Sampdoria v Roma
How does one begin to assess the cost of desire? Is there a number? There might just be. There might be a few, even. Let's start with three, four, thirteen and sixteen.
3: The number of professional midfielders who have been called up - Matteo Brighi, David Pizarro and Felipe. And we're calling Felipe a 'professional midfielder' very loosely. Nice debut, but he's still a self-moving training cone.
4: The number of Primavera players called up by necessity, not because they're all kinds of fantastic and have nothing more to learn at the youth level. (Brosco's close, though, which is something.)
13: The number of professional players called up who should be playing - David Pizarro and Marco Motta absolutely should not. Oh, and Simone Loria...but for different reasons.
16: The number of professional players called up period.
If the side wasn't simply decimated by injuries, Pizarro and Motta would be watching the Samp fixture in track suits on their sofas. But with only half a squad in Genoa and precisely one healthy and match fit midfielder, they'll likely be forced onto the pitch in some fashion at some point. The carcasses which littered the Olimpico pitch midweek only told half the story, it seems.
I'll stop short of calling this a lost cause, but it's getting quite close. As otherworldly as John Arne Riise's performance midweek was - and it was that and so much more (a bag of chips, even) - eying his name on the projected team sheet under 'CB' is still less preferable than death by constipation. Ditto for the 'best case scenario' of Max Tonetto as a central midfielder. Julio Baptista, Yeremy Menez and Mirko Vucinic all on the pitch at once? That side's got as much balance as a seesaw with a leprechaun and the world's fattest man; while the combination of Baptista's touch and Menez's ability to remain upright might inspire me to end the torture by ingesting a porcupine.
It's all gone a bit wobbly upside down, to say the least. Whatever is run out will probably be three leagues short of a "C" team.
And despite Samp being rubbish they're decent at home, so there's really only one mission tomorrow: come home with as many or more healthy bodies than they departed with. Points are a bonus.
2 CHRISTIAN PANUCCI
7 DAVID MARCELO CORTES PIZARRO
9 MIRKO VUCINIC
13 MARCO MOTTA
15 SIMONE LORIA
17 JOHN ARNE RIISE
19 JULIO CESAR BAPTISTA
21 SOUYMANE DIAMOUTENE
22 MAX TONETTO
23 VINCENZO MONTELLA
24 JEREMY MENEZ
25 GUILHERME DE MORAIS GUSMAO ARTUR
27 JULIO SERGIO BERTAGNOLI
32 DONIEBER ALEXANDER MARANGON (DONI)
33 MATTEO BRIGHI
35 ANDREA BERTOLACCI*
36 RICCARDO BROSCO*
37 ALESSANDRO CRESCENZI*
38 MARCO D’ALESSANDRO*
Indisponibili: Cassetti, Aquilani, Perrotta, Juan, Totti, Taddei, Cicinho
Squalificati: De Rossi e Mexes. (DDR is suspended for Juventus also.)
Francesco: Francesco's got a case of the "I was hurt before I played 120 minutes plus penalties on Wednesday". Juve is the goal.
Juan & Taddei: One month with flexor injuries.
Baptista: Being rubbish.
Although it might not be all bad if the second half of this video is any indication (mute...now).
Cicinho & Cassetti: Right back-itis.
Mexes: Hasn't trained all week, still with the fever (suspended anyway). Damn you Yeremy.
Aquilani: Alberto has flown to Amsterdam to receive treatment on his ankle and hopefully cure all his ails. As long as this day spa actually has medical credentials, all's well.
Motta, Panucci, Diamoutene, Riise
Pizarro, Brighi, Tonetto
Motta is looking very likely as he's recovered perhaps a bit better than expected and Pizarro is looking likely only because the next midfielder on the depth chart is Damiano Tommasi - and I'm not sure he'll be the most fantastically alert player to ever step on a pitch after catching a red eye from Tianjin.
While Spalletti will do his best to incorporate tactics and players in positions they can actually play into his starting lineup, healthy bodies will be the absolute premium.
And really, what would this team do without Panucci right now? (Bastard.)
Game: 1-1 Roma
Goals: Cassano (45), Baptista (51)
When: 1500 CET, 1000 EST.
Where: Luigi Ferraris, Genoa.
Forecast: 18°C, partly sunny.