Less than 3 hours after I posted the Genoa recap, here I am, doing the Dynamo preview. I'm flustered, I can only imagine how the fells feel after taking a nice little trip to the Eastern side. Tired? Probably. No injuries, ya hear? NO INJURIES.
* - I know I know. I got distracted in the middle. I'm like a child, I see something shiny and I drop whatever I'm doing and gravitate towards it.
Big game. Not so much for Dynamo, who are still looking to pop this year's point cherry, but for Roma, who can clinch passage onto the knockout stages with a win, Sporting loss or draw in both group games. The latter being altogether possible as they play in the cozy confines that are Old Trafford. Fair to say, things be lookin' up for the day.
(Another potentially promising aspect for the good guys is that Dynamo had to play a derby on Saturday against Arsenal Kyiv, and we all know how draining those can be.)
As you may already know, only Taddei has returned from the sick ward which is taking up most of the locker room at Trigoria. The big(ger) guns - Totti, Aquilani, Simone & Philou - are still all at home twiddling their thumbs and waiting for stem cell research to create an in-game cure for all injuries including broken bones and erectile dysfunction. Best case scenario is some, if not all, come back for the game against Udinese over the weekend. The way things have progressed, talk to me around Christmas...of 2008...we might have a better idea then. (I wouldn't care if I was going to die within 10 minutes without rapid medical intervention, I'd never let a Roma doctor touch me. I'd do it myself, whatever it is.)
So, it'd be nice to have That Totti Guy back, but honestly, who the fuck cares? We have Christian Panucci.
Domestic Last 5
Clearly the Ukrainian Premier League has a long way to go before it was be considered on par with many of Europe's big boys.
Roma: ANTUNES Gabriel, BARUSSO Ahmed, BRIGHI Matteo, CASSETTI Marco, CURCI Gianluca, CICINHO, DE ROSSI Daniele, ESPOSITO Mauro, FERRARI Matteo, GIULY Ludovic, JUAN, MANCINI Alessandro, MARANGON Alexander, PANUCCI Christian, PIT Adrian, PIZARRO David, TONETTO Max, VUCINIC Mirko, ZOTTI Carlo
Roma: Aww fuck it, you know who.
DK: Actually in kind of a similar boat, missing their best defender in Pape Diakhite, who also missed the first leg, then came back, then hurt his shoulder this weekend and had to be taken out. Tough first year in the east, huh. Oleksandr Shovkovskiy is probably out as well, and he's one of their better players despite all the goals put past him this season. Doubtful or likely out are: Andriy Nesmachniy, Serhiy Fedorov, Kleber, Rodrigo, Ayila Yussuf, and Correa (anyone who's doubtful can be shuffled over to out as the only thing DK is playing for in Europe at the moment is pride while back in the homeland they're still contending for a championship - not worth it).
Both Marco Cassetti and Mirko Vucinic are a yellow away from a suspension. Marco isn't so much a worry. But if Mirko gets a yellow and Il Capitano isn't ready to come back, manure just might hit the fan - especially if they need a result against ManYoo. KEEP YOUR SHIRT ON.
Cicinho, Juan, Ferrari, Tonetto;
Cassetti, Pizarro, Mancini;
Not the lineup I want to see, but it will likely be something similar. And OMR may sit only because I doubt Spalletti wants to risk his brittle bones and goal scoring techniques before the huge (and who saw this coming...oh yeah, me) Udinese game over the weekend in the snow. Otherwise, the only option we're looking at are Ludovic Giuly...somewhere, and that's pretty much it until the 12 second Espo cameo and Amantino's daily substitution. Do you suppose Spalletti sends him to the showers 15 minutes before everybody else in practice every day just to get him ready for gametime situations? I do.
And for comparison purposes, this is the lineup from the first leg:
Cassetti, Mexes, Juan (Ferrari 82), Tonetto;
De Rossi, Aquilani (Pizarro 83);
Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini (Giuly 62);
Most likely half that team will see the game from either the bench or hundreds of miles away. Nice. (And remember when that lineup, Roma's best XI outside of the revolving door that is RB, was the norm? Memories, they always seem so far away...)
DK: Considering the injuries, who knows, but here's your wild guess...
Markovic, Gavrancic, Vaschuk, El Kaddouri;
Husyev, Rincon, Rotan;
* - Appeared to have switched to a 4-1-3-2 under the new gaffer and likely missing both of their central defenders. Delicious.
Roma v Jupiter: Clearly the boys in red & yellow have infuriated Jupiter and incurred his wrath, as the weather in Ukraine looks to be less than ideal (if he gets really pissed, watch out for flying electricity). When I checked last week, I wrote this down just to remember when the time came to do the preview:
For anybody worried about the weather in Kiev, you can stop now. It will be raining, but 8°C (45°F). Not bikini weather, but certainly better than it could be. (Although I've always appreciated a nice tasteful lingerie spread in a snow bank.)
