Tis the first game in the sans-Totti stretch we're about to endure; unfortunately, the boys in red & yellow have had a lot of experience dealing without their captain this season. Now, though, they'll have to march on knowing it's about them and only them, because Francesco won't be making any miraculous recoveries, walking up the stairs and onto the pitch for the rest of the season. It's time to form the team around themselves and without Him. The leadership will be fine in the form of Daniele De Rossi, but they need to start finishing much, much better as a whole. That is unless Mirko goes bananas, which is altogether possible.
Could there be a better team to kick of this stretch with than Torino? In the standings, very few, but this team knows how to grind out draws away from home - and we know how well Roma can gloriously flub finishing at times - with 2 wins, 6 losses and 9 sister smooches. They've also got Gianni De Biasi back in the fold, and have a rush of adrenaline as they attempt to avoid relegation, sitting just four points off the zone.
Luckily for Roma, they've had severe difficulties scoring goals against anyone (4 goals in their last 9 games, held scoreless 7 out of those 9), much less a team of Roma's defensive capabilities; so to say they'd be lucky getting just one would be the understatement of the century. Actually, if they get 2+ goals I'll fly to Rome and disembowel Doni myself. That's a promise. (One I probably won't keep but I'd at least think about it, so that's something.)
And thus it begins. There is still a mathematical chance the season isn't effectively over, but that's simply numbers. I have no doubt Spal will play for the full three points every week for the rest of the season, but the question becomes who will see minutes that hasn't seen all that many so far. The first name which pops to mind is Antunes. His playing time has basically come in the Coppa and a meaningless CL game, and his status for next year could still be up in the air - loan looks likely, but one never knows.
Adrian Pit? Perhaps? Strange to see him on the squad the full year with zero time on the pitch outside of the Coppa. Then there are guys like Mauro Esposito and Gianluca Curci, both of whom are almost certainly headed elsewhere in the summer (Espo sold, Curci on co-ownership/loan), and could do well to bump up their pricetags/sex appeal a bit.
But those are likely for the coming weeks. For this week, should be standard. The one overwhelming question I have is what happens when Vucigol comes off (he's not playing every minute from here on out, that's for damn sure). Ludovicious? Sure, but he's less than ideal. Taddei? Mancini? Alright, but those are emergency band-aids. There is one guy I've felt for a while (I said it in the beginning here) on the roster who could potentially take Totti's prima punta spot in the future when Francesco's time is up: Alberto Aquilani. They aren't like-for-like, but start thinking about Alberto's first touch, finishing and passing qualities in that spot and...............
I think both clubs would like a couple "do-overs". Roma two, precisely.
Portieri: Fontana, Gomis.
Difensori: Dellafiore, Di Loreto, Franceschini, Lanna, Motta, Pisano, Rubin.
Centrocampisti: Asamoah Kwadwo (n. 24), Barone, Corini, Diana, Grella, Lazetic, Rosina.
Attaccanti: Bjelanovic, Di Michele, Recoba, Stellone, Ventola.
Torino lost Matteo Sereni, which means Fontana in net being backed up by a 12 year old. Corini and Bottone are suspended. And Gianluca Comotto is out for the year, though his mouth isn't.
Cicinho, Juan, Mexes, Tonetto;
Taddei, Simone, Mancini;
Seems pretty straight forward, though expect Marco Cassetti to come in later to rightfully reclaim his old spot and Alberto Aquilani to do the same. Pray they don't get injured.
Motta, Di Loreto, Dellafiore, Pisano;
Diana, Grella, Barone, Lazetic;
Started out with similar last week, seemed to work alright....
Let's see, Roma got manhandled in Torino 3-1 and snuck down to the level for a sister smooching in the Serie A encounter over a few weeks in December. Then, in January, Roma put on a 45 minute clinic in the Coppa at the Olimpico. Where will this one end up? Somewhere in between.
Score: 2-0 Roma
Goals: De Rossi (21), Vucinic (36)
Mancini Give-A-Shit Factor: π
When: 1500 CET, 0900 EST
Where: Stadio Olimpico
Forecast: Sunny, 21°C.