Twas a good game. Twasn't a great game. Twasn't a bad game. Twas also an inefficient game. The scoreline in no way accurately represents the dominance Roma displayed throughout the game. How in the hell the Giallorossi only managed to put 2 goals behind Ciro Polito is well beyond me. Especially in the first half, when 6 or 7 to nil would've been a fair scoreline. Roma completely controlled the entire game, even without Jesus himself, and had an embarrassment of riches when it came to chances on goal. Except somebody left the finishing booties at home (I think it's about time we just named those finishing boots Totti, yeah?), and pretty much let Catania off the hook.
There was no clear man of the match, as everyone seemed to shine in spots and then disappear for others. The back line as a whole was very solid, especially Phabulous Philou; and it's nice to see Matteo Ferrari "string together" (last one was against Samp) a couple of very good games as he enters into the final 6 months of his contract as we enter into the second half of the campaign. Ludovicious Giulius probably could've had a couple hat tricks all by his lonesome, but still did well. The first goal was splendid, and filled one of the main responsibilities of the trequartista: pick up the scraps in the box and deposit.
Today also marked the extended return of King Alberto, except he was playing as trequartista, not in his familiar slot just beside Daniele De DDR. It wasn't vintage King, but as much is to be expected when he's been on the sidelines essentially since October, is playing out of position (he looked lost at times, you could tell), and has been spending long nights in front of the fire with his WAG (who was in the stands and looking quite lovely - I vote they get together a halftime show which is just spanning the stands for WAGs). Great to see him back on the field again. Warms the cockles of my cockles.
All in all, a solid performance from a backup squad which would've been enough to dispose of most every team in Serie A. Better finishing and we're talking about a recreation of last year's drubbing.
ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Cicinho, Ferrari, Mexes, Cassetti; De Rossi, Pizarro; Taddei (23' st Aquilani), Giuly (32' st Antunes), Mancini (43' st Esposito); Vucinic.
A disp.: Curci, Brighi, Della Penna, Unal.
CATANIA (4-3-3): Polito; Sardo, Silvestri, Terlizzi, Vargas; Colucci, Izco (18' st Edusei), Baiocco; Martinez (13' st Spinesi), Biagianti (18' st Tedesco), Mascara.
A disp.: Bizzarri, Gazzola, Llama, Millesi.
ARBITRO: Orsato di Schio (De Luca-Petrelli; 4° Pinzani)
MARCATORI: 8' Giuly, 57' De Rossi
NOTE: Ammoniti Mexes (R), De Rossi (R), Terlizzi (C), Baiocco (C), Giuly (R). Recupero 1' pt, 3' st.
Doni: Played splendidly once again, even though he wasn't tested all that much (and by all that much I mean he could've baked a casserole, penned The Great Brazilian Novel and fathered at least one, maybe two, children with all the down time he had during the game). And as Dhaw mentioned, there have been talks of contract extension with him recently as well. Solution: Give everybody on the team one year contracts and watch this team transform into the greatest of all time. 7.5
Cicinho: Due to the fact that my stream was a bit Vaseliney (yes, that's a word) as well as the fact that TGIP decided to throw 3/4 of The Oompa Loompa Brigade out onto the field to start things off, I kept having to double check whether or not it was him running all over the field today. I thought he had a very good game, and while his defensive skills will never be elite, he has such amazing close down speed that even if someone does beat him, they'll have to beat him at least 2 or 3 times before they get towards goal because he'll get back to challenge them again. As always, I think he deserves some more PT. I'm not holding my breath. 7
Ferrari: One of Matteo's best games of the campaign. Probably because he wasn't asked to do all that much. It was quite evident that the skill and class of Matteo and Philou was just a step above that of the Catania front line. Nearly every day, that's gonna be enough. 7
Philou: He was a physical beast. But it's not like he had much to do. 7
Cassetti: Played well. A solid game, and every now and again I'd notice him flying down that left hand flank like a madman with identity issues. He knows the way to my heart. 7
DDR: I'm not sure I noticed him until about 20 minutes passed, but he played your run of the mill DDR game. You know, being the best complete midfielder in Serie A. Scored a peno, too. (YOU LISTENING, DONADONI?) 7.5 (My MOTM)
* - I spent about 12 seconds after the fellas went up 2 contemplating whether or not I wanted Ferrari to tweak a hammy or something just so we could get a glimpse of DDR at CB. It's definitely an emergency situation type placement, but damn, he'd be an absolute monster. (I've mentioned to a few people before I think he's the best defender Roma has. I stand by that, with all apologies to Philou and Juan.)
