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Cicinho & The Return of Juve

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romajuve.jpgRoma 1 - Frosinone 0

I've seen the highlights and read the reports, but I'm not putting much stock into this one at all. Obviously it's a disappointment when a team of Roma's stature doesn't demolish a team like Frosinone, but The Grand Imperial Poobah decided to throw out the JV squad for most of the game, and that's not going to get it done against a team that will probably have this as their biggest game of the season. And it's never a good thing when your offensive production is coming from Edgar "Burritos" Alvarez. As far as the rest of 'em go, one thing stuck out in my viewings of the highlights: the ability of the attackers to get to open space. With a wing depth chart consisting of Mancini, Ludovic Giuly, Mauro Esposito, Rodrigo Taddei and Burritos, Roma could probably enter the 4x100 relay in Beijing. However, they're going to need to improve in getting the ball on target (preferably where the goalkeeper ain't). Gianluca Curci played well, and seems to be showing steady improvement with the passing of each friendly. But like I said, it was basically a scrimmage, and it was more for team chemistry and a "minutes" standpoint than an actual litmus test. The real test is some team call You-vent-us.

Roma-Juve? It Can't Be.:

Calciopoli didn't just take away from the fans of the clubs who decided to eschew competitive integrity for selling their souls to the calcio devil. Other fans missed out too. Like the Giallorossi faithful who were unable to hate on Juve vehemently and vigorously while Roma demolished them from within. But alas, the wait is over. So hate on, my friends. Because the big bad wolf is back in town, except they're not so big and bad anymore. In fact, they're probably the equivalent of a man climbing back into the sack for the first time after his vasectomy. A little nervous, very apprehensive, and while he might still have some goods, it's just not the same as it was before. The arsenal is depleted and his best men have deserted him. The man is a shell of himself, as Juve is of their scudetto winning selves.

Getting away from vasectomies and back to the game, it's not going to be a true representation of the old matchups. The squad will be missing many an integral player, mainly in the midfield, and will be a strong test as to how deep the roster really is this season. The lineups:

ROMA: Doni, Panucci, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto, Aquilani, Barusso, Taddei, Giuly, Esposito, Totti. A disposizione: Curci, Julio Sergio, Cassetti, Andreolli, Freddi, Rosi, Brighi, Marsili, Nonda, Alvarez, Vucinic. All.: Spalletti
JUVENTUS: Buffon; Birindelli, Andrade, Criscito, Molinaro; Salihamidzic, Almiron, Thiago, Nedved; Del Piero, Trezeguet. A disposizione: Belardi, Boumsong, Blasi, Nocerino, Zanetti, Iaquinta, Zalayeta. All.: Ranieri

Great to see Doni back in the fold, and to get him some minutes with the squad before the Super Coppa on the 19th. The defense will more than likely be the starting back four throughout much of the year, at least until that Cicinho guy arrives. The two holding midfielders will be the most intriguing and most fun to watch. Both Alberto Aquilani and Ahmed Barusso are uber-talented and will be battling it out for a starting XI position over the next couple years - Aquilani obviously a lot sooner of the two. Plus, it's always fun to watch a guy we'll dub The Ghanaian Gladiator get stuck in on some Juve players. It looks as though Giuly will take over for Perrotta at trequartista, being flanked by Espo and Taddei; with some guy named Totti playing up top. I hear he's good and may or may not score a couple goals this season.

Juve's also missing a few key guys, most notably in that back line which would probably be enough for most Bianconeri fans to find the nearest bridge should they ever see that in the regular season (talented, yes - but this is Juve we're talking about, that's not going to cut it). Also, if you didn't know, Juve has been, well, not so good this preseason. Actually, they've sucked. Big time. And their return on the 26th will be more of a whimper than a roar.

This is a friendly, but we all know anything involving Juve and Roma is more than face value - even in the Post-Moggi era. So it may get a little physical, and the boys may put away their barcaloungers for the day and give it the old college try. It should be enough to not-so-subtly let Juve know, "You're just another Serie B champion. Welcome to Serie A, kid."

Prediction:
3-1 Roma
Goals: Totti, Giuly, Vucinic; Del Piero.

* - The game will be broadcast online. So, if you're like me, this will be your first chance to catch the boys in action this season. It's being shown on RAI Uno, which can be accessed by going here and then clicking on the Streamer One link. Click on the link Test One on the right hand menu and you should be all good. Just make sure you have up to date plug ins. I always seem to have that problem with Streamer One no matter what comp I'm using or how many updates I've DL'ed.

Your Daily Cicinho Update:

Can you smell that? It's starting to smell like victory. Now that Royston Drenthe has officially entered the Real equation, Cicinho is low man on the totem pole at the club and almost definitely on the out. The full back equation now has Sergio Ramos, Drenthe, Marcelo, Miguel Torres, Michel Salgado and then the ever present possibility of Dani Alves. Who may not be a logical purchase, but when has Real ever been logical?

Cicinho has given the move a thumbs up, saying:

“I have already spoken to my wife and my father,” he told ‘Il Romanista’ newspaper this weekend.

“If Roma reach an agreement with Real Madrid, then I am happy to go.”

Glad his wife is in the fold. However, that whole "Roma reaching an agreement with Real" thing does worry me. They are reportedly €3m apart in their valuations, and while for most teams €3m is a reachable compromise, for Roma it's like crossing the Atlantic in a dinghy with a toothpick as a paddle. Deals have fallen apart over much less. The next week preceding the Super Coppa will be big, and a strong indication as to whether or not the deal will get done, as I'm sure Rosella & Co. would like nothing more to unveil their new purchase in front of Moratti & his mercenaries. Judging by how badly The Grand Imperial Poobah wants Cicinho, the chances of this getting done by Friday are fairly decent.

And in case you were wondering regarding Liverpool's intrusion, Cicinho has given a big thumbs down to playing in the EPL. Apparently he listened to all of his compatriots who continually slam life in Britain and prefer the more aesthetic and serene destinations of Italia and the likes. But who wouldn't.

The Weekendish News & Notes:

I) Keivan Zarineh has gone on loan to Cisco Roma, where he will continue in his dream to become the next Luca @#$%in' Toni. This will allow the club to keep a close eye on him and maybe invite him over for slumber parties at Trigoria every once in a while. Also, Cisco has previously developed the likes of that same Toni character, as well as that Totti guy we keep hearing so much about.

My worry here is this: Paolo Di Canio also plays for Cisco. I don't want Roma's next Luca Toni being tainted by The Uber-Scumbag himself. The last thing we need is Zarineh to come back from loan with a portrait tattoo of Che Guevera on his ass while saluting The Grand Imperial Poobah with fascist gestures.

II) The Grand Imperial Poobah's main focus for right now is finding a "vice-Tonetto", which is looking less and less likely to be Francesco Modesto these days. Which is fine as long as they have a better option in mind. And I don't mean Daniele Prade.

III) Speaking of a vice-Tonetto, if Roma is seriously lusting after Asier Del Horno, Rosella may want to get her ass in gear, because he has another suitor: Lazio. Del Horno is my personal preference amongst the Valencia LB's, and not just because of that whole Moretti-Lazio homosexual lovefest thing. ADH is highly gifted and with a much higher ceiling, not to mention a quality fit to the Spalletti style of attacking. And someone who would do well in joining the Giallorossi party in the box that is The Roman Clusterfuck. If anyone can turn ADH into the player he was supposed to be when Roman Abramovich and Jose 'Not So Special Anymore' Mourinho picked him up a couple years ago, it's the Poobah. He could certainly wave his wand and weave some magic with this kid.

IV)
Just thought I'd actually give you some legit info about the fantasy league, which I failed to do the last time because I'm a nincompoop. So, here's the actual link to the site, as well as the English link, because once again, I'm a moron and I didn't realize they had it in English:

League Name: Roma Offside League (ID# 692)

password: spalletti (lower-case s)

I think I'm the Aquilaninho's or something - signed up to see what it was like then got locked in. Not exactly the best of names (or grammatically correct). And if you spend 25pts out of your 100pt budget on Antonio Di Natale you will be irrevocably booted from the league immediately.

Directions for the non-Italian speakers. Scratch that, Italian speakers too - if only for making sure to choose the Roma fan group at question #6. This league is a subdivision of that. The directions:

• Click Entra/Registrati in the center

• Agree to Yahoo's terms, conditions and a free colonoscopy performed by Cristiano Ronaldo & his little buddy (Si, accetto)

• On the next screen, at #1 fill in your team name, at #4 choose if you would like people to see your e-mail, at #5 it's asking you if you'd like Viagra spam, and at #6 choose Roma from the drop down list, click 'Continua'

'Crea Squadra'

• Next page click on the middle option, 'Iscriviti a un gruppo' to join the private group

• ID # gruppo is 692 and password is spalletti 'no capitalization'

Just ask if you have any questions.