I think this could be the most by-the-wayside Roma - Milan game in history. Right after the Champions League draw where Roma drew ManUre, right before The Derby against the baby-slappin', tampon-wearin', sherry-sippin', pillow-bitin' bastardi from the hills - all the while watching the manure being projected directly from Mancio's mouth into the black and blue fan at the San Siro. Oh, and Milan's Champions League pedigree is watching the festivities from home and fighting the good fight against UEFA Cupdom next year. Where's the drama, people? BIG GAME.
For the sentimentalists in the crowd, this game may mark the final occasion of Il Capitano v Il Capitano, the men amongst the boys. Or it may not, depending on whether His Paoloness decides to strap on the boots for one more year. His Francesconess, however, will be here forever and ever, so we'll never have to worry about this.
As far as Milan is concerned.....eh. They have a horrid few months to begin the Serie A season, and now look back on track somewhat, but they're still far from vintage. Evindenced by the unthinkable 1-1 draw with Lazio just a couple weeks ago, and the search & rescue mission they had to call on to take 3 points away from Empoli last weekend (ahhh, 3 points in Tuscany, how lovely might thy be.....).
Still they've got Andrea Pirlo and his right foot, they've got Ricky Kaka, they've got The Quacker and they've got IVAN FUCKING GATTUSO. They ain't half bad, they've got plenty of weapons and they're still Associazione Calcio Milan. They've got all kinds of vets who know how to get wins when they really have no business getting wins. (And getting girls they have no business getting - like Pippo.)
Roma, meanwhile, will be missing Philippe Mexes, who is still a bit woozy from his knock against Napoli last weekend. The multiple concussions in one year are quite worrisome, both for his health and future. No one likes to see guys get knocked upside the head continuously, especially pretty-looking Frenchmen (alright, that's a complete lie, but we can make an exception). And should this become a persistent problem, this really does frighten me, because Philou won't ever leave. Which means we may be stuck with a 32 year old French eggplant making 5m and getting a red card every 3 games. So it'd be like having Patrick Vieira. (Bada boom.)
So dealing with Rick & The Quacker will be Juan & Matteo "Oh Please For The Day Borrow The Keys To The" Ferrari. And whoever starts at RB - and let's just say after the last meeting, there can only be one person.....
(And Matteo Ferrari is playing for a contract. No worries!)
As a sidenote, I'd bet everything in my little piggy bank that Roberto Donadoni will be in the crowd, thinking of clever comebacks to Domenech's quips which he'll freeze up and fail to retort with when the occasion arrives. What he'll probably not be doing is noticing that for all of Massimo Ambrosini's "nice" qualities, he couldn't carry Daniele De Rossi's jock driving a dump truck. (Ditto for Ivan, but don't tell him I said that.)
Depending on who starts, we also may get the opportunity to see a transitioning of time, from one Rossoneri-tinged Azzurri midfield (Pirlo, Ambrosini & Ivan) to another, more vibrant Giallorossi-tinged edition in King Alberto and The DDR.
1. Inter 64
2. Roma 58
3. Juve 51
4. Viola 47
5. Milan 46
So, uh....Forza Palermo.
Milan haven't looked terrible, but Roma is clearly on form, and you know what they say: an on form Roma can beat anyone in the world.
1 GIANLUCA CURCI
2 CHRISTIAN PANUCCI
3 CICERO JOAO DE CEZARE (CICINHO)
4 JUAN SILVEIRA DOS SANTOS
7 DAVID MARCELO CORTES PIZARRO
8 ALBERTO AQUILANI
9 MIRKO VUCINIC
10 FRANCESCO TOTTI
11 RODRIGO FERRANTE TADDEI
14 LUDOVIC GIULY
15 VITORINO GABRIEL PACHECO ANTUNES
16 DANIELE DE ROSSI
18 MAURO ESPOSITO
20 SIMONE PERROTTA
21 MATTEO FERRARI
22 MAX TONETTO
27 JULIO SERGIO BERTAGNOLI
30 MANCINI ALESSANDRO FAIOLHE AMANTINO
32 DONIEBER ALEXANDER MARANGON (DONI)
33 MATTEO BRIGHI
77 MARCO CASSETTI
Dida, Fiori, Kalac; Bonera, Digao, Favalli, Kaladze, Maldini, Oddo, Simic; Ambrosini, Brocchi, Emerson, Gattuso, Kaka', Pirlo, Seedorf; Gilardino, Pato, Paloschi.
