To say the home team has held sway in these fixtures would be an understatement. Roma have not defeated Genoa at the Luigi Ferraris since 2007. Sitting in a three way tie for fifth place, Roma need to find a way to break this hex and move up the table.
If you're one of those compulsive types, compelled to bet on calcio, this is a pretty simple decision for you. Even though the last six fixtures between Roma and Genoa have produced an even 50/50 split, the home team has held serve at every turn since 2007, the last time Roma walked away from the Luigi Ferraris with three points, even that match required a 90th minute goal from Christian Panucci.
We here at CDT talk a lot about the drama that seems to surround the giallorossi at nearly every step. This week is certainly no exception, thanks to the De Rossi Dichotomy-only in Roma can the highest paid player in the league fail to crack his own starting XI, yet still manage to score two goals for the Azzurri.
Whatever this Sunday may bring, you could probably put together a pretty decent doctoral dissertation on the disparity between De Rossi's performances for club and country. His dynamic performance in this summer's European Championships has not been matched through his first three Serie A matches, culminating in his removal from the starting XI against Atalanta, which, again, prompted the requisite PSG, Manchester City and Chelsea rumors.
There is still no word on whether or not he'll make the cut on Sunday, but scoring two goals goes a long way to boosting one's street cred. At the very least he, along with Francesco Totti, are fit and ready to play. Should DDR find himself on the bench, look for Michael Bradley's bald dome to reappear alongside Alessandro Florenzi and Panagiotis Tachtsidis.
Meanwhile, the two man revolving door at center forward continues, as Mattia Destro looks to be an early scratch due to a calf strain, leaving the door open for Pablo Osvaldo to man the spot between Totti and Erik Lamela. PDO, as you might have heard, had an eventful week, getting sent off versus Denmark...so, at the very least, he's well rested.
As for the back four, Nicolas Burdisso (back) will miss the match, being replaced by Marquinhos. The young Brazilian has impressed in his limited action so far in 2012, including a full 90 against Atalanta. While he is still years away from fulfilling his full promise, he has looked quick, decisive and intuitive thus far. Besides, any production you can get from an 18 year old center back has to be considered a victory, but it's hard not to get excited at the prospect of Marquinhos patrolling the Roman backline in the not too distant future.
Beyond Marquinho The Plural, Federico Balzaretti should be manning his usual left flank, while Leandro Castan continues to be the rock in Roma's "defense". Sadly, there will be no resurrection of the Dodo (Have I beaten that pun into the ground yet?) this week, meaning Ivan Piris gets another shot at redemption. Genoa have managed 8 goals this year, good for 7th in the league, so our still developing defense will get tested.
There is a distinct Roma feel about this particular Genoa team, not simply because they employ the same high tempo 4-3-3. Former Roma roustabout Marco Borriello and youth products Andrea Bertolacci and Giammario Piscitella are now employees of the Genoa Cricket and Football Club.
Some of us wanted him to stay, some simply didn't see where he fit into the current squad, but the combination of Borriello and Osvaldo was simply too much man for one locker room. One of them had to go, sadly it was Borriello, but I like to think it was decided like this.
But if Roma were able to fend off the curse of German Denis, perhaps Marco Borriello, despite his 3 goals this campaign, won't be too much of a nuisance. More worrisome may be Ciro Immobile. Fresh off a monstrous 28 goal maelstrom through Serie B, the young Italian should be eager to prove (to Juventus, among others) that he is more than just a Serie B scorer and with 2 goals in 4 matches, he may be well on his way to reestablishing himself as a legitimate prospect.
This season has been a tough one to peg so far, early disappointments like the opening day draw with Catania and the embarrassment against Juventus were quickly countered by the 3-1 drumming of Inter and the 2-0 blanking of Atalanta, respectively. The problem being, once the wrongs were righted, the international break reared its ugly head and killed any sense of momentum. Couple that with the rash of minor injuries and the general inconsistency of some fairly important players and you get a Roma team that is struggling to maintain an identity.
So all things considered, we could be doing a lot worse than a three way tie for 5th place after the first seven weeks of the 2012-2013 season. While a win won't advance Roma just yet, it's never too early for some table watching, and with Catania taking on 4th place Inter, valuable ground can be gained.
The problem is the Marassi hasn't been the most hospitable place to play. The points won't be easy, but even at this early juncture, they are critical to Roma's European hopes.