We all knew it was coming, but it doesn't make it any less scary. It's the fourth - and thankfully last - trip for the Giallorossi to the cursed province of Tuscany this season. The last three times went a little something like this:
Only one of those can be really excused based on many factors, an one was just a disgusting meltdown which we can only hope never happens again. So as you can tell, logic would dictate we're looking at a draw, and likely one of the 1-1 variety. You know what? I'm not buying it. Too much has changed since even the last trip to Tuscany, and certain cogs of this team have started to run in sync - namely Mancini and Matteo Ferrari - while we've shepherded in the return of King Alberto.
Of course, Siena has been playing pretty well throughout the month of January, even though they've lost 2 of 3 games - but you know, that's what happens when you go up against Internazionale FC and their referees. Plus, they brought in Christian Rigano, who is a task all in his big ass lonesome self and scored a brace in his last game against the Giallorossi. Moreover, Siena has only 3 losses at home as opposed to one win and six draws - which is where that dastardly Tuscan draw becomes frightening. Roma may be in better position, but it will certainly be a fight.
I've heard from many people, some here, that Daniele Galloppa has looked fantastic this season and has really earned himself a long look from the hierarchy when it comes time to discussing his co-ownership in the summer. Given the status of the central midfield (read: stacked), I have my doubts about his immediate future in Rome (though trust me, I'd love to see him in the shirt), but it will still be interesting to get a look nonetheless. Lord knows if he's really progressing this far, this quickly - from what I've heard - then space can be made. Especially for a Roman. So Forza Galloppa.
* - Daniele also got his first U-21 call this week. Good signs.
1. Inter 50 (30)
2. Roma 45 (19)
3. Juventus (22)
18. Siena 19 (-9)
Last Serie A Five
Yeah, their losses have been misleading. Inter should've been a draw at worst and they spent the last 15 minutes of last weekend's game dominating 'Doria before before players in blue and white jerseys started going down like there was a sniper in the stands ('twas an embarrassing display). They put up a solid 3 goals against Palermo and two against Inter - which is the most they've given up this year (Livorno and Parma also did it in Serie A).
Just Juan, who reportedly may be back but I would bet the house against it. Nearly 100% chance of rain, away from home on an unknown pitch when they have guys who can fill in adequately. Not worth it.) But he should be back next weekend. Gilu Curci will likely also be out. Now that Ahmed and Marco are off doing their thing elsewhere, this section may get awful lonely. At least we hope.
Cassetti, Mexes, Ferrari, Tonetto;
Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini;
Could be a few options. I doubt Panucci starts in case they need him to backup in the middle. Considering TGIP's praise after the Samp game, Cicinho is looking more and more like a viable option for a start, not just The Dread Four Minute Cameo, but Marco has been phenomenal lately. Hard to sit him. Actually, seeing a right hand flank of Cicinho behind Cassetti wouldn't surprise me in the least, though I gather it'd be more likely were there a game in the middle of the week, which there ain't. Who knows what's going to happen from here on out with King Alberto and DP. Berto had that sexy, sexy goal in the first game, so maybe this could be just the time to bring his confidence to 100%. Other than that is should be pretty standard, with your usual late game subs.
Rossettini, Portanova, Loria, De Ceglie;
Vergassola, Codrea, Galloppa;
Totti v The World: It boggles the mind to commit such blasphemous heresy, but Francesco Totti has looked almost........human over the past two games. He's not - he's clearly the offspring of gods - but damn, it has almost looked otherwise since he came back from that little bout of the flu strain which dared attack Jesus. His movement was labored and intermittent and his touch was slightly unTotti. He is obviously allowed a game or two like this - in fact many, many more - but the revival of the old Totti, and I don't even mean the 27 year old version, I mean like pre-winter break version, means Roma probably plows through Siena like Mudingayi plows through Bianchi in the showers. (Which would be like, what, 8-0? 9-0?) Pray for Jesus.
Workrate v Execution: It seems like everyone is fully playing their arses off in an effort to catch up with Intermerda, but that's not always enough. Lately, that final movement has been missing; whether it be a final pass into space, releasing from a defender at the precise moment or putting a shot on net. Workrate is butterflies and cupcakes and unicorns, but they need to become more clinical in the final third and string the play together until the very end.
Philou & Ferrari v The Aged Wonders Up Top: Alright, maybe Massimo Maccarone isn't "aged", but the rest of them are. The Lichtenstein Legend, Mario Frick, is 33, Tomas Locatelli, who'll drop in behind the strikers, is 31, and Christian Rigano is 33. Rigano hasn't made his debut yet, but oldboy Daniele Corvia, who has been coming in as a sub at some point lately, was just sent on loan to Lecce. Therefore, I bet we'll see the brute that is Rigano at some point, and he can be a handful. This will probably be the toughest matchup for Roma, though I think they can take care of business. Roma has still only conceded 6 goals away from home this season, which is tied for bestest in Serie A. And let's hope Matteo's form continues to sparkle...
Riding Out The Contract Boys: I'd like to believe that Mancini and Matteo have just righted the ship and this is what we'll see from them for the rest of the season and beyond, but the cynic and slightly logical person in me says that may not be case. Athletes play because they love the game, but they also play for contracts. Just ride this wave as long as possible, until they ink a new deal, and then see what happens. Whatever it is, both players have become integral to the success of this team and both provide two extra important facets away from home: defensive stability and the magical ability to create a goal from nowhere. Forza Matteo & Forza Amantino.
Daniele De Rossi v Daniele Galloppa: Just for fun, the two Roman born central mids named Daniele matching up versus one another (kinda).
I've seen Siena play all of twice, and the Roma game was one of 3 I've missed all season, so I'm no good matchup wise on that aspect. (Here I am, figuring the previews are going to be one billion times easier because we've seen the teams before and know how they matchup, and I miss the Palermo preview due to illness and missed the Siena/Reggina games to start the season. Obviously something needs to be done about my life.) Therefore.........pppppfffffffffffffffttttttt. I dunno. One of those Siena games was last week when I fell asleep around the 15 minute mark and woke up with 20 minutes left. So you guys probably know much more than I.
However, I'm feeling a big partnership this game between Mancini and Totti. Amantino has been en fuego as of late and let's face it, Francesco's performances have been complete flukes. He's going to become God's gift to calcio again before long and he'll start adding to that ridiculous goals/game ratio like a man possessed. I'm feeling this game, as Il Capitano takes the curse of Tuscany on his shoulders and drives the team to glory.
Siena's defense - to put it politely - doesn't worry me, unless we're talking about Simone Loria scoring silly, silly goals. I think they'll have enough belief after the last 3 performances and being at home that they won't feel the need to pull a Livorno and haul the team plane out onto the pitch. They've scored 13 goals at home - 3rd among teams outside of a European spot right now - and of their 22 total goals this season, 5 have come this month. But it won't be enough. They'll make a game of it early, but after about 10 minutes Roma's class will begin to shine through and they'll head towards a well fought victory.
Score: 3-1 Roma
Goals: Totti (17), Mancini (38), Galloppa (44), Totti (67)
Mancini "Give-A-Shit-Factor": 9.5
When: 1500 CET, 0900 EST
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi
Forecast: 8°C, 90% chance of rain.