It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. The Roma that showed up in the first half hour looked like world beaters. Everybody was playing their part. Juventus wasn't getting set up deep in Roma's end. The passing was crisp and composed. The balls were kept on the ground where the defense couldn't reach and subsequently opened up spaces for runs. Gigi Buffon was constantly on his toes. Mirko Vucinic was giving us glimpses of why he is supposed to be one of the best strikers in Europe one of these days. Then, it all hit the fan. And I don't mean lightly. It was a big ass fan and they were just heaving it up there, seeing how far the manure would fly. After dominating thoroughly, Roma collapsed in a heap. The back line just started to disappear like Yasmine Bleeth's career right before our very eyes. There was nobody there to control the midfield and they weren't able to penetrate Juve's back line the way they were able to in the first half. Basically, they started sucking like Juve has this summer.
However, it's not all that bad. Most of the squad was missing, and Roma brought out the JV squad, sprinkled with some varsity big wigs in for a cameo, for yesterday's game. Missing from the starting XI were: Mancini, Daniele De Rossi, Simone Perrotta, David Pizarro and Juan; along with Marco Andreolli, Matteo Ferrari and the possibility of that Cicinho guy - who will be in Rome eventually. The back line of Marco Cassetti, Philippe Mexes, Christian Panucci and Max Tonetto was nothing short of porous - even if Philippe did play fairly well. Panucci was being played out of position at CB, and spent a little too much time drifting from the CB's responsibilities. Men were simply going unmarked, which is pretty much unacceptable when you have the likes of David Trezeguet and Vincenzo Iaquinta - two out and out goal poachers - hanging their hammocks in front of your keeper. Obviously Juan, or even Ferrari, would have made a great difference here, and one can only hope we will never see this back line again this year. Unless, of course, something drastic happens like Juan loses a leg and Matteo dies. Mexes is certainly not a worry, he had some great (vicious) tackles and some near fights - which I'll expect a lot of next year - but he really needs time to form a partnership with Juan.
The two holders, Alberto Aquilani and Matteo Brighi, seemed to push up a lot as a pair, which really illustrated how much the squad really needs De Rossi (who should be healthy enough in time for the Super Coppa). Brighi didn't play poorly, but he didn't play exceptionally well either. In fact, to me, he was largely invisible. Although I will say watching the game on StreamerOne was like watching the game with a film of Vaseline over the computer screen. Brighi could've been Shaquille O'Neal and I wouldn't have known the difference. Same goes for pretty much everyone else on the squad, I was basically going by positions and not much else. Kind of like Roberto Mancini's coaching methods.
Of course Doni and Gianluca Curci were no help. Doni gets a flyer because he's be sitting on a beach naked in Rio for the last month and the only shots he's been thinking about taking are the ones that made him say "Juan is like Kaka." Curci, well, I don't know what to say. The kid needs to suck it up, go out on loan, allow like 16,000 goals for Catania or someone else this year and come back 5x the keeper. It wasn't all his fault, but he needs some time to mature and gain some experience taking shots in front of a bad defense if he really wants to earn his title as the heir to Gigi Buffon's throne. Because right now, he isn't even the heir to the throne in Gigi's villa.
There were some good aspects though. Vuci was very impressive on the left flank and scored a striker-ish goal, despite being out of position. Although at this point we might be able to consider LW his secondary position, because it seems like that's where The Grand Imperial Poobah envisions him for the upcoming season. Totti was the creative force we've all come to take for granted these last ump-teen years, and that back/sideheel was nothing short of spectacular. I think we're okay in saying he's not going to be a worry this season. Basically, everyone played awesome in the first half hour. Then they sucked. Period.
For anyone whining about the sale of Chivu, don't bring that crap in here. It'll get swatted away like Dikembe Mutumbo back home in bed in the Congo without a mosquito net. Roma was missing 3 out of their top 4 CB's and was playing a largely attack minded lineup. Although considering it was a preseason game he probably would've scored a hat trick, assisted in giving birth to a child in the stands and cured AIDS before half time. Chivu is not the answer (see: Inter 2 - AZ Alkmaar 4).
