Milan v Roma
Forget Leonardo, forget Claudio Ranieri and forget guesstimating Ronaldinho's levels of hungoverness during tomorrow's match (+/- Robert Downey Jr). There are only two underlying forces which are worth discussing for tomorrow's match: home away from Rome and no Totti, no party.
Homa away from Roma.
In the league, Roma have not lost at the San Siro since the final game of the Calciopoli-stained '05/06, a 2-1 loss to Milan on two penalties. Since then it's been 4-2-0 in the Serie A, with three wins against the devilish side of the Meazza at the Meazza. In total it's been 4-2-0 against Milan the last three years.
In short: Roma loves seeing them some Milan. Roma really loves seeing some Milan at the San Siro.
No Totti, no party.
Francesco Totti is stupidly good. 'Bout sums it up.
Is losing Kaka a wash? Possibly. What's not a wash is having John Arne Riise, who's two for two at the San Siro in the league. If Inter or Milan snapped him up, he'd win Capocannoniere easy.
Game. Set. Riise.
In reality, these two might balance each other out to a degree, putting Roma and Milan the football team back on level playing terms. Of course are the teams themselves on level levels? Maybe, maybe not. There's so much going on in this game it's impossible to tell.
- The previous San Siro squatting was done under the stewardship of Luciano Spalletti. Perhaps all of TGIP's bad Tuscan juju was transformed into good Milanese karma, leaving Claudio sans San Siro magic.
- If Ranieri beats Milan badly enough to force Leonardo into unemployment, we may have to start calling him The Pink Slip.
So he's got that potential nickname working as motivation.
- Marco Storari haunts us. He haunts us all.
Though I still hope Matteo Ferrari is afflicted with a lifetime of agonizing dyspepsia.
- Mirko typically owns Milan. Problem is the only thing he's owned lately is the post and a good deal of IcyHot. Still in a goal drought, still far less than full fitness.
The same goes for Baptista. In fact the only fully fit striker-types right now is Okakachukamuthafucka and maybe kinda sorta Yeremy Menez (unless having a stick up one's ass is enough to get on the boo boo list).
A fully fit and roaring Mirko eases a few concern. A hobbled and licking his wounds Mirko...not so much.
- David Beckham is not in northern Italy. +1 Milan.
Ronaldinho is. -1 Milan.
- Doni will return.
I've yet to decided which squad gets this in their Advantages bin.
- Nicolas Burdisso has been playing far too well, far too calmly since his Roman arrival. I'm a bit afraid a return to the San Siro will remind him how to be rubbish and insanely so.
- No Juan, nowhere.
On the balance of things, it's starting to look as though things are stacked against Roma. Which means there's no balance at all, really. But then there is that one thing...for the first time in what seems a year, Roma is not the team in crisis.
Claudio Ranieri v Leonardo.
Another two weeks of learning, adaptation and progress with nearly the entire squad. Despite not having Francesco or much of an attack, this should be Ranieri's best Roma yet.
Long live the San Siro.
1 BOGDAN LOBONT
2 CICERO JOAO DE CESARE (CICINHO)
3 MARCO ANDREOLLI
5 PHILIPPE MEXES
7 DAVID MARCELO CORTES PIZARRO
9 MIRKO VUCINIC
11 RODRIGO FERRANTE TADDEI
14 RICARDO FATY
15 VITORINO GABRIEL PACHECO ANTUNES
16 DANIELE DE ROSSI
17 JOHN ARNE RIISE
19 JULIO CESAR BAPTISTA
20 SIMONE PERROTTA
21 STEFANO GUBERTI
23 LEANDRO GRECO
25 ARTUR GUILHERME GUSMAO MORAES
26 ADRIAN FLORIN PIT
29 NICOLAS BURDISSO
32 DONIEBER ALEXANDER MARANGON (DONI)
33 MATTEO BRIGHI
77 MARCO CASSETTI
89 OKAKA CHUKA STEFANO
94 JEREMY MENEZ
Dida, Storari, Antonini, Favalli, Jankulovski, Nesta, Oddo, Thiago Silva, Zambrotta, Abate, Ambrosini, Flamini, Pirlo, Seedorf, Huntelaar, Inzaghi, Pato, Ronaldinho.
Giocatori indisponibili: Abbiati, Bonera, Onyewu, Gattuso, Di Gennaro.
Giocatori non convocati: Kaladze, Borriello.
(Is Borriello really getting quasi-healthy snubs? Can't they throw him Roma's way for a signed Mexes litho?)
Cassetti, Burdisso, Mexes, Riise
Taddei, De Rossi, Pizarro, Perrotta
JSB is out and Bogdan Lobont's reflexes currently aspire to rheumatoid arthritis, so Doni will get his 09/10 debut. Don't expect the mental side of his game to go smoothly. Not that it has in the past.
If Mirko can't go - he should be available - things may have to get creative because Menez will likely be better against late legs and Julio doesn't have many minutes in his tree trunks yet.
Personally I'd prefer the 4-3-1-2 with a bit of Brighi, but RN has Rodrigo as getting the start. Outside of those three, it should be the standard.
Last trip for the memories: