First of all, I missed the second straight game in a row, which blows, but what can you do. Life happens. I downloaded the game, but only the first 39 minutes worked and I missed all the fun stuff, like the red card and the goals. For all intents and purposes, it was similar to the Siena game. Roma got the first goal, didn't really dominate, with neither team really pushing the envelope, and then put the game away with a second as time was running out. The world beaters that showed up for stretches against Inter and Palermo weren't there, but these are two mid-to-lower table teams. Roma doesn't break out the fine china unless the big boys come to supper.
I think the most important thing here is confidence going into both the Champions League and the 7 week gauntlet of calcio hell. Not only are they first, but they have yet to concede a goal this season, after throwing out a defense that was looking like Swiss cheese during the late summer. Not only that, but one that was playing with only two starters in their normal positions and missing the two biggest acquisitions of the summer until Juan made his full debut on Sunday. I think the 6-2 drubbing against Inter last spring did a lot to help the confidence of the squad, and helped them to realize that Old Trafford was an abomination, but the European media was never going to forget it. Now they can go into the Champions League with a different identity: the Serie A leaders who have yet to concede a goal and a squad ready to announce their presence with a thunderous bang. This isn't the same team from last March. Now everybody knows it, and the boys can act accordingly. I really feel like not conceding a goal is the most important thing to happen thus far this season. Especially standing in front of that Palermo firing squad for a half hour and coming out unscathed, and also with many of the big boys coming out flat and dropping points against lesser squads early.
As for the Reggina game, there were a few noteworthy observations:
• Juan wasn't fucking around when he said he wanted to come here and score goals. And here we were thinking he was joking around. I guess you can take the Brazilian out of Brazil, but you can't take Brazil out of the Brazilian.
Not only that, but it has taken one game (actually, about 12 minutes for me) to realize why The Grand Imperial Poobah was comfortable with Juan replacing Christian What's-His-Nuts. One of the most glaring attributes he brings is his smoothness. A calm and reassuring presence in the back, a good influence for Philou, who may or may not murder Pavel Nedved at some point this season. Not to mention someone who has easily replaced that other guy's passing abilities while providing more defensive ability. I think he may need the nickname J-Smooth.
And did anyone else notice he started out his Roma career by dropping his drawers? Losing your pants is almost always a good sign, trust me on this.
• I think the international break limited the continuity of the team, with so many of Roma's key players away. Especially for the Italian boys, as spending a week under the tutelage of Roberto Donadoni is enough to screw up anybody's game. The slick 1-2's and crisp passing seemed to progress accordingly as the game went on, and I actually started to wonder if having so many games in so few days after a break may actually turn out to be a good thing, especially starting out with their two easiest opponents in Reggina and Dynamo Kiev.'
• That's a very quiet two goals in the last two games for Il Capitano, mostly because they both came with less than 10 minutes to play. If he feels the need to defer to the other 9 outfielders for the first 80 and then come in to close up shop, I have no issues with that.
Anyway, not much to say about that game, a good 3 points, but I'm in full Champions League mode now.'