Philou, but the keys are coming from the visitors.
Alessandro Nesta is out, which is huge, and basically makes losing Mexes a wash. Jankulovski is also out, which means somebody pushing forty will probably be starting out on the left wing. Heeeeeeeeeeeeellllllooooooooooooo Cicinho.
(And Clarence is supposedly ready to go. We shall see.)
Cicinho, Ferrari, Juan, Tonetto;
Taddei, Perrotta, Mancini;
I actually think this is a fairly safe bet, which means it's completely wrong.
Oddo, Kaladze, Maldini, Serginho;
Gattuso, Pirlo, Ambrosini;
Feel free to tinker with that back line as you like, but whatever it is, it's going to look delicious.
Cicinho v Whatever Senior Citizen Carletto Throws Onto The Pitch: Normally I'm pretty sound when it comes to Cicinho and starting; I won't necessarily wave the flag just because he's the sexy pick - but he's gotta start this one. He made mincemeat of the legend himself last time around, and in order for whoever the hell plays left-back to handle him again, he'll need some help. Which means one of those mids is going to have to sneak over and pay attention to Cicinho, which means space could open up in the center (because let's face it, Pirlo is a lot of great things, but my left testicle can defend better than he can), which means one of DDR or Alberto is going unleash a shot which is going to rip through the back of the Olimpico net and into Giallorossi folklore. The end.
Carletto v Carletto: I love Carlo. Really do. But jesus, the guy's substitutions can make Roberto Mancini look worthy of a Nobel Prize. If he uses too many too soon, or brings on Emerson at any point in the match, Roma really needs to capitalize. I think Spalletti should, unless shit goes down, keep a sub in his pocket until Carletto's third is made (which should come right around the halftime whistle). Read, react, conquer.
Ricky Kaka v DDR: Ricky won last year's Golden Ball, Daniele is going to win one at some point in the future. I don't think there are too many arguments as to who has been the better player this year, so let's watch DDR put the Jesus-loving Brazilian into his back pocket for the game and whistle softly while strolls around the pitch. And then afterwards we can print up T-Shirts that say "I Belong To Daniele De Rossi" and Kaka can sign them.
The Frontline v That Backline: Without Nesta, that back line looks awfully scrumptious. Maldini is a legend, but hasn't been infallible this year. Kaladze is a very good player, but he's only one. I haven't seen enough of Bonera to care, but he's not really lighting the world up from what I hear. Massimo Oddo is about as useful as a space heater on the sun. Serginho died at least 3 years ago and it's just his ghost patrolling the left hand side, I'm sure of it. And Cafu, well, he missed the boat a little ways back. Always a legend, but plenty of prizefighters forgot when to hang em up and got their clocks cleaned in the process. Roma, on the other hand, is on form and looking potentially lethal. Need I say more?
Il Capitano v Il Capitano: Last one?
I know this is dangerous to say, but I haven't been this confident going into a game in a very, very long time. I think Roma has this and I think if things don't go their way, Big Game Mirko comes in to save the day. Mexes might be out, but Roma has the least of the worries in the back right now. Confidence flying high, The Mister pulling the strings a la Geppetto....it's going to be a good day.
Score: 3-1 Roma
Goals: Aquilani (20), Pirlo (33), Totti (40), Totti (65)
When: 2030 CET, 1530 EST.
Where: The Olimpico, Rome.