Il Grande Torino is making its most glorious return against Roma and only Roma, or so it seems. The draw was bad enough, especially when the granata would've won that game had David Di Michele not gone into Grand Mal seizure mode every time he got a whiff of the goal, but then they had to go and embarrass the defending champs en route to a commanding 3-1 lead in the Coppa, and that is where we stand today. Who saw this from Torino, a team which Roma should match up well against, even away from home?
I'm still, for some odd reason, confident going into this game. As Juventus proved yesterday they're still buying off refs a lead in the Coppa can mean next to nothing when class outweighs form. And Torino lost to Livorno over the weekend, which means Roma should wipe the floor with em, right?
The Grand Imperial Poobah means business, and I expect we'll see all the big guns shined and ready to be unleashed (and yes, this means King Alberto). They could use both a win and some match fitness heading into a tougher-than-expected game over the weekend against Catania, who appear to be a much better side than last season's drubbing would indicate. Actually, they're pretty damn decent - every other week, which I suppose bodes well for Roma last weekend after yet another questionable penalty call gave the jailbirds an undeserved point.
A fully healthy Roma - finally - heading up against a not so healthy Torino? I think they like their chances.
BERTAGNOLI Julio Sergio
DE ROSSI Daniele
HOLY SHIT MARCO ANDREOLLI IS ALIVE!!!!!!!
Now that that's over, as you can see, none of the kiddies made the squad.
Portieri: Sereni, Fontana.
Difensori: Comotto, Motta, Natali, Dellafiore, Di Loreto, Lanna, Benedetti
Centrocampisti: Corini, Barone, Lazetic, Grella, Zanetti, Bottone, Nitride
Attaccanti: Recoba, Oguro, Di Michele, Bjelanovic, Comi
(Hint: There's a pretty big name missing from that list.)
Wait for it...wait for it....wait for it..........
It's been awhile, huh? (Well, Barusso is still back home in Ghana, but he's not on a trainer's table, which is a minor miracle for this squad.)
Alessandro Rosina is out, and despite his form, that is huge.
Panucci, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto;
De Rossi, Aquilani;
Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini;
Curci or Doni? Unless the kid is truly going out on loan - halfway through January and nothings seems close to fruition - it's gotta be him. Kid's gotta feel like Spal has an ounce of confidence in him, even if he doesn't. Panucci is out (along with Max) over the weekend so he'll probably get the nod over Cicinho seeing as he'll get the spot this weekend. We assume, if TGIP taps Cassetti and iTunes he'll wake up Sunday morning with a horse's head next to him in bed. (Wait, this isn't Sicily....nm.) Ferrari? Maybe? They get a midweek break next weekend before the schedule comes back around, so I'm not sure they need to rest any CBs beforehand. Lotsa questions, but I can almost guarantee a team put out with the intentions of winning the game.
The big question: is The King ready for a start? I'll bet he is. Praise the heavens.
Commotto, Dellafiore, Di Loreto, Lanna;
Lazetic, Corini, Grella, Barone;
No clue, a lot of their parts are interchangeable.
Back Line & Keeps v Torino: This one is huge, and may be the only key matchup worth mentioning because one folly and this game transitions to mission impossible (just much better because it doesn't include Tom Cruise). They can obviously score three goals with ease, but keeping it at two is nice. Less is more. Especially regarding STDs. Write that down. (I'm looking at you, Marco Borriello.)
Mancini v Mancini: Contract or no contract, he's a difference maker, and before this year probably The Difference Maker (until Alberto Aquilani went from superprospect to having grown men lose sleep thinking about his groin overnight). A performance like the one in Bergamo means two goals are not just possible, but likely. (And a nice, fat contract in a couple weeks. )
Alvaro @#$%ing Recoba v Philou/Juan/Ferrari/Andreolli(!): How they allowed the biggest waste of talent in eons to score 2 goals last time out is beyond me. Seriously, can we not allow a guy still owned by Inter to knock Roma out of a tournament? Please? At least do it for my sanity, which wanes with every passing week during the season. (I know I'm not alone.) Close him down. Yeah?
The weather is going to suck again, which is wonderful, but I think Roma has the upper hand going into this game. Rosinaldo is still Rosinaldo and that's a huge blow, whether Torino puts out their best lineup or not. Plus, you're looking at a team which has consistently looked better the second game after a break:
9/16 2-0 Reggina
9/19 2-0 Dynamo
10/20 4-4 Napoli
10/23 2-1 Sporting
11/24 1-0 Genoa
11/27 4-1 Dynamo
Not all were wonderful, but certainly better than the game before. (Yeah, they looked good against Napoli, but 4 goals are still 4 goals.) Considering the weather, I'm looking at a performance reminiscent to the one they put out in Kiev, with Totti and Mancini recreating the above pic while firing on all cylinders, and having Gilmar Velov lobbying for a 30m buyout when the halftime whistle arrives.
Score: 3-0 Roma
Goals: Mancini (17), Cicinho (28), Totti (61)
Mancini "Give-A-Shit-Factor": 9
King Alberto Sighting: 0 (Or is it 1? Either.)
When: 2045 CET, 1445 EST
Where: Stadio Olimpico
Forecast: 10°C, rain during the day, possible at night as well.