma dominating the run of play and getting their fair share of chances, all while missing their fair share as well. Parma's front line can be worrisome, even if inefficient (from what I've seen), and their midfield may have some talent, but the further back one goes, the easier it gets for Roma. The Roman front line should have a field day in and around that Parma back line, now if only someone could find the damn net.
As far as Parma goes, their forwards may be a strength, but should still be mostly locked down by Philou and J-Smooth. I think this may frustrate early and - combined with Roma's quick attack - leave Parma spending much of their day behind the ball, which I think makes this a good day for Little David to get the start (see that right there? write that one down - I'd rather see LD start this one - see, I'm not illogical...all the time). With a couple wingers adept at cutting in - take your pick between Mancini, Mirko and Espo - I think LD's passes should be enough to expose a defender or two. Just as long as those defenders aren't Roman because LD is sending passes Parma's way (got it?).
Don't expect this one to be all that exciting. Should be just another solid, controlling victory from the fellas. Can't ask for much more after the last few weeks and should be a good finish heading into the break.
Goals: Totti (37), Espo (66)
Where: Stadio Ennio Tardini
When: Sunday, 15:00 CET, 9:00 US EST