ROME, ITALY - NOVEMBER 26: Simone Pepe (R) with his teammate Mirko Vucinic of Juventus FC celebrates after scoring the opening goal during the Serie A match between SS Lazio and Juventus FC at Stadio Olimpico on November 26, 2011 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images)
The Marco Borriello Sweepstakes
Juventus v Roma
The saying "playing with house money" is trite, cliched and in the case of calcio, hits a little too close to home...
Roma's playing with house money this weekend. Again.
(Zip it. If it fits, it fits.)
Should they be expected to win? Nyet. Might they win? Absolutely. Given Juventus' ability to attack when the defense lacks structure, would everyone be best served spending Sunday evening amidst recreational activities of less cardiac impact? Mmhmm. (Then again, it's sort of standard that one beware of their own cardiovascular health when assuming the asinine position of Roma fan.)
Much as with the Milan fixture a couple of weeks back, there is a clear difference in quality heading into the match and expectations are reflective of such. Plus, after years of watching Mirko Vucinic shred Lecce to bits n'kibbles like a starving she-wolf in a butcher's shop, it would behoove Roma to show up in the strip of Cesena, or something, so that he goes into his often duplicated, never appreciated nap time mode* - only in the end, he became far less predictable. And it would behoove Juventus to wear anything but those hot pink things which result in burn-in on my retinas, which, let's be honest, was undoubtedly part of Nike's maniacal plan.
* - Upon reflection in hindsight, did anyone expect Mirko to do anything but flop to expectations for a team which would spend much of the year at the top of the table and remain undefeated ? Clearly they've got some quality and thus aren't quite so reliant upon him, such as the case with Roma when he nearly single-handedly shepherded this team to the most improbable scudetto in recent times. There just aren't enough games where he could be considered important individually and on the whole. (In the hole? Chelsea, anyone?) Conversely, had they shuffled him off to Mediocrity FC, he'd be lapping Messi in the Ballon d'Or voting.
Juventus, you may know, has the best defense on the peninsula, and by some statistical margin, enabling them to remain undefeated thus far. Roma's struggled away from home. This is, at the most topical level, bad jujus. Simply put: this is set up to be a loss should the law of averages hold.
But then Roma has identity issues of late, in that it has no idea which version of itself is going to show up from game to game. They had similar issues in the past, but far more predictably, the world knowing they'd turn up for the big ones while mailing in the supposed gimmes, having difficulty with the concept of all points ultimately being created equal. Even earlier this season was a question of patterns. Now? They could be thwacked by Lecce or play to par with the league leaders. No one knows.
In the last weeks, it's almost as though Roma has assumed Mirko's very identity: attacking-oriented, technically proficient, immensely promising, aesthetically fluid, tactically challenged, and often, to its own detriment, completely indifferent.
There are less exciting things to become in this world.
DE ROSSI Daniele
OSVALDO Pablo Daniel
VALDES J. Angel
Rosi, Kjaer, DDR, Taddei
Pjanic, Gago, Marquinho
Totti, Osvaldo, Bojan
Borini has made the trip, but it appears as though a starting spot might be asking a bit much. In that event, Bojan would seem the more likely if LuRique - an excellent name were Luis to start dressing in drag - doesn't opt to add more bulk to the midfield and push Pjanic higher instead.