Roma 3 - Atalanta 0
Until the latter stages, the Coppa Italia is so very often, "Our roster is better than your roster. Nanner." There's a reason the latter stages so often feature the better teams on paper.
There is, however, a bit of a problem which once again arose from this one: Pablo Osvaldo. Yes, he scored a goal, if he got a helping hand from some woeful ‘keeping on the part of Consigli, but he also got sent off. Again. That's his fourth red card for Roma, and as you may remember, he was only signed in the summer of 2011. His demeanor - this a man who parties with Cheech and reminisces with Chong - belies his extraordinary disciplinary issues.
There's an easy in-house comparison to make here: Daniele De Rossi. The second son of Rome looks as though he may get yanked off the pitch by the Carabinieri for Homicide XXXXII at any moment, possibly biting the closest officer in the process. He's also been known for his bouts with ill-discipline and the odd flying elbow. This gives him something of a "menacing aura" - an heir [sic] of instability and potential rage.
Matches per red for Roma:
DDR - 46.5
PDO - 9.5
The second number's not a typo. Pablo played 26 matches last year for Roma - all of which were in Serie A - and now 12 in 2012/13. In both seasons, he's earned two red cards - and this one's not even until December. They're also not exactly for acceptable reasons - either dissent, elbows, or what have you. And let's not forget the straight red he earned for Italy in World Cup Qualifying. This ain't a Roma thing.
(Nico Burdisso, for that matter, averages 1 per 31 matches.)
He's easily done for the remainder of this year's Coppa run, and let's be honest: no matter how many goals he scores, being such a red card liability may mean his days in Rome are numbered too. This is an astonishing number of reds for a forward - perhaps someone whose job description includes stripping the ball from the opposition could be somewhat excused, but how often does he put his team at a disadvantage without good reason? How long will the suits accept such behavior? Especially with the child sitting behind/alongside him considered Italy's premier talent as a true striker. (Balotelli's...something else.)
He could be Lionel Messi reincarnate (age, details, etc), but if Pablo's going to be benched for 3 games every 10 or so, there are much better uses of their resources and other strikers - especially under Zeman - fully capable of hitting the net without getting sent off minutes thereafter. He ain't Jesus, no matter what happens when he lets his hair down. And even if he isn't at fault, he's now in Jeremy Menez/Simon Kjaer territory: he's got a reputation. Memories among referees seem long - damn herd of elephants, they are - and he's unlikely to get the benefit of the doubt at any point in his Roma career.
He doesn't seem capable of not shooting himself in the foot - or in this case, elbowing himself in the face - and at some point, Roma will have to cut their losses, because not every red card comes conveniently on the right end of a 3-0 lead. And considering the coach, three goal leads are slight margins, so it means even less.
This would be the portion where pots and pans are clanged and some sort of Mattia Destro chant rings out, but he hobbled off the pitch like someone went all mafia hitman on his lower leg, so playing Osvaldo may not be much of a choice, as tonight was also all sorts of red flags as to why Nico Lopez's buttocks have a permanent indentation on the Olimpico pine. (Spalletti-esque dreams of Totti, Lamela, Pjanic dancin' in my head...)
Simply put, there are easier and less painful ways to go about grabbing goals from this great big football world than eating a three-game suspension every third of the season. The gents upstairs are smart, and one has to suspect they are coming to accept this with increasing frequency. His days just might be numbered.
- Somebody else please answer the Stek or Goico thing.
- Nico Lopez: fine in space, not a damn clue what to do otherwise. His movement looked like he just stumbled out of a bar and was looking for his car in a haze of vodka and some chick's perfume. The good news is this might be a matter of growth and simple maturation. He seems a classic candidate for a loan spell in January.
- So too does Alessio Romagnoli. (Yes, he has a first name.) His performance was impressive enough to earn some playing time on a Serie B squad at least, because he's clearly the number four (selling Nico Burdisso to shed salary probably isn't wise until the summer) and playing knick-knack paddywhack on the bench with Nico Lopez every weekend isn't doing much for his development.
- Miralem Pjanic is 13 months older than both Florenzi and Destro. There is simply no excuse for selling him in the next years unless he forces a move or refuses to sign an extension (six of one...). None. He also needs to be on the pitch furthering his development from stud to superstar every single match imaginable. He, Lamela and Destro are and should be the future of Roma's attack for years to come.
- Coppa level refereeing.
- Ivan Piris.
- Considering Prandelli is all too happy to hand down second punishments and this is something of a pattern for Osvaldo, Pablo can likely kiss his Italy career goodbye for a very long time, which is good news for Destro. Also good news for defenders who value their good looks.
- There are clear indications as to why Dodo will take a backseat to Balzaretti's worn treads nearly every chance imaginable - even Zeman has some limits, and the left back constantly dribbling at the opposition's back line from the half is at least in the vicinity - but the boy's got raw skills in spades. He's incredibly fun to watch when the result is more or less in the bag*.
* - I do realize "more or less in the bag" applies very rarely under Zeman - usually double digit lead minimum. Also describes the entire fandom during the Enrique era.
- I would still love to know what Marquinho does outside of run places and occasionally shoot nowhere near the target. He's not bad by any means, just..."What the hell do you do, anyway?" He's kind of like that guy. You know who I'm talking about. That guy.
- Michael Bradley's the new Fernando Gago, with less hair and no neck tattoos. Also, he doesn't seem like he's someone you'd want to punch in the face in person. Because that's Fernando for me.
Chievo next, which is nice, as is the victory and advancement in the Coppa, but even better, the list of those who need to be on the pitch every single week continues to grow - or at least no one is being removed. The Bosnian boy wonder should be automatic from now on, as well as Erik and perhaps even Destro, who continues to progress brilliantly. The forward movement of Roma seems in capable hands for years to come so long as they spill the ink all over some long-term contracts.
Now all that's left is to get Osvaldo a therapist. Wonder what Enrique and his posse are up to these days?
Update: Found some video. Pablo's going to be suspended for an awful long time.