In the first official game of the Serie A season, Roma took home the Super Coppa trophy from the hands of Inter at the San Siro once again. That makes it 3 out of the last 4 games, and the last 3 if you count games Roma actually needed to show up at the stadium for. The goal was courtesy of Daniele De Rossi on a PK after Totti was taken down (softly - according to some) a few yards inside the box. Despite the close scoreline, the majority of the game was dominated by Roma and there is little question as to who was the deserving victor.
I started out using TVAnts and it decided it needed to buffer every 12 seconds - which was highly annoying and completely useless - so I missed the first 15 minutes. During which Ludovic Giuly missed his first - of a few - sitter of the game. In the 22nd minute, David Suazo absolutely blew by Max Tonetto, after which Max had no choice but to commit a "professional" foul and pick up a yellow. That whole "blowing by" thing David made a habit of during the game. I think he might score a couple goals this year (which should be in a Roma kit if not for Absent-minded Rosella and Big Bucks Moratti, but I digress).
About ten minutes later we had our first mini-scurmish of the season after Christian Panucci went in elbows first on Nicholas Burdisso, whose nose obviously has an invisible bullseye on it. Dejan Stankovic took the most exception to this, but was calmed down by Roma's resident voice of reason, Mirko Vucinic. Marco Materazzi decided to pay Roma back by giving Alberto Aquilani a stiff shoulder on his birthday. At this point you could have told me I was watching the Prem and I would have believed you.
Only a short time later Suazo blew by Philippe Mexes and was then tackled from behind by the invisible man. Apparently Suazo got ready for the next chapter of his Inter career by watching Cristiano Ronaldo and Adriano videos. I suppose the next step is becoming an alcoholic who wears women's clothing. Or just become Francesco Coco. Back in the game, Philou took obvious exception to this by taking a page out of his buddy Tony Parker's book by taking a charge in the lane. However, Philou didn't get his feet set in time and he was whistled for the foul which resulted in an ineffective free kick (as you may or may not have been able to tell by the scoreline).
The second half started out with Inter taking control really for the first time in the match. Do you suppose Roberto Mancini's halftime speech really inspired his mercenaries? Naaaah. Giuly is an equal opportunity sitter-misser and he started off the second half as he did the first by missing the entire goal mouth. Basically, he crawled into bed with a drunken Paris Hilton and wound up watching "Rock of Love" all night. Shoddy performance to say the least.
Old boy Olivier Dacourt took Francesco Totti down from behind, resulting in a free kick outside the box. Taddei returned the favor by getting Cristian Chivu in a half nelson and taking him down on the touchline. It was a lovely reunion of Giallorossi of past and present. Vince McMahon would be proud. Then Marco Materazzi went all Marco Materazzi and kneed Totti in the ass in an obvious moment of homoerotic lust, as I'm pretty sure Francesco does not have a sister. Totti stayed down for awhile but got back up with a big bruise on his ass. Hopefully Ilary was watching the game, or there may be some serious questions for Francesco to answer when he gets home.
Mancini got up and stretched then sat back down. Which got everybody all excited, then he just left us hanging. We'll call this phenomena "Giallorosso balls". Taddei made a couple very good crosses into the middle, one where Chivu decided to latch onto Daniele De Rossi and take him down with him. Suazo had obviously been taking lessons from Lulu Gulu and decided to miss a header from 6 yards out directly in front of the center of goal without a man on him. Good stuff.
Zlatan did what Zlatan does and made everyone miss before setting up Loo-ish Fee-goh for a breakaway, calmly saved by an on-rushing Doni. Figo circa 2001 scores that. Now? Just a little more evident he should be in Qatar or joining Beckham stateside in the Major League Sideshow.
Here's where it gets interesting. Simone Perrotta is shown straight red...before he even enters the game. Apparently the 4th official is afflicted with Napolon's manhood complex and took extreme exception to Simone's comment that "you're losing the game for us", or something of that nature. I'd assume a few choice words were thrown in; either that or he referred to the whore that is the 4th official's sister. Whatever happened, it was bullshit to say the least and if a ref can't take some constructive criticism then he has no business holding the job. Where's Pierluigi when you need him? Even Inter fans have noticed the Nerazzurri had a 12th man last night. Unfortunately, they also had a 13th.
