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The Curse Of Tuscany Rolls On

a300_600beluga3.jpgLivorno 1 - Roma 1

Christ was that frustrating. It felt like Roma completely owned that game, like they had set up furniture and started paying a mortgage in Livorno's half, only to come away with nothing productive. I blame this draw, which feels more like a loss (again), on 3 things:

1. Livorno leaving the team bus in the parking lot and instead hauling the team plane onto the pitch.
2. The crappy field conditions, on a pitch which may or may have not been complete slop even without the weather. This reminded me of when, in baseball, a groundball pitcher is going for the home team and they bring out the local fire department to hose down the infield pre-game. Except the gods watered this one. Assholes.
3. The utterly baffling 2nd half record of AS Roma. Try and explain this one to me: Since the derby on Halloween, they have scored 17 goals. A whole three have come in the second half. That's 17%. All year? 39 goals, 12 goals after the break. (30%)

How do you explain that? A few reasons I can see.
a) When they have a solid lead after the first half, which does happen fairly often, they're very happy to sit back and grind out a victory. Hasn't always worked, though.
b) Lack of fitness. At times it appears they're tired due the schedule, Spalletti loving to run players into the ground and/or injuries.
c) Poor use of substitutions and/or lineups.

I'll buy the first one, don't buy the second one, and buy the third one, mostly due to the substitutions. I really don't think the substitutions were the reason this game was lost, though I don't get what Mancini was doing coming off the pitch in the 55th minute. He wasn't winning any Golden Balls during the game but he is still one of your most gifted players, a guy who can pull goals out of his arse. Was Lulu Gulu, who was wholly ineffective, really that much more necessary on the pitch? Totti sub was fine, he wasn't having his finest day and the conditions were such that the chances of injury were increased. That'd just add injury to insult.

But what's going on with Cicinho? 42 minutes in the last month and 2 days. That's less than one half for those scoring at home. Is he sleeping with someone in the Spalletti family? He's certainly not vintage Cafu, but he is a very dynamic player and he at least makes things happen, something which Roma could use quite often. And for a team which struggles finding the back of the net, he's a guy who can score from the back line. They couldn't use that? There was little, if any, danger on the wings, knowing that Livorno's main attack was coming from Tavano and Tristan in the center, not necessarily out wide, which is the main concern when throwing Cicinho out on the pitch. When he's brought in he was put on the left? For what? Who knows.

As for the second half goals? Who is giving the halftime speeches? Helen Keller? Mind boggling stat. Knowing the massive letdown which comes with the halftime whistle, it's probably a combination of things, none of them good.

Want a game summary? Here it is:

Livorno Roma
Time of Possession 28% 72%
Shots (on Goal) 16(9) 20(6)

How the fuck do you have seventy-two percent possession and have one-third less shots on goal than the other team? Shoot the goddamn ball ON TARGET. How do you manage that? Seriously. The Yang-Mills theory is fucking child's play compared to this.

(All due praise to Livorno. I know.)

Box Score

LIVORNO (3-5-2): Amelia; Galante, Pavan (75' Rezaei), Grandoni; Balleri, De Vezze (69' Giannichedda), Pulzetti (86' Loviso), E.Filippini, Pasquale; Tavano, Tristan. A disposizione: De Lucia, Rossini, Diamanti, Bogdani. All. Camolese

ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Panucci, Ferrari, Juan, Tonetto (86' Cicinho); De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei, Giuly, Mancini (55' Vucinic); Totti (69' Esposito). A disposizione: Zotti, Mexes, Antunes, Barusso. All. Spalletti

Rizzoli di Bologna

4'pt De Rossi, 6' Tristan

NOTE: ammoniti Balleri, Taddei, Tristan.

Player Ratings

Typical Doni. A few fantastic saves, couldn't keep his hands on some others. Nice. 7.5

Decent showing, nothing spectacular. 7

Matteo wants to be payed like a starter while playing like an assbag. Just embarrassed by Tristan. I'm ready to put up the For Sale sign. 6

He and Ferrari were given fits all day from Tavano and Tristan. Had their asses saved by Doni a couple of times. 6.5

Tonetto: Is it me, or does his percentage of successful crosses seem to be dwindling? It appears like he's channeling his inner Oddo. 6.5

Played a quality game, did well on the goal and was almost hero for the day on the second. MOTM. 7.5

Slowing up the temp is nice if, you know, you actually do something. How many balls did he lose? 72? 6.5

I don't know. I just keep thinking about one spectacular Mancini moment which might have been prevented. ?

Giuly: To me, he was pretty invisible. That happens when you're a dwarf in a sea of red. 6.5

Back to earth we go. 6.5

Not his best game, I'd have to say. Human (Shocking, I know.)

Some quality chances, a nice double save from Amelia from what appears to be his preferred slot on the left hand side of the box. The angle on the other clear try was closed down well by Amelia, and you have to give him credit. I really don't blame Vuci for that. However, one of those three would have been nice. 7

Cicinho & Espo:
I'm not sure either of these guys are going to spend more than one season in the shirt. In fact, I'll go ahead and guess not.

TGIP: What is it in Tuscany? Cicinho should have been run out from the start and Mancini could have clearly been used in the event that he does what he does and had one moment of brilliance to take home 3 points somewhere after the 55th minute. You don't take that off the pitch with so much time on the clock. Especially not when you have an exhibition game coming up during the week. Or maybe he could've switched things up tactically considering Livorno had parked the team Airbus in front of the net. This is where limiting yourself to one style of play can really bite you in the ass. Once a team finds a way to counter it, the rest of the game is going to be up hill. I dunno. I really question him every 1 in 3 games now. (Still love him though.) 6.5

Key Matchups

None of them mattered. They could not stop bouncing passes off the wall and when they could get in on Amelia, it was always going to be a difficult task. As much as I want to hate Livorno for playing some serious team bus football, they did so necessarily and they did so very well, and that point is all theirs. It was the right call and they were even more dangerous on the other end in the form of Diego Tristan and Francesco Tavano than Roma when it came down to chances on goal.

It still appears as this team has fallen in love with the extra pass, trying to score the perfect goal instead of playing the percentages, playing for a rebound or such, which they would do well to try every now and again. Clearly their biggest advantage was through the air, as the lanes were clogged and thus vision limited. I would have liked to have seen the Pizza Man split out a little further to the flanks and send in his cross instead of continually bouncing passes off of (or to) the maroon jerseys. Does anybody think a nice target man would have done well here? Maybe, oh, I don't know, an Erjon Bogdani?

Frustrating game to watch, and I'm sure it was twice as frustrating to play. A clinic on stifling defensive play from the amaranti, the blueprint to containing this Roma team, and that's really all we can say. Let's hope Torino doesn't watch the game tape. If the games before this weekend's are any indication, we could be in for a very long 90 minutes next weekend.

However, the season is far from over. There are still many many minutes to be played. Let's hope the Primavera gets a run out on Wednesday and everybody gets a big rest up for the weekend.

* - Marco has highlights and his recap at the Livorno offside. Bastard.