Another possibly good aspect is this: Rosella is a (very) proud woman, how happy do you think she was to see the despised Juventus kick around her boys in the second half? I'd think she was perturbed to say the least. Maybe this will be the incentive she needed to cancel that custom Louis Vuitton handbag with Prade's portrait on it and spend the cash on some defensive reinforcements. This was embarrassing for her and her club, and it came at the hands of one of their most hated adversaries. Let's hope she'll fork over the cash without counting the lira coin by coin now.
* - Just so you know, I'm an optimist; but if Inter slaughters Roma next weekend I will be kicking in the panic button like Jean-Claude van Damme on an 8 ball. This week is fine, but this preseason has been, well, fucking terrible.
Your Daily Cicinho Update:
"A matter of hours" according to Spanish newspaper Marca. Always nice to hear, but I'm not sure a) how reliable Marca is, or b) what a matter of hours means. If you're referring to a matter of hours in Real's sense, it would mean today. If you're referring to a matter of hours in Rosella's world, we'll be better off waiting for world peace. Still, it's looking more and more inevitable no matter how you look at things, and the sooner the better. They really need to shore up this back line as quickly as possible and start taking care of extensions ASAP. A practice of most sports teams is not to discuss extensions with players during the seaso; because the negotiations are a lot of "this is why we don't think you're as good as you think you are and why we only want to give you this much money, which is much less than you're asking." Which can make players very grumpy and take them off their game. So the sooner Cicinho and the LB position is taken care of, the better.
The Sunday Finest:
I) The Wind logos were on the kits, and unfortunately they were in the actual Wind logo colors. Bleh. Not a fan at all. But if that €6m Wind is stumping up goes towards a stud fullback, then whatever. Put up some fuschia and periwinkle blue for all I care.
II) What's the over/under on Philou's card total for this year? I say 18.5, and I'm taking the over. Two early showers - one straight red, and one for two yellows. The straight red for going into Daniel-San Karate Kid mode upside Pavel Nedved's dome in October. Then the second yellow for going studs up on Luis Figo, sending him to rot in Qatar prematurely (you know he will, scumbag mercenary that he is).
III) No Danny Szetela news is good news.
IV) My highlight of the game yesterday: Ludovic Giuly going up for headers. If Roma fails to win a single point this year, at least I know I'll have something to look forward to.
V) Valencia, after missing out on Kim Kallstrom, is ready to make a €10m offer for Alberto Aquilani.
VI) Aleandro Rosi is becoming Matteo Brighi Jr. Jr. Now Chievo wants in on the fun and would like to drag him down to Serie B with them. Livorno is also stalking him slightly, and Udinese's name has popped up once or twice - in a moment of complete madness from Pietro Leonardi. The kid would do well to get some serious Serie A starting time, but one of these days he's going to be ready and surprise everyone by pushing his way higher and higher up the depth chart towards that starting XI (not now, but one of these days). And not by sleeping with Rosella, either. Kid's good.
VII) Sven Goren Eriksson has smelt blood in the water and has come to take a look-see if it's appetizing. His Italian Transfer Target For The Day is now Matteo Ferrari, presumably due to the chasm in extension talks between Matt and the club. You know, that whole "get paid like a starter without being a starter" thing. This one pushes the envelope a bit further though, because now it's about playing time; obviously an appealing proposition to Ferrari as he would like a chance at making it back to the Azzurri, and he's not getting any younger (28).
The offer is reportedly €6m, which is probably fair for a second-stringer coming in to the last year of his contract. But at this point it's somewhat doubtful that The Grand Imperial Poobah will want to let him go. He rates him highly and the last thing he needs is to integrate more defenders into his back line. And if Juan should unexpectedly fall flat on his face, he'd like to have somebody back there he can trust - Marco Andreolli isn't there yet. It's probably a little more legit than we think, but I don't think Matteo is going anywhere unless there really is no hope for an extension.
VIII) Francesco Modesto Alert:
Roma is interested.
Thank You, Captain Obvious.