In his last 6 games at striker, for both Roma and The Most Awesome Montenegro, Mirko Vucinic has, count 'em, 5 goals. Last time I checked, a 0.83 goals per game ratio is pretty damn good, unless you're Francesco Totti - at which point it becomes "Eh, I could do better. Maybe I'll try next game." Does The Grand Imperial Poobah need anymore evidence? No clue. I know I don't. It's time for a two striker system.
Aside from the three Euro points and the resurgence of Vucigol as major stories was the first half injury of His Holiness, Francesco. The extent of the injury is yet to be determined (no physical damage, but probably keeping him out of the Milan game), but the first good news was that it wasn't the ankle of two years ago. Now, Vucigol filled his shoes well, but dropping from Francesco to Mirko is like going from Rebecca Romijn-Stamos to Rebecca Romijn. The talent is still there, but you're just missing that little bit of magic that Uncle Jesse provides. Luckily, it didn't matter this time around. (And there's nothing to say Totti wouldn't have scored 12 kazillion goals.)
Anyway, despite winning an important three points, it was not a great performance. In fact, the one thing which has dogged the team over the last 3 weeks took it to the next level, seemingly going from mental indifference to plain old indifference. Unless they hit the community bong pre-game (possible), they were far too lethargic and uninspired for much of the game, and that might work against Sporting, but it won't work against Milan and Lazio. (Well....)
(I know I always put up Roma Roma Roma before the games, but I always forget to add Grazie Roma after the wins...I finally remembered)
ManYoo 9pts (+4)
Roma 6pts (+2)
Sporting 3pts (-1)
Dynamo Kyiv 0pts (-5)
Despite the good start and reaching the midway point in a commanding second place (Sporting still has to travel to warm and sunny England), the second half is probably the tougher part of the schedule. The two lesser teams are both away games, and ManYoo at home is no easy task, though still much more welcome than playing against 12 in Chanmester. At this point we can expect that unless Sporting gets lucky, Roma should advance, and a win on November 7th would all but seal that deal.
MARCATORI: Juan (R) al 15', Liedson (S) al 18' p.t.; Vucinic (R) al 24' s.t.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Panucci, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto; De Rossi, Pizarro; Cassetti, Giuly (28' s.t. Brighi), Mancini (42' s.t. Cicinho); Totti (35' p.t. Vucinic). (Curci, Ferrari, Barusso, Antunes). All. Spalletti.
SPORTING LISBONA (4-3-1-2): Tiago; Abel, Tonel, Veloso, Ronny (31' s.t. Purovic); Izamailov (36' s.t. Celsinho), Moutinho, Vukcevic (25' s.t. Paredes); Romagnoli; Yannick, Liedson. (Rui Patricio, Gladstone, Had, Adrian Silva). All. Bento.
ARBITRO: Hauge (Nor).
NOTE: spettatori 30.000 circa. Ammoniti Cassetti, Tonel, Vucinic, Moutinho, Juan. Recupero 3' p.t., 4' s.t.
Warning: The only real continuous streaming I was able to watch was for the final 30, because life just decided,"Hey, let's kick his ass today with a lot of little nagging problems" yesterday, and the rest was choppy and flat out terrible. So factor that in, as some probably looked better than they really were. Also, I keep it simple at 6-8 and only 6-8. My brain stops functioning beyond two numbers.
Doni: I'm going to start doing a head count after the games just to see how many of my readers died during the course of the game. Everybody good? 6.5
Panucci: Typically solid Old Man River. 7
Philou: Is it me or has Philou gone from Campbell's Chunky Soup to Campbell's Fully Loaded With Horse Testosterone Provided By Paul Byrd this year? He looks like he hit the gym hard over the summer. Anyway, solid, and unfortunate on that first shot. 7
J-Smooth: Chivu who? 7.5
Tonetto: I couldn't think of anything to write for Max, so I thought I'd post a picture of
an orangutan getting dressed:
DDR: I'm going to run out of compliments for him by the time the year runs out. Therefore, I'll keep it simple and give him quite probably the highest praise possible: Typical De Rossi. 7.5
Pizarro: Contrary to popular belief, I don't hate David. He seems like a decent enough guy - a little weird, but good enough. That doesn't mean, though, that he belongs within arm's distance of the starting XI, or the field on certain occasions. Maybe in another place, another time (You know, "It's not about you, we're just in a different place in our lives and we want different things"..."Oh, you mean I have goals and you have the maturity of a 12 year old?"). While the Aquilani debate is now over, we have another on our hands. Who backs up King Alberto? Welcome to the Brighi-Pizarro debate. 6
Mancini: A game to forget, and it really appears there is something wrong with him mentally or emotionally (Or we may have to take a page from the Manny Ramirez textbook and say it's just "Mancini being Mancini"). Guess how many games he's started and finished a game this season? One. 8 games, being substituted off 7 times, all between the 62nd and 74th minute marks before yesterday. Methinks all is not well in Happyhappyland. 6
* - This is where I say if Roma hadn't been playing an important game yesterday this page would've been bombarded with a Red Sox pornado of massive proportions. Enjoy tomorrow's post. And yes, my first born's name is going to be Joshua Alberto Beckett Daniele De Totti.
