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Halfway To Being Halfway There

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manciniohmy.jpgRoma 2 - Real 1

For the first time in I don't know how long, as the game wound down, I was thinking to myself "please please please pleeeeease blow the whistle....pleeeeeeease". It was that type of affair. A good victory for the boys, but one which was mentally, emotionally and physically exhausting - and I'm just talking about the fans. It still leaves a lot of work to be done at the Bernabeu in a few weeks. By no means is this a "cushion".

After Raul scored 8 minutes into the game and Ruud van NistelIfinishedsecondtoTottiagain had a goal called back for offsides, if you weren't think about a certain CL scoreline, well, you're lying through that massive gap in your teeth, Pinocchio. But somehow, someway, that managed to be the extent of the damage, and hearts were racing for 90 minutes for no good reason - because they were going to win all along (duh).

There was one story going in, and there's one story going out: Daniele De Rossi. It was MJ against the Jazz in 1998 all over again, with DDR taking on and taking out any and all comers. Daniele is shortlisting himself for title as not just the best midfielder in Italy, but also Europe. That type of performance after being questionable going into the game was nothing short of legendary, and more than just a glimmer of hope for the future. It will be a sad, sad day when Francesco Totti retires, but the future of the Giallorossi will be just fine with Daniele De Rossi leading la magica.

Speaking of Totti (I feel like it's almost sacrilegiousto say "speaking of Totti"), he turned in a much better performance, although it only came in flashes. His ball on Mancini's goal was superb, and they had another break late in the second half where a similar ball - something you come to take for granted from the Tottster - would've made it three. But still, it's uplifting to see him more involved and more creative as he works back to fitness and form. Baby steps.

As far as David Pizarro goes.....god bless the little man. If it weren't for his deflections in the Champions League, who the hell knows where they'd be? (Also, that's 3 goals, 4 deflections, this year - that's gotta be a skill, right?)



Box Score

ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni; Panucci (67' Tonetto), Juan (76' Ferrari), Mexes, Cassetti; De Rossi, Pizarro (61' Aquilani); Giuly, Perrotta, Mancini; Totti. A disp.: Julio Sergio, Cicinho, Vucinic, Ferrari. All. Spalletti

REAL MADRID (4-1-3-2):
Casillas; Sergio Ramos, Cannavaro, Heinze, Miguel Torres; Diarra (80' Drenthe); Guti, Gago, Robben (80' J.Baptista); Raul, Van Nistelrooy. A disp.: Dudek, Salgado, Soldado, Higuain, Balboa. All. Schuster

ARBITRO:
Fandel (Ger)

MARCATORI:
7' Raul, 24' Pizarro, 58' Mancini

NOTE: Ammoniti Diarra, De Rossi, Miguel Torres, Perrotta, Sergio Ramos, Cassetti. Recupero 0'pt, 3'st

* - Hot As Balls is out for the return leg. Amen.

Player Ratings

* - Liveblogging requires a lot of head jerking from one comp to the other, which isn't all that wonderful for full-on analysis. Also, I may be kind with some of these.

Doni:
Made one mistake which could've proven irrevocably fatal, when he dropped the ball, literally, on a cross from Raul (or was it RvN?) and left it hanging in the box before Juan came in to clean up for him. Don't throw away that nitroglycerin just yet. 7

Panucci: He got absolutely owned by Arjen Robben during the battle of Guy Who Is Actually Old But Has Hair Like A 12 Year Old v Guy Who Is Way Too Young To Have A Hairline Receding Downwards Towards His Ass Crack. Second half was improved, but my word a second goal looked inevitable throughout that first half. OMR is gonna need that Vespa in Madrid. 6.5

Philouppe Mexes:
I think it's the yellow boots. But Philou was all class as well, and didn't seem to have any lapses that I noticed. His consistency has really improved lately, it seems, and that's all kinds of wonderful. Quite frankly, no one can replace his defending and no one can replace his hair. Priceless all around. 7.5

Juan:
Helluva performance for a guy returning from a moderately severe injury. I'm not sure we could have asked for more. Now we'll have to wait and see how serious that little knock he picked up at the end is......pray for Chuck. 7.5

Cassetti:
Every game there's one guy I go blank on. Consistently present, still going blank. I suspect this means I'm an idiot. 7.something

Daniele De Rossi:
Legend. 10.5

Pizarro: Alright, goal was a deflection. Other than that he was all kinds of terrible, and gave nightmarish flashbacks to Saturday's game where he lost possession deep into Roma territory and forced DDR to make a rash tackle and pickup a yellow, setting up a free kick in just the same place. Too dangerous for this team against elite opposition. But shit, he scored a goal against Real. 8 (See that right there? I don't hate him.)

* - David also gets the award for Most Frightening Facial Expression After Scoring A Goal. Aside from that he also looks like a 10 year old boy carrying his books and apple to school, and I imagine he'd wear lederhosen or something.

pizaman

Amantino:
Splendid move and finishing on the goal. The Champions League Mancini we look forward to now. A dangerous threat, and had little trouble dealing with any of Real's defenders. 7.5

Simone Perrotta:
I'll be honest, I didn't notice him much (this happens when liveblogging), and just assume he did what he does and ran around like a madman and do all the little things which go unappreciated. Noticed a few choice disruptions, and even though he wasn't hugely present in front of the goal, and some nice linkage. 7

Ludovicious:
Clearly exhausted at the end, and perhaps the biggest impacted by Juan's little injury. I thought we'd see Cicinho on for him to tighten things up defensively with 10 left or so. And I'm not a big fan of LG starting out on the wing. He's not overly consistent out there and rarely has a great impact unless he's cutting in - not to mention providing little to no defensive help. I like him in the middle and I like him as an injection of pace out wide when defensive legs are tired. Other than that, can't recall any time lately when he's been really effective. Except for allowing me to perform endless trial and error processes for my nicknaming skills. 6.5

Totti: On the way back, and that's all they need at the moment. May have a rest over the weekend with Inter looking and Roma at home, which will probably help things as he works towards vintage for the return leg in Spain. 7

Aquilani:
The team, though clearly tired, seemed to perform better on the back end when he was on the pitch. His ability to track back and make tackles Pizaman couldn't even dream of making really makes a world of difference for this team. 7

Tonetto: Did very well getting forward as soon as he got on, and linked up well with Amantino, creating some good situations. Maybe some prolonged rest would do his gray-haired self some wonders. Not much time, though. 7

Ferrari: Not enough time on the pitch to make an impact, though managed to hold steay under Real's increasing pressure in the final minutes.

MOTM: Many are picking Mancini, which is a good call, he got the winning goal and was an ever-present threat. But Daniele De Rossi was The Difference Maker. the game totally changes without him on the pitch. (And how about that feckin ball to Francesco to start up Mancini's goal? Superb.)

Highlights

* - And I'm fairly sure you guys shattered the offside's record number for comments. Well done. Well done indeed.