What a week for Old Man River. On Wednesday he spearheaded the Azzurri win by leaping over the hopes and dreams of the Tartan Army, and Saturday he basically did the exact same thing, only with much less severe ramifications for the Rossoblu. Of course this time was much easier, as the only person marking him appeared to be the ghost of Christmas past. You think Dynamo might slap a couple of guys on OMR at the far post on set pieces? Yeah?
For the rest of the game: Meh. I didn't find it boring by any means, but there was a lot of movement that resulted in absolutely squadoosh for both teams, which was a lot like watching a teenager fumble around with a bra clasp, finally flinging it open on a last gasp attempt to the sound of horns and a releasing of doves. It also got a touch sloppy at times, especially the long balls (I'm looking at you, Daniele). Certainly not vintage Roma, but it was a win missing half the starting lineup and in those instances, three points is all one really cares about. Plus, it was nice to be tied at top for a couple of hours before David Suazo's cross magically hit the post and wound up at the foot of Julio Cruz. (Seriously, how much luck can one team have? 9 times out of 10 a craptastic cross like that ricochets elsewhere, but not for Inter. Bastards.)
The most important aspect of the game is that nobody went down injured. Leaving Genoa unscathed is nothing short of a minor miracle after the last month of so. Apparently who ever has the Giallorossi injury voodoo doll decided to take the weekend off and for that we are hugely thankful.
So hands off the panic button, for now.
1. Inter 25pts (+15)*
2. Roma 25pts (+10)*
3. Udinese 25pts (+3)
4. Fiorentina 23pts (+11)
5. Juve 22pts (+11)
* - Still a game in hand.
Next game, home with Udenese. Cripes. With the big boys (Totti, Alberto, Philou and Simone) not making the trip to Kiev, let's hope this week is enough to get 3 if not all 4 back in the fold. The key to that match is definitely going to be the medical staff.
GENOA (3-4-3): Rubinho; Konko, Bovo, Bega; M.Rossi (45' st Figueroa), Paro, Juric, Danilo (28' st M. Coppola); Leon, Borriello, Sculli (16' st Di Vaio).
A disposizione: Scarpi, Lucarelli, De Rosa, Fabiano.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Panucci, Ferrari, Juan, Cassetti; De Rossi, Brighi (21' st Giuly); Mancini (37' st Esposito), Pizarro (47' st Barusso), Tonetto; Vucinic.
A disposizione: Curci, Cicinho, Antunes, Pit.
ARBITRO: Rosetti di Torino (leggi la scheda)
GUARDALINEE: Papi e Niccolai
QUARTO UOMO: Stefanini
MARCATORI: al 44' st Panucci
NOTE: ammoniti al 44' Danilo e al 43' st Juric per gioco falloso, al 5' st Paro, al 27' st Ferrari e al 33' st Bovo per scorrettezze, al 41' Bega per fallo di mano.
Not the best game, but I've seen worse. I thought they played much better in the first half (typical), and started to get a little bit unhinged in the second. At the beginning of the game I liked Little David playing up top a little more because it appeared his dribbling, one of his best attributes, was more effective there. Of course, that's when he was there, which wasn't often. DDR started off the game by taking more shots, always nice, and I think this was because he was given more offensive liberties knowing that Brighi could fill in capably behind him, rather than having to babysit LD. (The three back Genoa D helps also.)
The person who really impressed me most in the first half was Mancini. Not because he was stellar or anything - he wasn't - but because he was busting his ass for loose balls and trying to take the ball away from everyone in his vicinity. We don't get to see that often from Amantino, and let's hope that the international break did him some good. My highlight for the match was Danilo pulling down Mancini, being slapped in the face as Amantino was going down, getting a bloody nose in the process and a yellow card for his troubles. Probably not his favorite moment of the game.
The passing was pretty off from some people, David was hit or miss, though he had a few decent threads, Brighi the same, but DDR could not seem to hit anyone from deep, even though he never stopped trying. His passing was less than accurate throughout the game for the most part, but he made up for it with his defensive skills, which is the beauty of DDR: He might have a bad game in one respect, but if he does he'll make up for it on the other end.
Doni had a pretty calm game, only really fumbling one shot, and made a gread save getting laid out on Borriello, who was pretty dangerous at times cocaine or not, right in the 6 yarder and saving a 1-0 Genoa lead. The only other time I recall he was really tested was Matteo Paro's missile from outside the box which sent the framework wobbling. It appeared had the ball been on target to go in the net it would have hit Doni's hand, but in the same token it probably would've gone through his hand it was hit that hard.
Vucinic had difficulties in getting anybody and everybody from Genoa to stop either grabbing his shirt or punching him in the face. Same goes for a few people, and I was surprised at how often somebody would go down with a Genoa player on his shirt and play was kept up. It's one thing to hang on somebody. It's another to prevent them from doing shit and taking them down, twice in the box (though DDR was going to ground anyway on his bike kick). Ridiculous stuff.