1. In case you're as dumb as I am, try not to check the weather a week ahead of time, unless you find a meteorologist with uncanny prognostication skills (and while you're at it why don't you go ahead and dig up the Holy Grail).
2. I'm still all for the lingerie spread in a snow bank, in case you were wondering.
3. The weather has decided to do an about face. Now, a high of -1°C (30°F) with high winds and a 60% chance of snow. Wonderful.
Good call on leaving the hospital ward back at home, and I'm silently hoping Taddei doesn't see any pitch time. The last thing this team needs is more injuries. So not only does the team need to fight their asses off through the elements for a win, but also try and stay injury free in the hopes of fielding a full 11 on Sunday and avoid sending out the Primavera.
And this is where I ask politely for ManYoo to beat Sporting and make everyone's life just a little bit easier. Thanks.
Back Line v Ismael Bangoura: Roma seems to have done well the last few weeks in closing down flighty, talented and uber-speedy wingers that can score. Let's hope the trend continues.
Creation v Dynamo's Swiss Cheese D, Missing Some Cheese: Roma didn't exactly create the plethora of chances we've become accustomed to this weekend against the Rossoblu. Could be a product of having 17 days off combined with a brand new lineup missing half the big guns. Tuesday, they'll get a second chance. Dynamo is missing their starting keeper and both starting central defenders. In their last two games, both against ManYoo, they've conceded a minuscule 8 goals, 4 each time. The other two games, once against Roma and Sporting apiece, they've given up two. That's an average of 3 goals per game, home or away. It seems someone tapped Oleh Luzhny, interim gaffer, on the shoulder and said, "Hey, the 3 back D? Not working so much. Switch it up, big fella". Which he did for the game at Old Trafford. Then conceded another 4 goals. I'm going to guess it's not the formation.
So, it's fair to say Roma should get their opportunities to create some solid chances on goal. Hopefully the Genoa game was just an assimilation period and the passing will be a little bit crisper, enabling them to sneak a little bit further into the box and get some chances to fire.
The Front Line v The Extra Pass: Bella calcio is nice, but results matter much much more, and Roma at times like to get a little bit too cute. Instead of trying to find the extra pass, start firing on net, and who knows, maybe something good will happen. Especially in the snow, when the ball will be wet and who knows what type of grip DK's keeper (whoever it is) will be able to get on the ball. Get it towards goal and let your skills and a little bit of action from Lady Luck take it the rest of the way. (At least that's my take on it.)
Butterfingers Donieber v The Elements:
The predicted weather means this game has slushy and sloppy written all over it. The Genoa game only emphasizes that. Your beautiful footy is probably going to be a little bit more difficult to come by and this means you can look forward to a lot of midfield play and shorter balls, most of which will be ground huggers if the wind does get that strong, than usual. Doesn't seem like the type of game where a lot of crosses and deep shots aiming for the upper 90, unless they're missiles (hello, DDR), will be highly effective.
So, it just might be a game for the highly skilled Romans (and this is where we exhale a collective, deep sigh with Totti, Simone and Alberto back at home getting a rub down at Trigoria). Work it towards the middle, with short, quick passes, find a little bit of space, fire and hope. At least until the 90th minute or so when Panuccigol comes to save the day.
Yes, Dynamo has nothing to lose, which can be incredibly dangerous, and a bunch of pretty good attacking options, but they just aren't that good when stacked up against Europe's big boys and they have too many players out missing from injury. They were the fourth lowest ranked team in the rankings for the group stage draw - not that it means anything, giant thumper Rosenborg was low man on the totem pole - and have struggled all year in the Champions League no matter what they do or what tactics they change. Sure, they could catch Roma sleeping, or frozen, and knock them down a few pages, but their defense has too man holes and many of their attacking talents are too young or hurt.
Roma, in the end, will have the better second string and use that skill to at the very least draw away, but probably win - weather or not. No, it probably won't be pretty, but these days all we want are the points.
Score: 2-1 Roma
Goals: Mancini (31), Rotan (51), Vucinic (54)
MOTM: Brighi (For some reason this game has him written all over it.)
When: 2045 CET, 1445EST
Where: NSC Olympiyskiy Stadium, Kyiv. (Holding a recockulous 84,000 - but it will probably feel pretty hollow as most, considering the weather and fact that DK sucks in Europe, will probably stay home.)
Forecast: high of -1°C (30°F) with high winds and a 60% chance of snow
Streaming: Here and uefa.com for a minor fee.
USTV: None, because the suits at ESPN are mindless dolts and all they show are English teams.