This was anything but a derby. Except for the red card. And the passion. And the crowd. And the stadium. And the stabbings. So perhaps it kind of looked like a derby, but it wasn't in that it actually played out tactically, which rarely happens during matches which determined how big a Lamborghini one needs to purchase after the match to soothe the old ego. Of course this means the match centers upon one Roman, and we all know who that is:
Daniele De Rossi. (Probably weren't expecting that.)
Now, Daniele had a poor game, that much is obvious. But the problem isn't so much his poor game as to why he was allowed to have it. Truth told, Roma played pretty well in the opening minutes of the match, and it became readily evident that though the lineup appeared a 4-3-1-2 on paper, Daniele was being pushed back into his old DM/CB3 role in the - recently, anyway - more familiar general structure of the 3-4-1-2. Something of a liberista, if you will. He was dictating the game in those opening minutes, gathering the ball and hoisting it aloft as he's wont to do, and though he was more prone to the long ball one would've liked, it became fairly obvious shortly into the game that perhaps this was partially by design - Lazio's attackers were steamrolling Roma on the back end and through the midfield, so it was more advised to lose the ball further up the pitch in a match where technicality often makes way for tenacity. It's not perfect, but then one doesn't scheme a derby like it's a science experiment; it gets blueprinted as though it's war.
Then, in the twelfth minute (or thereabouts), Daniele was knocked. Only he wasn't knocked - he was hurt. Visibly hurt. For the entirety of his time on the pitch. In the minutes after the injury, he couldn't even push a pass with his right, and though he was able to function, he wasn't a viable option.to be standing as one of eleven in the face of a ninety-minute derby. His play this year hasn't been good, but this was different. Noticeably different.
The entire team suffered as a result, playing below full strength for nearly forty minutes, and their output during the latter portions of the first half was dire. The need for him to be removed was apparent to all in witness. So why wasn't he taken off? It's not as though there weren't options on the bench. Hell, Simone Perrotta's been a solid player for the last months; there's no reason to think he couldn't push Michael Bradley central, where he was far more effective, and slot into the midfield nicely. (Actually, it's fairly obvious that Totti and Pjanic should be far apart and Miralem should be in a spot where he is the intellectual engine of the club, rather than the one making the runs, so dropping Pjanic into the midfield, as he was during the second half, and bringing on someone else for the top three positions, be it Mattia Destro or Perrotta or another, would've seemed to be the better choice.) There is quality, much of it gone missing from DDR's quiver this season anywho, but a capable body is more effective than talent at 60%.
The game clearly turned for Roma when Biava was sent off. Yet perhaps it didn't need to be anything but Roma's throughout.
The headline was a joke, but I'm really not so sure.
Pablo Osvaldo wasn't at the match. It's one thing to stay home for a weekly turn against Atalanta. It's another thing to travel to @#$%ing London for the derby.
His tenure in Rome is over.
- This may mean Mattia Destro will get every single minute available to him until he proves he shouldn't, which isn't such a bad thing. His talent is outlandish, even in the little things.
- Daniele does have a right ankle injury. This means he may or may not be available for Torino on the weekend. Is this a big deal? Nope.
The mighty, etc.
- The Dodo sub was baffling. The wings were getting torched, yes, but Lazio was now down to ten men and they were hardly doing much damage out wide on the attack, rather filling the holes where they were being offered when in possession. And when down a man, you're not going to stretch the defense too much with width, and pace is really the only thing Dodo currently offers. So why bring him on at the expense of someone who can work more readily in tight spaces? Lazio is not tracking a Brazilian preteen on the flank when down to ten. Numbers in the middle, solid defensively. Unless Aurelio sees something in Dodo's ability to cut to goal, there were a number of better options. Like leaving Florenzi on the pitch. Aurelio's subs have been fairly basic, straightforward, logical. This one made little sense, particularly in a match of the stature of the derby and Dodo being, well, as much a known quantity these days as the dodo itself.
- Pjanic is so incredibly crucial to this club in large part because they are lacking any degree of technicality in the midfield aside from Daniele, and he's gotten lost in his own beard or something. The midfield and now the flanks have some engines, but this ain't Barcelona. They're all capable, but nowhere near above average in passing or dictating the play of those around them with subtle movements or the like. Simply put, he's better in midfield right now and it showed once again.
Stefan Radu's emotional fragility is pretty comical. Every time he's picking a fight or rolling around on the ground, all I can see is the same cat who was begging to come to Roma, his favorite club, and famously wore a Roma jacket to training every single day back in Romania.
Dude. Get over it.
- I forget who took the shot (was it Lulic who took Torosidis all the way across the pitch?), but the save where Maarten had to stop the ball from going near post was criminally underrated. Maarten has a lot of attributes as a goalie, but he is not a feline and he is a big man. A lot of similar sized keepers see that one ending the match. That was arguably as crucial as the missed penalty.
- Speaking of, I'm okay with Lazio netting a penalty in the minutes after the half with a 1-0 lead from now on. Hell, maybe they can whip up an agreement where they're spotted the 1-0 lead and a penalty and the match begins from there in the 50th minute.
- The pesky little bit about the Coppa Italia aside, Roma now has Torino, Pescara and Siena. Not only could it be worse, but it could've all been over - mentally, anyway - had they actually lost this one. Rarely does a derby draw feel like a win, but given they bow to vast shifts of even the slightest winds, that Totti penalty just might turn out to be an unknown savior.
Considering those three matches should net, at the absolute minimum, seven points, the table shouldn't be assessed until they're over. (Champions League fantasies are done, however. Seven matches, ten points, four clubs in front. Not a chance unless they win out.)
- Oh, right. Totti equaled the derby goal record.
It's Totti. Come on. Just another week