Lulu Gulu: His presence in the squad was a boon in the start of the season, but it appears his effectiveness has dwindled, with those patented short bursts of speed and pleasure not resulting in much of a culmination, thus he'll soon go back to the role he was primarily brought in for: late game sub as The Pocket Rocket of Frenchness. 6.5
Cassetti: I've always thought of Marco as sort of a tweener. Someone who has some qualities of one role, some qualities of another, but not great at either job - kind of like J-Lo or Justin Timberlake (you're white, fuckin' deal with it). Despite shining thus far this campaign, Marco ain't no RW - although I absolutely understand why TGIP tried him here. Some of his moves, crosses and runs have been very winger-ish, so it was only natural to give it a whirl. Whirl's over. 6.5
Vucigol: If I've said it once, I've said it one hundred infinity times: play the man where he was born to play. He won the penalty, amped the crowd and then put on a one man show in scoring the deciding goal. He flashed agility, power, finesse and strength in single-handedly bringing Roma back from the edge of combustion. He's young and passionate enough that maybe his presence is exactly what this team needs to show a little life again. Legend in the Making needs his time. 7.5
Cicinho: Not enough time.
Brighi: I want to see more, I want to see a lot more. He could be a more than adequate vice-Perrotta and needs to see much more pitch time than he is currently getting. Hopefully once the month ends and the derby is over he'll be able to see some significant, if not starting, minutes as the minnows come to town. 7
Conti: Just exquisite form on the running jump into Mirko's arm celebrating the goal. 8
TGIP: Kudos to the big fella for shaking things up and putting out some relatively surprising tactical inclusions, including the fullbacks on the wing and bringing in Brighi when Brighi should have been brought in. No formation change, but it worked. 7.5
Sporting v The Long And Lonely Italian Road: Old habits die hard. Old losing habits die harder (also the new title in Bruce Willis' upcoming 78th Die Hard movie). Sporting didn't embarrass themselves, but they were outclassed, and should have lost by many many more - it's just that the always merciful Giallorossi let them off the hook (not that it was intentional or anything). Winner: The Italian Road
Roma v Back-Up Keeps: The finishing boots are still elsewhere, probably hosting a party at the bottom of of the Mediterranean with the boys from the better half of Milan. (Coming Up Sunday: Watch two of Europe's elite squads dry hump each other silly but never finish the job. Well, the Milan fans can. Enjoy that.) Anyways, they need to start capitalizing on the chances that are handed to them on a silver platter, nevermind earning their own. Winner: Back-Up Keeps
Roma’s Rather Porous D Of Late v Sporting’s 97-Headed Attack: One very legitimate and quality goal from Sporting is nothing to thumb your nose at, although the inability of Roma to defend aerially on crosses is becoming a little too much of a pattern for my liking. Still, the defense held them in check and J-Smooth was phenomenal in calmly closing down the back line. The partnership is going to take a while to completely gel, but having he and Philou play well together frequently right now is very promising foreshadowing for the future. All hail Jumexes. Winner: The Post-Proactive D (And you know Juan maintains his sexy, just like Puff Diddly)
Daniele De Rossi v Sporting: Daniele De Rossi owns everybody, because he's The Guy. It's really that simple. Winner: His DDRness
MOTM: Vucigol, not only for the goal and winning the penalty, but also for the emotional lift he provided in the second half. His goal seemed to give the team a collective shot of adrenaline. For a team that has shown a propensity for falling apart in the final 20 of games, the impact cannot be conveyed enough. It was ginormous.
I'm beginning to believe that this team's ability to create and almost score goals at will (well, they could take a course in finishing from Arsenal) is one of their biggest problems. It breeds a sense of complacency because they feel they're never out of the game. That, because their play is so fluid and so unstoppable at times, that they can walk about the pitch without a sense of urgency. A sense of urgency which is important to a team like Inter, which has nary a chance of creating a goal unless Zlatan is involved, therefore they always play with that proverbial carrot within sniffing distance. A team which relies on 1,2 or a max of 3 goals would play for a full-throttled 90 and constantly be on their toes, knowing one slip means the game. This team doesn't have that aura about them.