Brits Hate Serie A
Well, that's really the only excuse for the list they put out there. 4-4-2, a UK publication, has released its list of the world's Top 100 football players at this moment. Here's the list, courtesy of the suddenly friendly Liverpool Offside:
100. Shunsuke Nakamura (Celtic)
99. Alexandre Pato (AC Milan)
98. Maicon (Inter Milan)
97. Jamie Carragher (Liverpool)
96. Sergio Aguero (Atletico Madrid)
95. Nery Castillo (Shakhtar Donetsk)
94. Javier Macherano (Liverpool)
93. Adrian Mutu (Fiorentina)
92. Kim Kallstrom (Lyon)
91. Filippo Inzaghi (AC Milan)
90. Javier Zanetti (Inter Milan)
89. Eduardo Da Silva (Arsenal)
88. Fabio Quagliarelli (Udinese)
87. Diego Milito (Real Zaragoza)
86. Gabriel Milito (Barcelona)
85. Gary Neville (Manchester United)
84. Juninho Pernambucano (Lyon)
83. Rafael van der Vaart (Hamburg)
82. Robin Van Persie (Arsenal)
81. Samir Nasri (Marseille)
80. Ricardo Quaresma (Porto)
79. Carlos Puyol (Barcelona)
78. Nemanja Vidic (Manchester United)
77. Maxi Rodriguez (Atletico Madrid)
76. Philipp Lahm (Bayern Munich)
75. Gianluca Zambrotta (Barcelona)
74. Torsten Frings (Werder Bremen)
73. Pavel Nedved (Juventus)
72. Fredi Kanoute (Sevilla)
71. Kolo Toure (Arsenal)
70. Vicente (Valencia)
69. Diego Forlan (Atletico Madrid)
68. Michael Owen (Newcastle United)
67. William Gallas (Arsenal)
66. Ze Roberto (Bayern Munich)
65. Frank Ribery (Bayern Munich)
64. Andriy Shevchenko (Chelsea)
63. Patrick Viera (Inter Milan)
62. Diego (Werder Bremen)
61. Simao Sabrosa (Atletico Madrid)
60. Arjen Robben (Chelsea)
59. Robinho (Real Madrid)
58. Joe Cole (Chelsea)
57. Miroslav Klose (Bayern Munich)
56. Sergio Ramos (Real Madrid)
55. Luca Toni (Bayern Munich)
54. Alex (Chelsea)
53. Hernan Crespo (Inter Milan)
52. Owen Hargreaves (Manchester United)
51. Wesley Sneijder (Real Madrid)
50. Ronaldo (AC Milan)
49. David Silva (Valencia)
48. Andres Iniesta (Barcelona)
47. Dejan Stankovic (Inter Milan)
46. Clarence Seedorf (AC Milan)
45. Florent Malouda (Chelsea)
44. Carlos Tevez (Manchester United)
43. David Beckham (Los Angeles Galaxy)
42. Daniele De Rossi (AS Roma)
41. Michael Ballack (Chelsea)
40. Lucio (Bayern Munich)
39. David Suazo (Inter Milan)
38. Dimitar Berbatov (Tottenham Hotspur)
37. David Albelda (Valencia)
36. Alessandro Nesta (AC Milan)
35. Ricardo Carvalho (Chelsea)
34. Fernando Torres (Liverpool)
33. Cesc Fabregas (Arsenal)
32. Xavi Hernandes (Barcelona)
31. Juan Roman Riquelme (Villareal)
30. Iker Casillas (Real Madrid)
29. Ryan Giggs (Manchester United)
28. Paolo Maldini (AC Milan)
27. Ashley Cole (Chelsea)
26. Gino Gattuso (AC Milan)
25. Frank Lampard (Chelsea)
24. Rio Ferdinand (Manchester United)
23. Deco (Barcelona)
22. John Terry (Chelsea)
21. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Inter Milan)
20. Michael Essien (Chelsea)
19. David Villa (Valencia)
18. Francesco Totti (Roma)
17. Paul Scholes (Manchester United)
16. Roberto Ayala (Real Zaragoza)
15. Ruud van Nistelrooy (Real Madrid)
14. Andrea Pirlo (AC Milan)
13. Didier Drogba (Chelsea)
12. Daniel Alves (Sevilla)
11. Petr Cech (Chelsea)
10. Fabio Cannavaro (Real Madrid)
9. Gianluigi Buffon (Juventus)
8. Wayne Rooney (Manchester United)
7. Samuel Eto’o (Barcelona)
6. Steven Gerrard (Liverpool)
5. Lionel Messi (Barcelona)
4. Thierry Henry (Barcelona)
3. Ronaldinho (Barcelona)
2. Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
1. Kaka (AC Milan)
Well, it's quite obvious the people who came up with this list watch three things:
1. The Prem. Which is, like totally, the, duh, best league EVAH.
2. La Liga
3. Champions League
and nothing else. Even completely biased Milan fans will concede that Il Capitano was the far better player domestically last season, leading the league in both goals and assists. All the while taking those 26 goals and planting them at the top of the European mountain. Kaka was a monster in the CL, which to many is the competition that matters most, and is so damn talented it's fair to place him at numero uno right now - even if he does disappear a lot for someone who is supposed to be the best in the world, but whatever.
