Roma doesn't like Tuscany very much this season. They've traveled there twice and only taken home two points. One which was justifiable, playing in crappy weather in Firenze without Il Capitano (even though it should've been an easy 3 - ahem, Matteo & David), the other was just a meltdown. Or laziness. Complacency. Or maybe Spalletti just wants to go easy on his home province. Who knows. But now would be a wonderful time to expel those Tuscan demons as they continue their run put together by beautifully strung passes to the top of the table.
A month ago this was a quick 3 points in the basket, and Roma could've probably sat the JV in favor of the freshman team and still scored some goals, regardless of the location. Despite Roma hitting form, everything has changed in Tuscany, and that means this game has changed as well. It's no longer the easy 3 points we thought it would be.
The Commies have swapped coaches and swapped formations. After getting a whole two points in 7 games, and conceding roughly 3,000 goals, Fernando Orsi was sacked in favor of Giancarlo Camolese. They've switched to the 3-5-2 permanently, clogging the old midfield, and after losing their first two games under GC, have taken 11 points in their last 5 games while scoring 9 goals - 3 in each victory. So yeah, this has the potential to be a helluva game.
Roma, well, you know. They're looking all kinds of fantastic.
1. Inter 34pts (21)
2. Roma 31pts (13)
3. Juventus 26pts (16)
4. Udinese 25pts (2)
16. Livorno 13pts (-8)
Roma: Antunes, Barusso, Cicinho, De Rossi, Doni, Esposito, Ferrari, Giuly, Juan, Mancini, Mexes, Panucci, Pit, Pizarro, Taddei, Tonetto, Totti, Vucinic, Zotti.
The list is growing again, and it looks like Matteo Brighi and Gianluca Curci have been sat at home in front of a television. You know the usuals, Simone Perrotta, Marco Cassetti, King Alberto and Marco Andreolli. Also, we have news that Andreolli is not, in fact, dead, but that he has long-term back issues. Good, back issues. Always great for an athlete's career.
Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto;
Taddei, Giuly, Mancini;
Seriously, Cicinho has to start this game, right? I mean, he left Madrid for regular playing time. How about some playing time? Other than that you're looking at the standard, with Vuci probably coming on for Mancini at some point. (And Mancini sulking off the pitch. Hey, I'd be pretty pissed if I was subbed off every single game, too.)
Grandoni, Galante, Knezevic;
Balleri, De Vezze, Filippini, Bergvold, Pasquale;
Fabio Galante (And His Elbows) v Francesco Totti (And His Temper):
Keep your fucking elbows to yourself Galante. No red cards please, Francesco:
And as funny as it is, try not to pick fights with guys wearing the Roma badge either.
Finishing Booties v Marco Amelia: I'm still not ready to sign up for the Marco Amelia-to-Roma bandwagon yet, but he is a pretty good keeper and can make some spectacular saves, making any game difficult. Especially when you have a team of guys who rotate the responsibility of being resident sitter-misser for the day. (Vuci, I'm looking at you for Cagliari.) Put 'em where he ain't as often as possible and hope, it's that simple.
Francesco Tavano v En Fuego: I know what you're thinking, why couldn't he have done this fr the good guys? Well, it's clear he's just better off in Tuscany. Francesco, aka "The Decidedly Average Antichrist", has 5 goals in his last 5 games, including two each against Sampdoria and Parma. Keep the ball off his foot in dangerous areas and this game runs much more smoothly. Keep him from getting some momentum. He probably has as good an idea as anyone else how to expose this team after all the time he spent studying from the bench and not scoring goals last spring.
Doobie doobie doobie (you know it's in your head too)
Roma v The Tuscan Curse: This I didn't know/realize, and it is quite the stat: In Serie A Roma has conceded all of four goal away from the Olimpico this season. All four? In Tuscany. How the hell does that work out. Anyway, break the curse and this looks to be a solid win.
Since I've seen Livorno all of once this season for about 75 minutes, I figured it would be better to ask Marco from the highly enjoyable Livorno offside about his thoughts. Some may know him here as Marco420, lover of all things Roma, so you can see where he might be the person to ask. His full preview is right here, but these are his (very accurate from what I know) thoughts on how the game might play out:
Basically Livorno is a Bi-polar team. It's hard to analyze or even label these fuckers. They can play great against Reggina, Sampdoria, Udinese or Inter. Then disappear against Cagliari (if you ask me, that game was as fixed as my dog) or anybody else.
They play the usual 3-5-2 all relegation battlers seem to use. But Camolese almost always makes a 70th minute substitution to add an extra CB for, usually, one of the Filippini twins or any other tired midfielder. They usually finish the game with 4 CBs and Pasqual and Balleri working hard defensively on each flank.
They play with 3 incontristi, basically all mids on the field (taking for granted Pasquale and Balleri are defenders) channel their inner Gattusos and fight and press on every ball in the midfield. Only De Vezze and Bergvold have license to attack.
On the offense Tristan and Tavano have pretty much carte blanche to do whatever they like. The only difference is that when Bogdani's on the field, he becomes the target man and tries to hold up the ball so the rest of the squad can catch up.
45% possession is an excellent stat for Livorno, so no need to say they're a counter attacking team. They SUCK on aerial crosses and especially set pieces. They're good at clogging the midfield and great at counter attacking and countering the counter. And Amelia usually saves one sure goal a game...
As far as my thoughts go, I'm pretty confident Roma will be able to push it through the clogged midfield and show the same skillz they have the last two weeks. Roma for the win. (And if, as said,the wings aren't given license to attack, this might be a good game to throw out Espo/Cicinho - even with Rodrigo's goal scoring bonanaza.)
Score: 2-1 Roma
Goals: Totti (32), Tavano (43), Mexes (57)
Mancini "Give-A-Shit-Factor": 6
When: 1500 CET, 0900 EST
Where: Stadio Armando Picchi, Livorno
Forecast: 12°C, Heavy rain and winds. Nice.