Roma 3 - Lazio 2
The entire team got involved, but once again Mirko Vucinic-gol has stolen the show, with his 3rd goal in as many games filling in for Il Captiano over the last week. First things first, though: A big old fuck you to Lazio. The first derby win since 05-06 is massive, and the bragging rights belong to the Good Guys once again. Normally there would be more to brag about here, but Lazio just flat out ain't that good. It's like stealing candy from a paralyzed baby, and it's hard to feel good about that (well, unless your name is Massimo Moratti).
As for the game, Roma performed well, and had plenty of quality chances on goal, but holy shit did those last 15-20 minutes get nerve-wracking. Lazio was able to park the ball in Roma's half and put the lot of Rome's hearts (the good one's, at least), in their stomachs, while everybody impatiently waited for the final tweet-tweet-tweet.
Team-wise they performed well on the counter-attack, getting up the field quickly and working off the help and defense accordingly. Offensively it was a smart game, and would be more than enough against nearly every other team in Europe. Joga Bonito Roma is back and oh so beautiful yet again. Defensively....meh. Two goals against a team which had scored 9 in 9 this season isn't exactly wonderful.
The two stories were clearly Mancini and Mirko, who combined for two goals, two assists and countless jaws dropping from the tifosi. Mancini busted out his trademarked stepovers, while Mirko is patenting his new flick-on header which lands perfectly at the foot of a teammate. Which makes Mirko an expert on the head and I'll leave it at that. I'll also stop short of saying it's time for a two striker system, as it's painfully obvious. Just like Bob Costas' rug.
The score is a little closer than desired. But a derby win is a derby win is a derby win. The bastards went down and that's all that matters.
1. Inter 7-0-3 24pts (+14)
2. Roma 6-1-3 21pts (+9)
3. Juve 6-2-2 20pts (+11)
4. Viola 5-0-4 20pts (+10)
5. Udinese 5-2-3 18pts (0)
13. Lazio 2-4-4 10pts (-4)
The run of hell is over, and a win in Portugal next week means Roma can largely focus on taking out any and all of the smaller clubs in their way until the new year rolls around (and that ManYoo game). Now Roma gets to watch as the big boys take each other out and knock each other down the table. Being in second place and only 3 points behind the leaders make this run a success despite the disappointing draws, and leaves the scudetto as a very possible end result at the end of the rainbow.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Panucci, Mexes, Juan, Cassetti; De Rossi, Pizarro (42' st Brighi); Mancini (29 st Giuly), Perrotta, Tonetto; Vucinic (45' st Cicinho).
A disposizione: Curci, Ferrari, Barusso, Esposito. All.: Spalletti
LAZIO (4-3-1-2): Ballotta; De Silvestri, Stendardo (39' st Makinwa), Cribari, Zauri; Mudingayi (23' st Firmani), Ledesma, Manfredini (1' st Meghni); Mutarelli; Rocchi, Pandev.
A disposizione: Muslera, Scaloni, Baronio, Vignaroli. All.: Rossi
ARBITRO: Rocchi di Firenze
GUARDALINEE: Stagnoli e Copelli
QUARTO UOMO: Brighi
MARCATORI: al 12' Rocchi, al 19' Vucinic, al 42' Mancini, al 12' st Perrotta, al 25' st Ledesma.
NOTE: ammoniti al 19' Vucinic per essersi tolto la maglia nell'esultanza per il gol, al 45' Cassetti e al 16' st Pandev per scorrettezze, al 15' st De Rossi per proteste, al 39' st Pizarro e al 43' st Mutarelli per gioco falloso.
(Disclaimer: It's nearly impossible to watch a game in detail and liveblog at the same time, so some of these may be a touch off.)
Doni: Neither goal was his fault, and for the second straight game he positioned himself well and wasn't forced to make any outstanding saves, always the better option. Consistent performances like this from Doni take Roma to the next level, let's hope it stays this way. 7
Panucci: Solid, didn't do much outside of putting out a few threads to start the counter, but solid. 6.5
J-Smooth: This guy just continues to amaze, and will soon have to be talked about as one of the best central defenders in the entire world. So calm, so quick, so unbelievably effective. Easily the buy of last summer, and probably the best Roma buy since his partner. 8
Philou: For all he provides on a consistent basis, he gets a free pass for the Rocchi goal. Outside of that, he was commanding in the center of the pitch and cleared out the box regularly with his partner. Crockett & Tubbs are wll on their way to owning Serie A, now if only the rest of the team could follow along. 7.5
Cassetti: A second straight start on the left, and it seemed almost everything was out of order today. Did a lot, unfortunately not much of it was right. A poor game, though a large part of it was the effectiveness of Di Silvestri. Still, methinks that's Max's spot and methinks he should head back there. 6
DDR: Didn't cement his status, but was effective as both the deep-lying midfielder on the attack and what seems to be his new role as a 3rd CB on the field. Unfortunately, didn't close down well enough outside of the box and Ledesma progressively had a field day. This makes it 5 games in 14 days, I suspect the boy is pretty tired and will be glad to have a seat in the stands on Sunday (too many yellows). 7
Little David: I though LD had a fairly good game and though he didn't provide much in the way of offensive advancement (aside from a few cheeky long balls), he filled in around his usual duties well, and, get ready for this...HE PLAYED SOME FUCKING DEFENSE. Unbelievable stuff, really. Of course, it was more in the manner of "holy shit, did I just do that?" than "Michael Essien, eat your fucking heart out", but we'll take what we can get from him. Also did well on a few free kicks and corners - all around a decent game from the little guy. Of course, that didn't stop him from making a few donations to Lazio, including one counter attack which almost resulted in a serious chance on goal. He'll never learn. 7
* - Every time I compliment David he immediately plays like ass and does something to completely fuck the team over. Considering he'll be pairing with Matteo Brighi against Empoli (most likely), I'm not expecting big things whatsoever. Also, looked to be pretty gassed after the 70th. I suspect whatever happens we'll either see some new faces or tactics on Sunday.