So instead of Simone we got The Matteo Brighi Show, which has me largely indifferent on the lad thus far. He hasn't failed miserably, but he hasn't sparkled either. He's just kind of there. Suazo, who was all over the place, decided to shoot from distance and nearly took out an old woman in the third deck. Everybody knows I was a big Suazo fan, but I've never been fearful when he's lined up outside the box. When his strikes are good they're good. But much more often than not he couldn't hit the team bus while sitting in the driver seat. Mexes got jealous of all the attention Aquilani got for his rabona in the Milan game last year and tried the same thing. Except this time it didn't result in a spectacular goal. Just a counter-attack.
Il Capitano took the ball out on the left and started to dribble towards the box. About two yards in he feinted left and pushed the ball to the right past Burdisso's leg, who thought it would be prudent to stick his leg all the way across Totti's body and take him down in the box, resulting in a penalty (characterized by Inter homers as "soft"....bullshit). De Rossi lined up to take the penalty and powered it past Julio Cesar, who guessed right, but couldn't get there fast enough. Totti didn't take the penalty because he said he felt a cramp, but it's typically good practice to let somebody else take the PK when you're the one who was fouled (unless you're Florent Malouda, aka "King of the Invisible Penalty").
A little while after the goal De Rossi was taken down hard and stretchered off, and then I paged my cardiologist. Luckily for everyone he was back on in a minute. Towards the end of the game Totti decided to take matters upon himself and proceeded to run through Inter's defense singlehandedly before putting the cherry on top putting a back heel over the top of Materazzi's head. Spectacular run, didn't result in much though. And after four added minutes the game was over.
Pseudo-Analysis & Awards:
Didn't realize how long that was getting, so we'll keep things brief here.
Men of the Match: Daniele De Rossi & Alberto Aquilani
They commanded the midfield admirably, and more than contributed at both ends of the pitch as well. One of the keys to the defensive improvement this week was Daniele and Alberto filling holes and clogging lanes in the Roma end, not allowing Inter players to get free or get much space and/or time on the ball. Neither were able to really unleash their patented Howitzer's, but they will eventually. We all know this is Roma's future. But it looks like it may also be the present. The frightening part? Daniele is 24 & Alberto is 23. Europe beware.
* - I dare you to tell Daniele he didn't get MOTM.....
Legend in the Making Award*: Mirko Vucinic
Vuci started off brilliantly then somewhat disappeared for parts of the match, not unlike that Mancini guy he was filling in for. If he can find some consistency throughout 90 minutes Roma just picked up that world-class winger. He seems to have all the abilities to be a dynamic, cut inside and shoot winger. Who the hell knew? The Grand Imperial Poobah did, that's who.
* - Stolen award name, thanks to RS.
What The @#$% Just Happened? Award: Simone Perrotta
What Sport Am I Playing Again? Award: Philippe Mexes
More and more Philippe is starting to remind me of Bruce Bowen, which is a very good thing. And that would make Pavel Nedved his Ray Allen.
The "What A Difference A Week Makes" Award: Christian Panucci
Whether it was a product of DDR being back in the lineup or Christian's individual improvement, the positioning across central defense was enormously improved. The back four didn't resemble Swiss cheese as we (alright, I) thought it would. I'm sure everybody can't wait to get Juan & Matteo Ferrari back, but the defense doesn't look as dire as it did last weekend (even minus that Cicinho guy).
Defense: Better than expected, although Doni did put in his fair share of work. It seemed almost inevitable at one point that Suazo would put one in the back of the net, but Roma kept a clean sheet against possibly the best strike partnership in Serie A. That's no small feat.
Midfield: Despite the fact that Inter was playing with 19 defensive players until Fee-goh came on, De Rossi and Aquilani were in lock down mode. The defense was great but the passes were also crisp and on target. The midfield was Roma's and allowed them to control the majority of the game. There was a lapse for about 15-20 minutes to start the second half, but a very good performance all around.
Attack: Despite Roberto Mancini's insistence upon playing 12 centrally based defenders/defensive mids, Roma was able to make their way through and get some quality chances on goal. The problem is going to be finishing, and I'm not referring to Lulu Gulu. Totti will get his goals, but there needs to be better finishing within the box. It's not exclusive to this game, either. It seems to be a common theme throughout the preseason, and though Mancini will help, it's not as though he's going to score 15. Hopefully it's just a case of needing to hit full form and full stride, so the team will be knocking 'em down with regularity shortly.
Inter: Enjoy the tactical genius that is Roberto Mancini. That is all.
Chivu: Good thing Chivu went to Inter to win all those trophies.
De Rossi Penalty:
First Half Highlights:
Second Half Highlights:
(Courtesy of The Tuna)
* - News & stuff later today, and if Cicinho is made official be assured I'll be all over it. If I'm around.