Pizarro: Meh. 7
Mancini: After looking like the old Mancini over the last two games, he reverted to being not all that effective and looking bewildered at times. That one v one with Polito was just abysmal. I'm not sure if he was trying to chip him or just mishit the ball. But I think we can all come to one conclusion: The only person on this team who should be chipping dudes is Totti and only Totti. 6.5
Taddei: For someone supposedly suffering from the flu, played very well, and allowed Cicinho to get active in the offense. And he himself got quite active, ricocheting that first ball off the post whih found Lulu's foot, then winning the ball which led to the penalty. It's not Jordan in 97, but that's a helluva contribution with the flu. 7.5
Giuly: Had a very good game with the goal, but went on and off the radar screen as the game progressed, as he's apt to do. Ever present in the attack to start out the game, and I think we all realize now his best spot is right behind the striker. It's where you always like your nuisance - right in the middle of things. 7.5
Vucinic: He would still do well to borrow a pair of Totti's finishing booties, but it was more the other facets of Totti which he's picking up on. He has really improved with dropping back into the midfield and picking up the ball far from where a typical striker would. Picked up a couple shots from a little further out than we're accustomed to as well. He brings something new - unexpected - to the table nearly every game now. Evolution of Vuci. 7
Aquilani: He gets a pass. 30 minutes after 3-4 months out is no time to judge anything. N/A
Espo: Ditto for the pass, too little time. But does any think had that shot been placed in the back of the goal Espo would find himself on the pitch Wednesday? I do. N/A
iTunes: I'm all about the passes today. I really would've liked to see that shot he unleashed find its way through the labyrinth. I get the impression this kid starts thinking shot once he crosses the half. I love it. N/A
TGIP: His hands were tied. And as much as I wanted to see King Alberto in the XI, that was the fan in me speaking, not the logical person (who only comes around on holidays and special events anyway). Good call with the lineup, riding the hot hand that is Lulu, and getting the right guys onto the field with the subs. Not many options, but I feel one of his better games lately in the managerial sense. (I'd still like to see some Della Penna action.) 7.5
Cicinho v Juan Manuel Vargas: Cicinho all day, if only because Vargas spent nearly the entire day in his half, being forced to defend as Roma owned possession throughout. Considering how overmatched Catania looked for much of the game, it probably wasn't conducive to Vargas shining, but he certainly didn't look to be a "must buy". (Still take him gladly, though.) Winner: Cicinho
Back Four v Jorge Martinez, Gionatha Spinesi & Giuseppe Mascara: Spinesi didn't start and eventually replaced Martinez, but I'm not sure it would have mattered. The three were completely nonexistent by competitive standards for all intents and purposes. For a patchwork defense, essentially, Roma commanded this aspect of the game. Winner: Roman Four
Simone’s Body v Simone’s Feet: I think Giuly was the winner? Maybe?
Catania v The Ghost of Olimpico Past: The scoreline indicated otherwise, but I think we were another red card away from a complete bludgeoning. This scoreline could have been 5-0, 6-0, 7-0 easily considering the chances and dominance. Catania has to feel good walking away they only lost by two, but this was anything but a close game. Roma had 3 points from the opening whistle. Winner: Olimpico Past
I like Baldini. Maybe it was the kicking incident. Maybe it was the fact that the kicking incident occurred while he was rocking a jacket-less Canadian tuxedo. Maybe it's that he looks like a drunken C-list actor who plays the part of a dimwitted Italian mafioso to perfection. but I think it's the hair. What a complete mess. The man clearly has no sense of style, and he embraces it. Standing O.
Anyway, I like him even more now:
“We did not come here resigned to defeat, the fact is that Roma are a great squad,” said Coach Baldini.
“When they get the ball, they are the best in Europe, but thankfully Totti was missing today."
I think Arsene Wenger might have something to say about that best in Europe with the ball statement, but we get the point. There are very few teams in Europe with Roma's ability to produce crisp, fluid football. In fact, you can count them on one hand. Defending is the task. But it means things are working and headed in the right direction. In the beginning of the summer I felt this team was destined for greatness in 08-09 more than this year. The signings changed that, but I still think Roma as a whole will start hitting that peak next season, during the run up to the Champions League Final in Rome. Glorious times ahead.
* - Sampdoria Wednesday, which popped up out of nowhere (I thought there was another week before this and the Real games for some reason). And also, at some point a 5,000 word rant on why Internazionale FC is an embarrassment to Italian football. I'm not even kidding.