Fiorentina 0 - Roma 1: Sympathy For The Devil

Gabriele Maltinti

Let's get the important bit out of the way first: Roma is 2-0-0 and has conceded zero goals when Bogdan Lobont starts. This is not a coincidence.

Have you ever dated a crazy person? That's not to say someone who is merely different from you, or you two were actually a poor match from the start, or broke your heart and so you swath them as crazy to avoid dealing with the reality that you simply took part in an ill-advised relationship pairing. I mean someone who actually changes you. Someone who sucks the life out of you but you stay because they said they'll change and the good times are so good how could you possibly not? And when the good times do arrive you can't even dream of letting them go. This is what you were waiting for. This is why you stay. This is what no one else understands. Then one day everything changes again and you're left ruing the lost time in the relationship because you should've walked away a long time ago. Shortly thereafter, the good times hit and the cycle reignites. A cycle that may never end.

I give you one Pablo Daniel Osvaldo.

He's not so different than Mirko Vucinic in this respect, though Mirko offered more to the side on the whole. Pablo scores goals. That's all. The rest of the time one could replace him with cardboard cutouts of John Candy in various yoga positions and yield the same outcome. And that's fine. He's a prima punta. That's his job. Mirko, on the other hand, could actually make other contributions; making bizarre runs, beating his man solo, leading the counter, the occasional wonderful pass, and the simple fact he had to be marked forty miles from goal because he just might... One replaced the other and their method of contributions can often be seen as the same: 89:55. For eighty-nine minutes and fifty-five seconds, they gave you nothin' - perhaps even less than nothin'. But then those five seconds make it all worth it. This was the Pablo we were offered against Fiorentina.

The difference is his 'crazy' is destructive, whereas Mirko was merely "Oh, crazy old grandpa forgot to put his pants on again today." Often literally. This, much like an actual relationship, makes the decision to part incredibly difficult. Is the true cost of keeping the relationship alive worth it? It's impossible to know.

When approaching the question of selling him, Pablo's most redeeming quality isn't his goals but the fact his teammates genuinely seem to like him. Did you see Alessandro Florenzi after the final whistle? The man broke several land-speed records on his way to man-hug Pablo like it was the Roma man-love of old. This is the same reaction a number of Osvaldo's teammates have, perhaps simply because he 'brings the good stuff'. Is that enough? His teammates won't quit on him, but he's quit on them. And he quit on Espanyol too. But then there are the goals. Those valuable goals. Then the invoice comes, often on a red sheet. Maybe in one week or two weeks. Maybe in six months. But it's there. The cycle. The cycle begins anew.

There is no right answer, as the greatest problem lies in that true clarity can only come with hindsight. Perhaps three days, perhaps three years, after either cutting the cord or making the decision to fight on. I don't envy having to make the decision.

At the very least, he's making himself a more desirable asset for other clubs who think they can change him. Thanks for the goals amidst the limbo.

Aurelio

The dude's on 2.25 points per match in the league right now. Small sample size and all, but that's good for 86 76 points over the course of a league season. It puts them in second this year with 70 points and a Champions League spot. Obviously the schedule takes an upward spike with Milan andNapoli to finish out the year, not forgetting that minor bit about the derby, but if he finishes on a similar pace, how do they not hire him?

What do you want from Allegri? What do you want from Mazzarri? Wouldn't it be precisely what Andreazzoli has already given them? Can you make the argument this is an aberration?

The numbers back Aurelio.

His tactical switch to a three-man back was the difference against Fiorentina, of course. That said....it seemed sort of obvious before the match this was how this Roma should construct itself against this Fiorentina. But he recognized the angle, took it, and in the end, it did make a difference. The man knows how to adapt and adapt correctly, which means he knows how to stop the bleeding. Roma could use a bit of that while the children grow.

He's been an effective coach with an understanding of both the game and the players at his disposal. Given his record - so long as Roma doesn't check out for the remainder of the season, which always remains a possibility - if another coach is appointed, it needs to be supplemented with an explanation as to why Aurelio wasn't hired. If it's simply, "We thought Walter was better," that's fine. But it needs to be there - he's earned at least that, which is far more than anyone expected.

Notes

  • Don't complain about the manner of results. Not yet. Roma can't afford the luxury of pretty football yet, because pretty football often requires a certain type of player which requires money which requires Europe unless you want to shuffle them all off at the end of the season.

    After the failings of Luis Enrique and Zeman, this club needed a little bit of Ranieri Redux.
  • Allow me to dust off my monocle and approach this with all the class one can muster:

    Juan Cuadrado is a little bitch.

    That is all.
  • The first half performances from Nicolas Burdisso and Vasilis Torosidis were excellent. The second-half performances dropped, but they arguably kept Roma in the match with the block party they threw for the first forty-five.
  • Every now and again Daniele De Rossi shows glimpses that he might get himself together and become the world's premier defensive mid again. There were a few glimpses against Fiorentina.
  • Goalkeeping. So Bogdan Lobont should be the starter, obviously. But Mauro Goicoechea always got more stick than he deserved. Always. And if Fiorentina highlighted anything, it's that May 26th should be the last date in which Maarten Stekelenburg has the opportunity to wear a Roma shirt.

    Never thought it would feel a luxury to watch a goalkeeper move for a shot.
  • Given Daniele's handball, Fiorentina have every right to complain about the refereeing, which was also far too lenient in the first half. Unfortunately, these things happen.
  • One critique for every single person at the club:

    Stop mentioning the Champions League. Just stop. I realize journalists bait with questions, but don't bring it up. The likelihood it happens is so incredibly remote, perhaps nonexistent, and it just serves to create a false air of superiority which Roma often takes onto the pitch against the likes of Palermo or Pescara or, gasp, Chievo. One would think this club has been humbled enough times it would should some more humility.

    Plus it doesn't hurt as far a juju goes. And it's all about the juju.

Chievo midweek for the right to play midweek, with Milan (away) and Napoli (home) thereafter. Udinese is one point behind and Fiorentina now only three points ahead as Roma sits fifth.


Much like Pablo, this club is never short on drama.

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