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And once again: Roma versus Sampdoria versus Roma.
Roma 1 - Sampdoria 1
Roma's game stuttered after going up a man and ultimately dropped the points against ten, not when the teams were evenly matched and playing seesaw football. This movie's been done so many times it's going straight to video at this point, and even Jean Claude Van Damme thinks it's too much of a retread for a paycheck. (No he doesn't.)
Of course it's not quite as cut and dried as the last, because they - gasp - played really well, it's just that - gasp - Sampdoria did too and - gasp - Roma merely could finish their plethora of chances. (Can I get some oxygen in here?) The difference between this year and last is this time they actually had many, many chances. The gap between this performance and a vintage Spalletti v 10 is much smaller, however. So we're merely dipping into the archives.
The Zeman is happy with the performance and said they played well. I quite agree. However, a few things
- If you can't spot Mattia Destro's enormous talent, I can't help you and neither can Oliver Peoples. The boy's got it in spades and diamonds and hearts and even clubs too, and is the complete package as a striker. Except for, you know, finishing. But he's incredibly young, as evidenced by his hair, and will take time to become that finished product which appears in his destiny. The fact that he's starting for La Nazionale at this point is probably not helping public expectation, but then it's an indication of his talent.
So what I'm trying to say is Osvaldo is the better choice at prima punta right now. He's the grizzled vet who's got the things for which Destro requires time. He was not there, and I bet he slaps one of those bad boys home.
- Erik Lamela is reeking of Luis Enrique's DNA at the moment, and his game is far more suited to tiki-taka than Zemanatakanaka. Frankly, it's between he and Pjanic for the most ill-suited to this system. (Not quite curious as to why Miralem was such a stud under Luis.) He requires time. Until then, expect Destro to shift to the right when Pablo lands back in the middle after he gets his shit together.
- Whether or not Pjanic is better suited to this team or last year's is irrelevant: he's still a phenomenal footballer and a much better selection for midfield than Marquinho. This did not help against Sampdoria.
- Can we once and for all destroy the mislaid narrative that Maarten Stekelenburg is somehow a great keeper? I love him, want him in Rome for years, but he's got some flaws which prevent that label from being slapped upon his big Dutch chest. Wednesday displayed one of them.
Zeman said in his postgame presser that this didn't mean Maarten is not still his keeper. In other news, no football coach has ever lied or changed his mind before, nope.
- This can't be stressed enough:
This team is supremely young and incredibly inexperienced. It's the only thing stopping me from labeling this a Spalletti 2.0 ceiling at best and finding a bottomless bottle of 492 proof liquor to suck on like a bubba as I hop on the Tantalizing Hope/Soul-Crushing Despair Rollercoaster for the next several months. It's September, and alarmingly, there were a lot of positives in that performance.
(Did I seriously just say that?)
- A little bit of statistics. Those directly involved in Roma goals this season thus far:
Francesco - 4
Florenzi, Osvaldo, Cellino - 3
Lamela, Marquinho, Nico Lopez, DDR, Bradley - 1
More importantly, however: Alecesco Tottenzi has combined for 3 goals. Clearly something is clicking on their end.
- Words on Florenzi: [can't find 'em]
All the boxes. Ticks 'em.
- If I'm a Sampdoria fan, I'm requesting a written explanation from Ciro Ferrara - in his own blood - on how you manage to leave Totti unmarked within 30 yards of the net, much less seven from the far post, without hauling the team off the pitch in order to punish them with a Clockwork-esque viewing of Sergio Romero's hair. Just sayin'.
- Sergio Romero's hair. Jesus.
- I realize there isn't really any other option at the moment, but Leandro Castan has embossed his name in the starting XI; clearly he's up to snuff and then some. Those who called him an incredible bargain may pick up their cookies now.
- Ivan Piris can expect to get some nice pine imprint on his tookus for the next, oh, 2012-13. You just can't fight Rodrigo Taddei - he's gonna getcha one way or another.
(He's an amazing specimen of man and footballer, Rodrigo. He simply cannot not win a spot on the pitch for Roma somehow, somewhere. Herpes. He's the herpes of Roma. No matter what you do....well, there he is again.)
- Fact: Federico Balzaretti ran Simone Perrotta's Career number of miles yesterday; the man was an absolute monster.
This concerns me a great deal for Saturday, as it should you.
- Go ahead and extend this to the entire squad, actually. Lots of tired legs in that bunch, it seemed. The fact that they're playing Juventus away in under sixty hours should have you searching out that 492 proof bottle of booze.
- Oh, right: they play Juventus in Torino in some hours. In case you needed reminding.