Not even the washing machine could clean up this mess. It was an all-round frustrating and stressful match to watch that Roma arguably dominated. No one will remember the dominance since it's something that Roma has been good at doing all year but rarely has it been this pointless. Today was one of those days. Despite being in control for the large majority of the match, Roma were just as close, if not closer, to throwing it all away than actually coming away with all three points. In the end, there wasn't enough done to justify a win.
Albeit just as nail-biting as the second, the first half was undoubtedly more entertaining to watch. It was overshadowed by Daniele Orsato's whistle blowing at every turn which threatened the match from getting any flow going. After an energetic start from Roma, Lazio settled in well (relatively speaking) and were able to push back primarily at the hands of Antonio Candreva. He was proving to be a nightmare for Vasilis Torosidis. He never beat him completely, but he did force our make-shift leftback into conceding a few corners. The youngster, Keita, did the same to a much lesser extent on the opposite flank but still managed to keep Maicon honest. Douglas was able to burst forward on a few occasions, and set up a rebound for Gervinho to tap in but he was correctly judged to be offside. The other chance in the half also came from Maicon, when he was able to find Miralem Pjanić. Unfortunately, he looked shocked at having such an amazing opportunity and his hesitation limited him from having a better shot on target.
The second half was different. Keita came off for Mauri, a clear sign of what Lazio's intentions were. They were going to sit back, and that they did. Roma again started well but fizzled out. By the time it was over and Torosidis and Bastos were kicking it back and forth seconds away from the final whistle, the play on the pitch was reminiscent of Aurelio Andreazzoli's Roma. Sure, subs came on, and we attacked more while Lazio defended more. Their defending won. We came close with Bastos cutting into the box and playing the perfect ball for Destro, but Destro didn't run to it. Why? You tell me. Replays even showed Mattia pointing ahead of him and when Michel put it where Mattia wanted it, Mattia didn't show up. It's probably down to lack of chemistry and doubts over what Michel was thinking. These doubts may never go away, Mattia, you've been warned. Gervinho was also dispossessed and stopped chasing, leading to a very dangerous two on one chance for the bad guys. During the match it looked like Castán blocked the pass, but everywhere I've looked after gives credit to Torosidis. Whether this is true or continued discrimination against Leandro, it is yet to be seen.
Maybe they were trying to save some energy for Wednesday, maybe they were simply out of energy altogether. Maybe we needed Radja even though he would get sent off. Whatever it is, today's performance mirrored that of someone trying to eat with chopsticks for the first time. Or maybe just how it was for me. Mouth-watering, the food is inches away from you. You can taste it. No, you can't. But you think you can. Your hands quiver and fingers tie themselves into knots somehow. Sometimes you can't even bring the food off the plate. Sometimes you can, and sometimes you bring it so close to your mouth but no. Something goes wrong; you hiccup, hear the restaurant's door chime chingle (that's a sound not a word) or get an itch above your eyebrow. Whatever happens, it's enough to get your coordination messed up and enough to keep you hungry. Your food falls back to your plate if you're lucky, and if you're not then all you can think of is how disappointed Strootman is looking at you for making a mess. I'm disappointed, too, Kevin.
Not so Key Players
Rather than focussing on who did exceptionally well today (here's a hint, no one), I figured I could just give a few lines to everyone. It was either that or pick out a few players who really let me (and you, all of you, the orphans, homeless and heartbroken, etc.) down today. In my mind, none of these guys were great enough to stand out from anyone else.
Morgan De Sanctis - Well, he didn't make errors like he did in the last match against Napoli but in a combination of much better defending and Lazio not pressing the issue, he did not have to do much today. Sure, he got bumped around a few times, but he did the job. The only drawback I can think of is his shaving of his face. Was that necessary, Morgan?
Maicon - One of the "better" performers today. He took a pretty nasty knock to his kneecap in the first half and still was able to carry on. It's debatable, but it could be said that he gave our best attacking performance today. Not that it says a lot or anything.
Mehdi Benatia - He picked up a yellow after being dispossessed by Klose in the first half, but beyond that he didn't have to do a whole bunch. When he did, he stepped up. In fact, he took part in more than a few offensive moves, which is always refreshing (and pearl clutching) to see from a centreback. Maybe he could see how disappointing our attack was and couldn't help himself.
Leandro Castán - He had a few sloppy and clumsy moments in the first half, and it doesn't help that his face always looks like he's sitting at the front of a rollercoaster that's just about to roll over an edge. Still, he didn't make any errors and considering the low standard set for performances today, he was up there.
Vasilis Torosidis - Oh boy. He was all over the place in a bad way. Totti's low percentage passes aside, Torosidis was by far the poorest passer today, and that's not even the beginning of it. He was awful. I haven't mentioned anything in the posts when he has good performances so I feel a little bad (only a little) for calling him out right now, but his block on that one Onazi counter two on one (you all know which one) pretty much redeemed everything. It's a wash. That's how bad he was.
Miralem Pjanić - He hasn't been 100% fit, and looked like he still wasn't today. Rudi said he's better, but maybe Mire is a tiny bit rusty, too? Far from awful, but he didn't help the cause. Had a chance to score but didn't. Chopsticks.
Daniele De Rossi - Defensively, he was great. Well, the two footed block-tackle in the first half was unnecessary. Lazio's existence as a club is also unnecessary, but I don't hear anyone complaining. Going forward, we were all pretty bad. Dani's long balls were a letdown but he did have a solid performance.
Kevin Strootman - The mess was too much for Kevin today. He did well, he always does well. I wanted him to be a dishwashing superhero but that was asking for too much. If I was allowed to Photoshop a picture of Kevin shrugging while wearing a dishwasher uniform in a kitchen full of dishes, I would. I wouldn't need a match review. Stay strong, Kevin.
Alessandro Florenzi - I love you in so many ways. You never give up, you're always smiling and your personality is way too big for your body. But where in Totti's name were you today? I think I just sighed.
Francesco Totti - Il Capitano looked good. Lazio were rough with him and eventually it slowed him down. He could have used some help today because doing everything himself wasn't going to work.
Gervinho - So, we couldn't get a single coin flip going our way with this guy today. He usually struggles enough to play a simple game but watching him overcomplicate (and ruin) moves today was gut wrenching. It didn't help that Lazio camped and left no room behind them, especially in the second half.
Michel Bastos - For a debut, it wasn't terrible. He showed some signs that he can be useful. Heck, he almost created a goal. He's still understandably off-key with the rest of the squad, so it is a little early to judge him too harshly.
Adem Ljajić - He hasn't been himself lately, but today was a match where he probably could have been more useful than a number of other attackers (read: all, bar Totti). He showed glimpses in limited time.
Mattia Destro - Didn't have long enough, but there was one clear chance that he should have taken. I'm still wondering what happened there.