• Not having Francesco in the top 5 is basically claiming as a publication, "Hey, we're idiots." The guy comes off a horrific injury and leads Europe in goals, in his first real season as a lone striker. But hold on, the disclaimer was made, "form is temporary; class is permanent." Alright, how about the years of creative genius in midfield before transitioning to a goal-scoring machine? And below Paul Scholes? PAUL FUCKING SCHOLES? Either these guys are all from Manchester (possible) or have never seen a game in their lives (probable). Totti at 18 is just insulting their own intelligence.
• Where the hell is Philippe Mexes? Was Raymond Domenech a consultant on this? And after seeing so many pictures of Ray Ray in the media recently, can you really blame his wife for sleeping around with his players? Even if her vagina does start to get almost as big as her schnoz as a result.
• People are taking this whole Dani Alves thing waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too far. He's good. He's not that good.
• Zlatan should just swap places with the Grandma Shagger. I'm pretty sure the great majority of footy fans don't understand how much Zlatan does for his teams. The guy isn't an out-and-out striker.
• Andrea Pirlo is finally getting some due.
• Pato? What the fuck has he ever done besides look good in about 6 games in South America? How many players do that then fail miserably in Europe? Come on. Turn the hype machine way down, people. Jesus Christ of Nazareth reincarnated he is not, JCizzle wouldn't have that much acne.
• I did a double take on Roberto Ayala. Then I saw Paolo Maldini at 28 and realized they must've been having flashbacks from 1997. I almost expected to see Gazza in the top 5.
• PAUL FUCKING SCHOLES?!?!?!? Alright, I know he's good, but I still can't wrap my head around the statement "Paul Scholes is one of the 20 best players in the world." I just can't. Of course the whole better than Totti thing is a complete joke.
• I'm not going to discount Samuel Eto'o at 7, because when he's healthy, he is certainly deserving. So how absolutely disgusting is that Barcelona attacking line, considering those are pretty much all legit Top 10 players. That's gross. Barca fans should have a 50 year ban for complaining about anything. And I'm glad they held themselves back and kept Messi one notch below Henry. Although Titi did play in the Prem, which makes anyone The Best Thing In The History Of Ever. Duh. So maybe their motives were not as pure as they appear.
• Ze Roberto at 66...I just don't know what to say about that. I'm beginning to think FIFA's video game ranking come into play somehow.
• Samir Nasri will be top 15 within 18 months.
There are plenty of other comments, but those were the most pressing. I didn't really look much beyond the Top 50. In fact, I'm not sure I payed much attention past PAUL FUCKING SCHOLES at 17. Feel free to rip the list accordingly.
News & Fluffernutter
I) Jean-Michel Aulass is an idiot. He releases this quote,
“I travelled to Rome and met Mancini and his agent and they were both in favour of a move to Lyon,” Aulas told France Football.
“Mancini really wanted to come here, but Roma wouldn’t let him go. He believes that a deal could be done in January because he left us by saying he would see us soon.”
which is followed by this quote from Mancini,
“Lyon, Inter, Real Madrid and Liverpool wanted me, but I hope that I can find an agreement with the club to renew my deal,” he told Sky Sports Italia on Monday.
and 2+2=7. Typical.
II) Despite my unending love for King Alberto, I had actually been hoping David Pizarro would start the game against Reggina and get the majority of minutes. I know KA didn't get many minutes during qualifiers, but it would've been nice to see them split time while DP works out the kinks against Reggina, rather than Juve or Fiorentina.
III) I know I've touched on this before, but this whole Reggie Bush "Impossible Is Nothing" ad campaign has got me steaming. The whole "things were so bad because I didn't score a touchdown for 5 games wah wah wah" monologue is absurd. What is so impossible about being Reggie Bush? Huh? Huh? Everytime I see that commercial I want to throw a brick through the TV. Get a rare genetic disorder or something then come talk to me, jackass.
* - Apologies to the international brethren if you have no idea what I'm talking about. But here's a quick comparison: It would be like Zlatan filming an "Impossible Is Nothing" commercial because he's too tall. (I almost went with Messi here but he did actually have some significant health problems as a teenager, no dice there)
IV) Just so you don't forget and start getting comfortable, here are the next two weeks:
Sept 19 Dynamo Kiev
Sept 23 Juve
Sept 26 @ Fiorentina
Sept 30 Inter
Oct 2 @ ManYoo
* - I'll be back with the Dynamo Kiev preview and pertinent injury info later today/tonight.