Another day, another injury crisis. Normally I'd expect a trouncing; considering the injuries, a draw should be the minimum. But at this point I'd just like to see eleven living, breathing bodies able to take part on Tuesday for the Champions League festivities. I'd rather avoid TGIP having to sheepishly ask Cluj if they can play five-a-side for the day.
Luckily there are few other, or none, for that matter, clubs Roma would rather be playing right now. Their coaching situation and ownership is once again a joke and their performance against Udinese was fucking abysmal. The back line looked like Swiss cheese after being hit by a drive-by, Toto Di Natale had an entire province to himself on the wing and Edison Cavani's performance made Keanu Reeves doing Hamlet look like a masterpiece. But they're not that bad - they can't be.
Which makes this a trap game, if that's what we can call it. The Poobah deciding on the teamsheet will have the feel of putting together a Rubik's cube - though Taddei certainly helps - and we're looking at a back line that, featuring two new purchases having had little to no time to gel in game situations, and a choice of the 2nd and 3rd choice keepers, both of whom inspire so much confidence they're considering signing a 39yo free agent currently training with a Serie B youth team, will have most of the stateside tifosi drinking heavily before noon. There's nothing going into this game which inspires any level of comfort, although the squads on paper - and Palermo's run thus far, including the Coppa - can put forth a modicum of confidence. Just confidence which is on shaky ground. I guess this means giallorosso matters are status quo.
Ah the life of a Roma fan.
Aquilani, Artur, Baptista, Bertagnoli, Brighi, Cassetti, Cicinho, De Rossi, Loria, Marangon, Menez, Montella, Okaka, Panucci, Pizarro, Riise, Taddei, Tonetto, Vucinic.
PORTIERI: Marco Amelia, Alberto Fontana.
DIFENSORI: Federico Balzaretti, Cesare Bovo, Ciro Capuano, Mattia Cassani, Moris Carrozzieri, Hernan Paolo Dellafiore, Andrea Raggi.
CENTROCAMPISTI: Maurizio Ciaramitaro, Roberto Guana, Fabio Liverani, Giulio Migliaccio, Antonio Nocerino, Fabio Henrique Simplicio, Giovanni Tedesco.
ATTACCANTI: Edinson Cavani, Davide Lanzafame, Fabrizio Miccoli, Davide Succi
Let's look at a normal starting XI.
Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto;
Taddei, Perrotta, Vucinic;
Who plays through the spine? Doni, Mexes, Juan, DDR, KA/Pizarro, Perrotta and Totti. A whopping two of those are traveling. Wonderful.
Cassetti, Panucci, Loria, Tonetto;
Taddei, Aquilani, Vucinic;
It's not that bad. Actually it's not bad at all - pretty good even. But certainly not as good as it could be. And that back line - think Cassetti will get the start here, Spalletti trusts him - plus Artur, or whoever it is, is just...I dunno. Uninspiring for sure.
But it seems, fullbacks aside, this is the only way it'll be - though where Mirko and La Bestia play remains to be seen.
The Curse of Marco Amelia v Marco Amelia: Obviously he's a good keeper, but he's a fucking legend when up against his unrequited love. The save at the end of the Livorno game last year (off the header - not sure who it was) could only have hurt more had he leapt through the TV screen with a dagger and plunged into the entire fandom's hearts. Let's hope communication is an issue as they work through the insane amount of issues currently residing in Sicily. And more of that Palermo defending will be greatly appreciated.
Mirko Legend v Andrea Raggi: Raggi's a decent talent, but Vucinic is already there and then some. After watching Di Natale annihilate Palermo, looks like Mirko will have a field day, slaloming through the pink D like Alberto Tomba circa 1988.
Roma v Palermo's Instability: The sacking of Colantuono has thrown everything up in the air and, with this being their first game under Ballardini, there's no clue how things will proceed. Colantuono didn't deserved to be sacked any more than Zampa should've sacked himself - insane expectations after cleaning house this summer - but it doesn't mean Ballardini won't help. Still, Palermo's looking a bit like this year's Parma. No complaints here.
No Taddei v Taddei: Obviously can't ask for too much from him what with this being his first game since the spring and all, but he really does fill an integral role and the difference between he and everyone else who's played on the right thus far will be readily evident. Even if the form is still lacking, his workrate and ability to relieve the pressure of the rightback will be enough.
I'll be honest, I never thought Montella was done in giallorosso. Even last summer, when the stage was set for his return to Sampdoria and the seeimingly subsequent swansong to follow. Just could not see it happening. And my what a glorious moment will it be when he once again takes the pitch - Saturday, next week or whenever. Here's to hoping he turns back the clock.
Even though much of the cavalry is back at Trigoria, I think they desperately want to make up for Napoli. Expect the exceptional form of the Romans - and transplanted Romans, for that matter - to take over Sicily.
Score: 2-0 Roma
Goals: Aquilani (60), Vucinic (67)
When: 1800 CET, 1200 EST
Where: Renzo Barbera, Palermo.
Forecast: Rain, 22°C.