Two distinct patterns have seemed to emerge over the past two months, both needing time to be nurtured, one less than the other:
i. Roma's the town bicycle when Daniele De Rossi isn't on the pitch - everybody has their fun on the cheap.
ii. Roma performs at suboptimal levels against teams with a coach who's had a first hand look-see during the fall semester.
Daniele's yet to partake in a match in which the latter was the case, thus no theory can be spewn from these fingers until such time as both scenarios can be observed simultaneously within an appropriately considered sample size, such as twelve or thirteen minutes. (Ample.)
The position in Enrique's system which calls for the centerbacks to split wide and the defensive mid to drop down when in possession requires a certain set of skills not possessed by anyone else on the squad, at least to the requisite degree. And it's also why Biscuits (see: Cousteau, Sergio) the footballer is so wildly underrated. Simply put, Daniele solidifies the midfield and defense simultaneously while sitting back in that position bestowed upon him at birth by a vacuum salesman. It helps immensely that he's only a couple of sombreros away from stealing Pjanic's role, too - a technically gifted DM/CB3 is a very rare gift and one which, for today, appears to shift the balance of Roma completely. The need for a versatile, tactically-aware star in that position is glaring with each game Luis is allowed to employ a one-sleeved monster in the spot.
It also speaks to the amount of depth Roma both has and lacks. They've got bodies, but it's going to take a couple of windows for the team to be filled two-deep with the type of players who make Luis grunt luridly in his sleep.
What this is all saying, for now, is that yes, Daniele De Rossi is Roma. Permanence: TBD.
Oh, and while we're at 'par for the course' with DDR: did anyone catch what he did in the 50th minute? It could easily have gone unnoticed amidst the scrum at speed, but with the ball well gone - at the time it could've been mistaken as a continued fight for the ball, but replays prove otherwise - a moment of battle turned into a moment of anger and he's damn lucky not to be on the wrong end of a minimum three game siesta.
And this is where we acknowledge the overall rubbishness of the referee.
- Stefano Okaka Chuka had a better game than Pablo Osvaldo. Reassess everything, man. Reassess it all.
- Fabio Borini, [gushing praise here]. He and his six-in-nine since returning from injury are teetering dangerously on the line of 'delightfully unsurprising' and 'expectation'. Which is in itself delightful.
- The Marquinho cameo was, frankly, unexpected and came at a time when Roma was perfectly happy to offer up a bit of the old possession in a bid of charity. He seems like a football player so far. Bout it, but that's something. (The '7' shirt's lost a bit of glitter though, hasn't it?)
- Home/away split - children, avert your eyes.