The one thing I took from the match is that Roma should sometimes switch from "pretty" to "efective" in or around the penalty box, which they've become all too comfortable with. Sometimes the extra pass isn't necessary and it's best to just line up and fire. There was one instance in the first half when Mancini took a smooth ball on the right, maybe a couple yards to the right of the post, from Mirko with nobody between him and Rubinho and he tried to one time it back to a triple teamed Mirko. Didn't work. Best suggestion: Tone down the one-touch, line it up, shoot hard, shoot often.
Doni: Pretty good game, especially for getting off the plane from Brazil all of 24 hours earlier. Saved a goal on Borriello's shot from point blank. But most importantly, no real heart attacks. (Although a couple of those clearances were more Alexandra than Alexander.) 7
Old Man River: There is no stopping Panuccigol. TEN. @#$%ing TEN. 10 (For the whole week.)
Ferrari: He just looks totally uncomfortable out there at times, like he's really not sure what to do. Though he did play some solid D at times when called upon. Decent, just decent. 7
* - But he gets a negative gazillion for supermanning Panucci during the goal celebration.
Juan: Nothing spectacular but still good, and the one thing I noticed is he's a lot faster in beating attackers to loose balls than I thought. 7
Cassetti: Was all over the field at times, and did fairly well pushing the ball up the right side, including sending in a couple cheeky cross-passes (more and more I'm loving his offensive abilities). Good stuff, but nothing stellar, just like most of the back line. (Hey, we'll take it.) 7
Brighi: First of all, he's a lot more skilled than I thought. I thought he did well pairing with DDR in a two DM midfield as opposed to one involving the Chilean, which went a long way in helping to secure the clean sheet. Passing was a bit off at times, but nothing major to complain about. Certainly earning a few more spot starts in my opinion. 7.5
DDR: I'm almost ready (almost) to say De Rossi is the best defender on Roma. Seriously. Defensively he is flat-out awesome. Just awesome. The offense was there outside of some of his passing, and he nearly had the go-ahead goal by spiking his foot in the box in the second half. I have to say, I love seeing him get further up the field, and I think a pairing with Matteo and Alberto allow him to do that. 7.5
* - DDR was also thisclose to killing Leon, which I was increasingly on board with, and by the end of the game wanted to take a few hacks at him myself.
Tonetto: Still think he's more effective at LB, and did little on the wing, even though he rarely screwed up and took a couple decent shots. 6.5
Pizarro: Some of his abilities fit the role, some don't. Including taking a siesta in the lockerroom for much of the game. 6.5
Amantino: Seemed to, gasp, give a shit, which was a very welcomed change, although it doesn't seem to have a direct impact on his effectiveness. Had a couple moments where he needed to be more selfish instead of looking for the open teammate, and was Roma's chief free kick winner. Match that effort with a good day and you have one of te world's premier players. 7
Mirko: Had I been Mirko, I probably would've punched Cesare Bovo late in the game. The non-call on the forearm shivver would've had me good and riled up, and all the shirt tugging and late foul would've taken it over the top.
Not a great game, but his passing is improving and he had a hell of a chance on goal with his header. For a guy who's been known as a penalty box predator, he's done really well adapting to dropping back further near the half and accepting the ball. 7
The Oompa Loompa Brigade: Giuly was flat out ineffective and did the disappearing act with David, and Mauro looked like he came in ice-cold and in need of some serious warming up (could that be why TGIP hasn't played him? He needs to be given time in a blowout/easy win which haven't exactly been bountiful as of late?), but as always, leaves us wanting more. 6.5
TGIP: I liked that he switched it up a little bit with David up higher, even though DP and Matteo often changed places with David gathering the ball near the back line, but still, it was something. And even though Giuly was ineffective, I liked bringing on another attacking option when it was clear the team was struggling to get quality chances on goal. As well as leaving Mancini on later than usual. All good calls in my book for this game, and he made the most of a depleted squad. (Although this one mandatory defender at wing shit, unless it's Cicinho, can go anytime, thanks.) 7.5
Rambo v Matteo Ferrari: It was mostly Cassetti dealing with Leon, but I think even I could've dealt with him yesterday. Just horrible on both sides of the ball, and a few of those tackles were just ridiculous. A couple fringe moments on the attack but nothing really worth crapping your pants over. Good job by the D. Winner: Matteo & Friends
The Holy Trinity v Space: Giuly wasn't there, and I don't know if you've noticed, but he and Little David aren't exactly similar players (similar height and defensive abilities, bout it), and along with Max at LB, makes this kind of non-applicable. N/A
Vucinic v Vucigol: Didn't get all that many chances to finish, and on his best chance, he got it well on net and Rubinho had all he could do to save that and the rebound. But nonetheless, he never hit the back of the net. Winner: Vucinic
MOTM: Old Man River, for his entire week of work. Stellar stuff from the president of the local retirement home community.