Yet another game where the Romans couldn't defend their lead, where the front line set up the kill but the cavalry couldn't take them out. All the credit in the world due to Napoli, but let's face it, there was an easy 3 points to be had here; and once again, they dropped them (not once, not twice, but three times). At this point Roma's toughest opponent is themselves, and they can't continue spending every game playing 1 v 2 if they want to make a legitimate run at some serious hardware on any front.
The game was full of mistakes from most on the pitch from both sides, but more notably, someone off the pitch, which is becoming an alarmingly consistent development. The Grand Imperial Poobah's lineup had little to scoff about, though quite a few will point out Napoli was going to have a field day all game long down the left flank with the defensive prowess and physicality of Ludovic Giuly and Cicinho. Most will blame the youngster, Gianluca Curci, but it wasn't entirely his fault. We'll assume that Doni and Juan were left out of the roster because they returned just yesterday from their World Cup qualification games in the southern hemisphere - as well as potentially giving new papa Curci a little gift.
The moves I have really come to question are the substitutions, and in this game, one in particular. The one I do not understand whatsoever is why Spalletti brings off Mancini - who was fantastic for most of the game and one of the players most involved in nearly every offensive possession - for Mirko Vucinic, while Lulu Gulu is sitting on the other flank doing a bunch of nothing. This 5 minutes after brining on Marco Cassetti for Cicinho in what was an obvious attempt to bring some more defensive ability to the right side (yeah, you read that correctly, "Cassetti" and "more defense" in the same sentence). I'm not sure if Spalletti had forgotten, but Mancini was a RW and a RB not all that long ago, so why not bring on Mirko for Giuly, slot Mancini over to the right, and get a little band-aid on both in one sub, saving another. Makes sense, no?
Mancini never should have been brought off, unless there was an injury I'm not aware of (or gassed, which didn't appear to be the case). Just logic. Or maybe bring on Cassetti or Christian Panucci for Cicinho, push him up to RW and allow for two RBs on the right side to help protect the lead? There were a few non-subs which could have been made, namely Max Tonetto who was clearly not on par today. But Spalletti doesn't seem to trust anyone anymore (especially the youngsters), which is yet another very questionable mystery. He asked for them, he got them, now they're not good enough? I don't get it.
As for that Panucci for Lulu sub, it was quite evident he was just brought in as a tall(er) option for the corner kicks and crosses, and that's all. Which brings up yet another point: Why the hell is Christian Panucci the best aerial option they have off the bench? The Oompa Loompas are fine, but they need a big body in there as a tall option, and I'm not referring to Keivan "I'm The Next Luca Toni" Zarineh. Another striker, a taller striker, hell, a tall body (me! me! me!) just to get in there and throw their noggin at it.
I think Spalletti could have made some much better decisions during the game, which would have helped stopped the bleeding, and certainly helped prevent Roma from conceding four goals at home two games in a row. It's become quite evident that he is incapable of rectifying on the fly. It's as though he goes into meltdown mode and is unaware of how to right the ship, either tactically or verbally. I'm not insinuating that he should be replaced, but maybe someone could get Ranieri to give him a call.
(We still love you, Spal)
(courtesy of romanews)
ROMA: Curci, Cicinho (13' st Cassetti), Ferrari, Mexes, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Giuly (46' st Panucci), Perrotta, Mancini (19' st Vucinic); Totti. A disposizione: Julio Sergio, Juan, Brighi, Barusso. All.Spalletti
NAPOLI: Iezzo; Cupi (32' st Contini), Cannavaro, Domizzi; Garics, Blasi, Gargano, Hamsik, Savini (37' st Calaiò); Lavezzi (40' st Bogliacino), Zalayeta. A disposizione: Gianello, Montervino, De Zerbi, Sosa. All.Reja.
ARBITRO: Tagliavento di Terni
GUARDALINEE: Biasutto e Lion
QUARTO UOMO: Moraganti
MARCATORI: 2' Lavezzi, 29' Totti, 41' Perrotta, 2' st Hamsik, 6' st De Rossi, 18' st Gargano, 34' st Pizarro, 39' st Zalayeta
NOTE: ammoniti al 28' Lavezzi e al 16' st De Rossi per gioco falloso, al 7' st Ferrari per fallo di mano, al 13' st Hamsik per proteste.
