Sporting 2 - Roma 2
Roma was outplayed, outworked, outhustled and outdesired (I'm borrowing that from Woody Paige for the day). Then, they got not one but two deflections in the 90th minute to take a totally undeserved point back to the peninsula, also aiding their progression hopes. Even though it's about damn time Roma got their own goal in the final ten to sneak out a point, it's hard to say it was karma, because almost all of the goals Roma has conceded have been entirely their fault (Vujentus aside). This time, Sporting deserved the 3 points and they didn't deserve to have that ball lofted backwards into their own net. But that's life, and you move on. (With confetti everywhere...hip hip hooray for bogus goals.)
It's hard to single out players. They all looked like they were there for a colonoscopy from the cast of Queer Eye for the Straight Guy. Either that or this recent run of games has completely drained everybody due to the Deadly Duo of Spalletti's refusal to rotate and the slight case of the Bubonic Plague which has hit Trigoria recently. I'm banking on a little bit of both, because the other option, that Spal has lost the locker room, I don't even want to consider. Therefore, we move on...
ManYoo 12pts (+8)
Roma 7pts (+2)
Sporting 4pts (-1)
Dynamo Squadoosh Squared (-9)
I'm going to go out on a limb here and say Chanmester will probably make the knockout rounds. A win in either game for Roma sends them through. A draw with Manchester makes life a little easier, as it means Sporting will need a victory against Dynamo at home, to take a point at minimum in sunny England with Roma failing to et anything in Kiev. It looks decent at this point.
And the rest of the schedule:
Dinamo Kiev - Roma (27/11)
Manchester Utd - Sporting (27/11)
Roma - Manchester Utd (12/12)
Sporting Lisbona - Dinamo Kiev (12/12)
Sporting (4-3-1-2): Tiago; Abel, Tonel, Polga, Ronny; Veloso, Moutinho, Izmailov (43' st Pereirinha); Romagnoli; Djalò (17' st Vukcevic), Liedson.
A disposizione: Rui Fabricio, Paredes, Purovic, Farnerud, Gladstone.
Roma (4-2-3-1): Doni; Cicinho, Mexes (1' st Ferrari), Juan, Cassetti; De Rossi, Pizarro; Mancini, Perrotta (34' st Esposito), Giuly (45' st Brighi); Vucinic.
A disposizione: Curci, Antunes, Barusso, Pit.
Arbitro: De Bleeckere (BEL) (Leggi la scheda)
Guardalinee: Peter Hermans (BEL), Alex Verstraeten (BEL)
Quarto uomo: Johan Verbist (BEL)
MARCATORI: al 4' Cassetti, al 22' e al 19 st Liedson, 43' st Pizarro
NOTE: ammoniti al 28' Cicinho, al 6' st Cassetti, al 15' st Abel e al 35' st Veloso per gioco falloso, al 44' Vucinic per proteste.
Doni: Dismissing the fact that Buttahands Buttafuoco put in what should have been Sporting's first goal, he was pretty terrible. He has a few great games, makes us forget about how bad he can be, then pulls ridiculous stunts that has us all praying Spal will put Lulu Gulu (back) in net. I'm completely serious when I say I'm ready for Curci to start seeing major time. 6
Cicinho: Actually had a decent game on the attack, got down the flank well and was able to send in a few good crosses after beating his man 1 v 1. Still allows for a million man march down his defensive side, though. He and Taddei should form a fantastic partnership and work off each other's strengths well, while helping to lessen the impact of their respective weaknesses. (Soon, please) 7
Juan: His first poor showing in the shirt, and held a piece of responsibility in each goal. Not the Juan we have been used to thus far. 6
Ferrari: Actually played fairly well after coming on in probably his finest performance thus far this season, which says more about previous performances than the one in Portugal, of course. At its most basic level, a more than capable substitute performance due to injury. 7
Mexes: Lost at halftime due to Doni's boot in his mug, breaking a tooth. Before that, had his hand, or foot, in that second goal, and did nothing spectacular. Let's assume he can also use the international break coming up. Oh...wait. Abidal and Escude are out for France. Might he actually, gasp, play? Nah. 6.5
Cassetti: That goal was a piece of awesomeness, and for some reason you just knew that ball was winding up in the back of the net as he made his way beyond defenders towards the center of the pitch. Unfortunately, looked completely lost other times and had some sloppy moments in passing. But that individual goal eventually allowed everyone to breathe a bit easier, because without it, life wouldn't be so peachy for Roma's European run right now. 7
DDR: Not his best game, but probably also saved a goal with the sliding block in the box. Will be much better on Saturday. That simple. 6.5
Pizarro: A solid game, and has become Roma's resident deflection specialist (two goals, three deflections now). Hey, whatever it takes. 7
Mancini: Had a few moments, but wasn't able to create to his capabilities. Seemed to get the first few parts of the equation down, yet never figured the last part out. I think he just needs some time off to get his head on straight. Or he needs to be sat for a game or two. As much as we all know it's coming, his inconsistency never ceases to frustrate immensely. 6.5
Perrotta: Meh. 6.5
Giuly: Did he play? He did? Really? Coulda fooled me. 6
Mirko: He was able to get his space, but the balls were off and he could rarely get in a position to make an impact. It seemed as though every pass in his vicinity was either too short, too long or too far wide, and by the time he got to it - if he could - there was little he could do. But he did hustle when the Sporting back line was in possession, and forced them to make a couple deep turnovers. That can be huge. 7
Brighi & Espo: On less than 15 minutes apiece, so they had little impact, though Espo, once again, left us wanting to see more. Doubt we will.
TGIP: If it's not working, do something. It wasn't working, and he didn't do anything. Espo was brought on about 30 minutes too late, and Brighi could have been brought on earlier as well. Hell, how about Antunes. Or Barusso. Or Pit. Anything. Anything to get this team to give a shit. Increasingly the mentality of this team worsens, and leaves us with more questions than answers. Shake things up. Make "statement" moves. I have no problem sitting half the team in the stands for the Cagliari game and bringing up some kids from the Primavera. They'll probably give a shit. Even if it means jeopardizing points. Because in the long run, the team will drop more points due to lackadaisical effort and spunk than one stiff wakeup call in Sardinia. (Or Rome.)
However, that said, his hand was forced with the loss of Max in warmups (damn CL warmup injuries...), and played the right starting XI (assuming Espo will never be allowed in), just without the right mentality. 6.5
Roma v The Magical Forcefield Around Goal: Hey, how about the magical forcefield around Sporting's penalty box? How about you take care of that one first? Yeah? Winner: Magical forcefields all over the pitch.
Back 4 & Doni v Portuguese Set Pieces: Well, they beat the set pieces, although I think we all assumed the Lisboners were going to score that one they had in the 92nd minute. Luckily enough, they held it together well. Winner: Roma
AS Roma v The Second Half Meltdown: Way to go, they didn't have a second half meltdown. Their meltdown started about 15 minutes into the game. So at least that's something. Winner: Roma
Spalletti needs to take the entire group not called up by their country during the break to some remote cabin in the woods and have a spiritual session with lots of game tape, love notes to footy, s'mores and Kumbaya shit, to remind them they're supposed to be happy to play the game, and that they're being paid millions of euros to be a kid again. Play like you want to be there, and don't take it for granted. The team needs a complete mental makeover. I hope Spalletti can do that.