Max: A typical Maxy game, taking his gray head all the way up and down the left hand flank, getting in and out of the box well and throwing in some pretty good crosses (including two where I though "not now not now not now" and he ended up slotting it perfectly past a defender - my bad). Still, he belongs back at LB. 7
Simone: Almost made me look good with two goals (in fact, almost had 4), although I suppose it take more than two goals from Simone to make me look good. Played exceptionally well when noticeable, and appeared to be close to, if not at, 100%. An in-from, hitting on all cyclinders Simone make this team nearly unstoppable, and I expect he, Mancini and Vucinic will form a stellar linking trio when Il Capitano is out, and having all four on the field at the same time sounds downright dreamy. 7.5
Mancini: Dynamic, fluid, effective...and he gave a shit. More than any other player on this squad outside of You Know Who, when he is consistent and on form, he has the capabilities to single-handedly tear teams apart and dominate the scoreboard, ultimately winning 3 points. This is one of those games where Lazio had no answer until TGIP gave them a little help by substituting him off. Why, we don't know. My MOTM, and nice to see another vintage Amantino performance in the derby. 7.5
Vucigol: He is...phenomenal. Absolutely phenomenal. He did miss a couple of golden chances, but there are plenty of great strikers with less than stellar goal per chance ratios. I have faith he'll eventually put those away as his time on the field increases and gets more and more into form (remember, he's been learning a new position and hurt for much of the last year - not exactly optimal yet).
His goalscoring is and has been known. What he is evolving to is a striker capable of playing as a link in one of the most fluid and demanding offensive systems for individual talents in Europe, not to mention creating his space and acquiescing himself to the system more each and every game. The goal had a little bit of help from Ballotta, who probably could have saved it had be reacted correctly, but goal scoring strikers in his mold get goals any way possible. There are now whispers that he truly is the new Sheva. I'm not going to argue against that. He earned his #9 jersey today. 7.5
Subs: None had enough of an impact for there to be any comment, but Brighi continually impresses in minor doses, and I'm looking forward to seeing him against Empoli over the weekend - provided Ahmed The Barbarian doesn't start (doubtful, but you could certainly find a worse partner for Little David).
TGIP: I had no issues with the lineup, but I think he's fallen too much in love with the idea of playing a defender on the wing, presumably as a way to a) offset the attack-minded system's fallibility, and b) offset the absence of Rodrigo. I think they really could have exposed Lazio with a Lulu Gulu or Espo on the wing today. I also think we all would have liked to see Cicinho get the start after his stellar performance against Milan, and against a team that would have had difficulties stopping both he and Mancini on the wing. An area that could have been more easily exposed, so I think TGIP missed an opportunity. Nothing big, though. 7
J-Smooth & Philou v Pandev & Rocchi: I'm still not sure if Pandev has shown up yet, and the duo learned their lesson after Rocchi's cherry-picked first goal. A solid performance from the best central defenders in Serie A. Winner: Crockett & Tubbs
Roma’s Finishing Booties v Whoever The Fuck Lazyo Has In Goal: Credit where credit is due: Ballotta had a couple of stellar saves, especially for a guy who was cryogenically frozen in the 1850's, and this scoreline could have been much higher. But the good guys put in a quality 3 goals, and pulled out a quality 3 points. Winner: The Booties
Simone v Injuries: Simone went down a stayed down late in the second half, to the point where I just thought "here we go again". But he played out the game and looks to have come out relatively unscathed. Outside of that incident, he appeared to be near 100% and played accordingly. Good to have old Simone back, and necessary to the success of this team. Winner: Simone
Space On The Flanks v Lazio’s Head On A Stick: Roma played the flanks well and got in their fair share of crosses. Lazio gave enough space for Roma to work with and they were able to capitalize by finding away to either put or take the ball into the box. You would think teams would realize this at some point soon, and try to close down out wide before they can get far enough down the pitch to make an impact. Then again, this is Lazio, and you can only ask for so much from a species which has barely evolved beyond Ug. Winner: The Space
MOTM: Mancini, now if we could only get him in for an entire 90...
They just need to stop allowing in stupid goals, which has unfortunately become rather commonplace. Either being too lackadaisical or conceding free kicks in the wrong places, and it needs to be curbed or it will bite them in the ass at some point this season. Other than that, with or without His Francesconess, this team is a veritable attacking windstorm, and if it can get all the right guys on the field at the same time, should go back to dominating games just as it had in the beginning of the season. But a derby win is a derby win.
And to Lazio...
One City, One Team