Highlights Nothing as of yet, but check out the goals from Daryl's post on the home page.
Other Game Stuff
• There were times when Napoli was getting far far too much space, especially in dangerous areas (See 1st and 2nd goals). It was quite evident early in the game, when they were seemingly as slow as slow gets. Not a good start from the Giallorossi.
• You shouldn't be giving up goals on headers when the goalscorer is double teamed....ever.
• Sometimes, I have no idea what position Lulu Gulu is playing. I'm not sure he knows either. But whatever position he plays, asking him to defend is never going to get it done no matter how many bodies you have in front of the net (3rd goal). We miss you, Rodrigo. (I'll say it, Rodrigo playing means 3)
• Guess who came off his man, Lavezzi, to whiff on the ball in that first goal, leaving him open? David Pizarro. Fucking hell. I don't care what anyone says. He can look pretty on passes and control the ball well, but he is responsible for creating just as many goals as he gives up. I'm done trying to like him.
• Good game for Napoli, baaaaaaad game for Iezzo. Some of that stuff could've been saved by a back up for the Primavera.
• What is it about the Olimpico the last few weeks? 5, 6, and 8 goals in its last 3 games? 19 goals in three games? What the hell did they put on the pitch? Do the balls have a homing device which sends them into the back of the net? Are they poisoning the defenders in Rome? Incredible stuff, really.
• If Tales From The Crypt ever makes a return, I nominate Hamsik for the role of the Cryptkeeper.
• Lavezzi combined the skills of Carlitos Tevez with the haircut of Bruno Conti oh so well (Bruno's on the left - fyi). However, Bruno love aside, if he doesn't cut that thing being spawned from the back of his head I'm going to fly to Napoli and chop his head off. Then run as fast as I can before his girlfriend finds out.
• The first goal and the last goal for Napoli all came off free kicks. Both free kicks were won when a Napoli player was holding up the ball with a defender on his back and the defender sent him to the ground with a push (Max on the first, Philou on the other). It's one thing to give a set piece for a legitimate challenge, but they don't need to hand out freebies. Especially when your set piece defense is less than stellar. I suspect Spalletti will bring this up at some point.
• There was a play in the middle of the first half where Mancini took possession on the left side of the box and was being defended by two blues. He flicked the ball to his right, but the defender blocked it with his raised knee. At first glance I thought "that's just Mancini being Mancini". On second glance I realized he was trying to play the ball off the defenders arm for a penalty. I love this move.
• A couple of nice backheels in a row from Simone and Francesco, which resulted in little. Even with a disappointing draw, it's always fun to watch.
• Before the game I had mentioned to someone I wish DDR would start taking more shots, because it appears offhand that he isn't shooting as much as he should (a quick check and he hasn't, really: 13 shots & 3 on goal in 9 games). For being one of Roma's best offensive weapons, he should up this total significantly and it was nice to see him think shoot before pass more often today. You always want your best players to be a little bit selfish.
(6-8 rating system)
Curci: 4 goals is 4 goals, even though most weren't his fault. If we've said it once we've said 8 bajillion times: he needs to be loaned out ASAP. I'm not lambasting him, but he didn't have any other spectacular saves to make up for it. Just not a good game. 6
(On the other hand, how many goals does Doni concede? I say at least 3, if not 4 - which says a lot about where the blame lies)
Cicinho: Solid but not spectacular, flashed those offensive abilities quite nicely a few times down the blue side of the pitch. But still leaves much to be desired defensively. 7
Ferrari: Yellow card was a joke, but he was alright. Not much to speak of. 6.5
Mexes: Hard to commend the leader of a defense that allowed 4 goals but Philou did very well today and was not at fault for the goals (although handing over that free kick was uncalled for). Sadly, it wasn't enough. 7
Tonetto: One of the poorer games Max has played in recent times. Started out well, but couldn't really get in any crosses (including one lollipop which was an obvious homage to Massimo Oddo), and his runs typically resulted in little if any offensive contribution. 6.5
De Rossi: DDR had some great moments and let his talent and work rate dictate his impact on the pitch. It was hard to pick the MOTM, but he was it for me. 7.5
Pizarro: Ugh. First of all, the goal was deflected, so all you nut-huggers factor that in. That aside, he had some good moments and did well on the ball throughout the first half, although largely disappeared during most of the second half. We know what we're getting and what we're not getting from him, but some of those attempted "tackles" were downright comical (that and when he came flying into Curci's arms after the Perrotta goal). No matter what he provides offensively, I have little faith in him against top-level, and occasionally mid-level, teams. Fact is, he was "related" to two Napoli goals. I don't know what else to say anymore. 6.5
Giuly: I'm trying to remember any real meaningful impact he had on the game and I still can't come up with anything. Although watching Mancini send in that cross to Lulu was awesome for comedic purposes. It's evident he's quickly becoming a Spalletti favorite, which might not be such a good thing. 6.5
Perrotta: Simone can finish! Simone can finish! The goal was a much welcomed development considering the first months of the season. Outside of that it was quite a bit of hit or miss. During stretches in the first half, as many people have mentioned, I'm not even sure he was on the pitch at times. But he did provide the little things and improved his consistency and impact in the second half. It's nice to have an indispensable Simone back. 7
* - But he gets an 8 for the goal celebration where he chipped off his stone boots and then ran down the other end to mimic cradling a baby with the new father. Class all around.
