Is it possible for a game to be a "trap" game going in both directions? Maybe? Perhaps? It certainly feels that way.
Roma: Despite last week they're still running hot and have had an entire week to rest their weary bones. Cagliari, until just two days ago, was the worst team in the league, while most people would agree Roma has been the best over the last couple of months. The Giallorossi walked through the Rossoblu in December like it was a scrimmage in practice. And, let's face it, more people (not the team) will be focused on Inter than Cagliari this weekend. The players will hunker down, but they're expected to win this game, which can be hugely dangerous for this team.
Cagliari: They're running hot also, and just got that huge boost by the return of their three points. They have a lot more to play for now, namely a serious shot at safety. Of their 7 wins, 6 have come on the island. They only have a -1 goal differential at home and have taken points more often then not (6-3-6). More so they've only dropped two points from their last six home games, which is a damn good run (Of course the opponents were less than impressive: Atalanta, Lazio, Napoli, Genoa, Torino and Parma). But they've also got that whole "underdog" thing going right now. You know, when too many people start jumping on the bandwagon for a game, and they go from massive underdog to, "shit, they might win this". Everyone starts believing they can win, and then they start believing they can win, and then they deviate from the normal "minimize disaster" gameplan and end up getting blown out of the water, and everyone goes back to thinking they suck. Same goes for this game, while Roma is without DDR, Perrotta and Vucinic and the win isn't such a foregone conclusion anymore.
I think I just confused myself regarding who's going to win this game.
As for the game, good news has already arrived: Francesco will make the trip. Now let's hope it's either for 90 minutes or Roma scores a quick baker's dozen in the first 20 minutes and they can play iTunes as the lone man up top for the rest of the game.
And when it comes to Cagliari, there's only one game which has entered my mind recently: Rodrigo Taddei. That bike last December, and then the two goals this December.....dude must be salivating to get back to kicking some Sardinian ass.
1. Inter 68 (35)
2. Roma 64 (26)
Portieri: Capecchi e Storari
Difensori: Agostini, Canini, Del Grosso, Ferri, Lopez, Magliocchetti, Pisano
Centrocampisti: Biondini, Cossu, Cotza, Fini, Foggia, Mancosu, Parola
Attaccanti: Acquafresca, Jeda, Larrivey, Matri
Juan is out, again, with that foot injury. And then the suspendeds.
The only person missing for Cagliari that really matters is old boy Daniele Conti.
I'm changing the name because I suck at this.
Cassetti, Panucci, Mexes, Tonetto;
Taddei, Brighi, Amantino;
Perhaps Cicinho at RB or Ferrari in the center. I'd be mighty surprised to see Giuly get the start in Simone's place, but just by saying that Spal will surely start him.
Pisano, Lopez, Canini, Agostini;
Biondini, D'Agostino, Del Grosso;
A Conti-less Midfield v A DDR-less Midfield: It seems like the legend has played in every game for the Giallorossi since the beginning of time, and it's close - just missing the games against Empoli and Parma. On this occasion Roma is also missing the machine that is Simone Perrotta. Something about the midfield including Aquilani, Brighi and Pizarro doesn't sit right with me. Could be that it DP is there and DDR will be on the sidelines, unavailable to clean up the mess.
Depth v Roma: So who would like to take bets on who plays striker in the event that Totti goes down? We've seen Ludovicious play up top briefly, and Espo can fill in there - Taddei also. None are even close to ideal, though. Especially if Roma requires a goal or five. I'm sure Spal already has a Plan E in mind, but I don't. Woof.
And on the same note - will we actually see Amantino play a full 90? Or will Ludovicious come in and spoil his day?
Bobby Freshwater v Spalletti: Their run has been, in large part, due to him more than anything else. He has five of Cagliari's eight goals this month, and had another one called back last weekend (with a missed pk just for shits & giggles). Kid's a finisher, and can create goals from seemingly harmless situations. With De Rossi out, Spalletti is going to have to figure out a way to limit his touches and close down on him as soon as he gets the ball. An inch of space can be deadly for him - the half-Nerazzurri bastard.
ManYoo v Cagliari: Here's where I actually think the absence of DDR and Simone, combined with Totti at less than 100%, could be a boon. When you're a player and looking around and see world champions, that tends to make things a little less dire. However, they don't have the luxury of hanging their coats on DDR's rack and letting him completely own the midfield throughout the entire game while they do their thing. Or getting their pantyhose in a tangle and sending a pass halfway to the intended target, forcing Simone to get on his scooter and save the day from 50m away. Everybody really has to get on the grind and focus on Cagliari and Cagliari only. Might actually work in their favor.
Amantino v Amantino: He just really needs to give a shit on Saturday, that about sums it up.
Jeremy's Cagliari preview here.
Roma simply has too much, and I firmly believe no one is looking past this game onto Chanmester. Rodrigo Taddei owns Cagliari and I think it's about time King Alberto pounds in one of those howitzers from deep. Roma for a comfortable win.
Goals: Taddei (21), Aquilani (53)
Mancini Give-A-Shit Factor: 7.8
When: 1900 CET, 1300 EST
Where: Sant'Elia Cagliari
Forecast: 15°C, partly cloudy.