Catania 1 - Roma 0: Bunch Of Hot Air

Maurizio Lagana

"Ugh."

For a bit of symmetry, it feels like the opening line should be The Bell Jar in Estonian - just to highlight how the recap was fumbled from the off much like the lineup.

A pattern has emerged: the midfield is a mess. Nearly every single variation for every single match has left a great deal to be desired over the last month, and sitting Daniele De Rossi on the bench for the entirety of a loss doesn't look particularly good on paper. No, he's hardly been the Daniele De Rossi we know under Zeman, or even the DDR Cesare Prandelli enjoys, but I have a hard time believing he can't contribute more than the other bodies, Zeman-ideal or not.

In truth, Tachtsidis looked relatively good. Both Bradley and Florenzi, however, have largely been well short of starting material for a long time. Which, once again, makes it seem as though midfield will be a priority sooner rather than later.

The surprise is Marquinho, who probably would've been kept out of the lineup in anticipation of a move to Gremio were the injuries not substantial, and only earned a start due to Totti pulling up lame. And he was, for long stretches of time (the first half at least) Roma's best player. Which begged the question, one some have been asking for a little bit now: why the hell hasn't he been playing? In the beginning of the season, he seemed like the type to thrive in Zeman's system. He's technical, he can run, and he makes excellent runs into the box, with a fantastic nose for the ball for a midfielder. Or whatever the hell he is. In the end, all this amounted to was thirty-minute cameos for much of the season and then...nothin'. So a shipping-off he was due.

But this was largely the first match where Zeman seemed to get it wrong. At this point, it should be one of Florenzi or Bradley or neither. They are, once again, playing well despite the midfield, not because of it.

The other noticeable issue of the last weeks has been the performances of Erik Lamela and Mattia Destro. The former has just been completely invisible, and one could even argue his goals have belied his overall contributions this year, while the latter plays exceptionally well...except for finishing. Which is sort of a big part of his job. His ability to find and create chances for a 21 year old is exceptional, but missing them all hasn't helped much and is highlighted by the volume. That one's no short fix either, though he'll get Fiorentina to try again.

Simply put, something needs to start clicking in the midfield - either find a working unit or begin clicking the pen to write some checks. The performances of the defense and attack during the last ten games (a solid and uber-Zeman 7-0-3) have veiled a problem area for this club.

Notes

  • Dodo, once again, looked enticing. He is going to be @#$%ing eaten alive as a leftback by decent clubs, however.

    Perhaps Zeman was onto something by tossing him at left wing.
  • In some respects, keeping the tally to one goal against a Zeman side was rather decent - it's the whole scoreless thing of concern.
  • Names missing: Totti, De Rossi, Marquinhos, Osvaldo, Pjanic.

    One could rotate in Primavera players over the course of a Serie A campaign and probably finish upper mid-table.
  • The number of misses from everyone was alarming, almost as though the entire club was lacking something in warm-ups.
  • Phenomenal finish by Gomez. Mauro neither won nor lost the job, so more to be expected on the Maarten front. Frankly, if Goicoechea starts in the Coppa, I expect photos of Maarten with his Louis V luggage at the airport by the time the half hits.
  • Would love to see a Marquinho-Taxi-DDR midfield against Fiorentina, but it's likely that Totti won't be playing, and with Osvaldo and Lamela out, that means Marquinho may need to play LW, unless Dodo is being given another run out.

    You know, this is turning into one tiny little injury crisis. They have the bodies, it's just, well, damnit they need Totti.

    I suppose it all really boils down to No Totti, No Party.
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