Mancini: Easily the most creative and present offensive influence during the first half, and his substitution made me go from thinking "They're gonna score more goals" to "I hope they score again". There was no spoon in the back of the net, but there were some fantastic dribbles, runs, crosses and passes - often when he was the only offensive option in the vicinity - which should have been reason enough to leave him on the pitch for the remainder. 7.5
Totti: Certainly was not vintage, which may have been impacted by that muscle fatigue thing. In fact, the penalty was in danger of being saved, which gave me nightmarish flashbacks of last year. Even legends have a game when they're only a little better than everyone else. 7
Cassetti: Had a positive impact when coming on the pitch and created some nice space for himself on dribbles and a few crosses. Nice to have him back, and - get ready for this - may actually be the first choice RB. Tell me you had that before the season. 7
Vucinic: I'm almost ready to write off the Vucigol at LW experiment - he's good but not consistent enough (Amantino can be inconsistent, but the odd moment of brilliance makes up for it in spades). For fuck's sake he's scored 4 goals this year for his country in a lineup which is focused on, well, him. Didn't have the best touch on the ball today but got in some good positions (when onside). I suspect we would've seen more had he been playing elsewhere - ahem, striker - and had a LW feeding him more balls. 7
Panucci: Not enough time.
MOTM: De Rossi
New formation. It's that simple, and I've been banging my head into the wall saying it for lord knows how long now. Vlad summed it up in the last comment thread adequately:
“Also, Spalletti needs to change that fucking formation. I like it a lot, usually, but we’re too goddamn predictable, and it’s too much of a liability. Simply put, when we’re not on our game, it doesn’t work. It allows too much space for counter-attacks, and relies heavily on midfielders to participate directly in the attack. For once, just give us fans a (sorry for this) Inter-style cynical win, were we’re not fucking sambaing our way past the goal-line, but unspectacularly heading in a cross, tapping in a ball that comes loose because of a defensive mistake, whatever.”
Exactly. I love watching balls being cha-cha-ed across the goal line in a synchronized waltz, but I love wins more. And so don't all fans, players and management. It was an exciting game, a goal-fest which we all love at times, but the result is what matters. So if you need to bring on an extra CB and go into catenaccio mode for a half hour or so, then do it. Or if you need to put out a 4-4-1-1 and play for the 1-0 victory, then do so. Or if you need to take one of the most goddamn talented players on your team and put him in the best situation for him to succeed, then do it. There needs to be more everything. Flexibility, rotation, chicanery, smoke and mirrors; but especially more in-game improvements and transitioning. Too many goals in the last quarter, which I blame on Spalletti. It's his job to get the players prepared to play a good, solid and productive 90. Not a great 70-75 and a mediocre 20. Teams like that don't win championships. They constantly wonder aloud why they can't win one.
* - Sporting Lisbon at home up next on Tuesday. I'd say they should win that one, but Joao & Co. looked pretty good against ManYoo, so who knows. Hopefully the performance, or rather the ability to close the game, improves, or we may be discussing whether or not Roma will advance past the group stages. Not fun.