Roma v Lecce
And so Roma lives on. Sort of.
It seems like eons have passed since last weekend, but it surely can't be as nothing seems to have changed from, oh, September: Luciano Spalletti will again be running out a patchwork side in some way, shape or form. Injuries are to blame undoubtedly - six players who would, if healthy, play a substantial part in the fixture including at least four starters, are out - but Emidio Morganti has left his dirty palm prints all over this one as well, with the centerback core decimated.
And I'm not sure this means anything in the grand scheme - it shouldn't as this is far from the worst list of casualties this year - but I find it mighty interesting that only one player wearing a single digit jersey has been called up while six are injured or suspended (Lil' David - 7). Lower numbers typically go to players of a higher caliber, so I suppose that tells a little story of the quality sitting in the stands.
Thankfully it's Lecce at home, as close to a gimme as it gets with the other giallorossi headed back down to the dungeons - and they need it to be a gimme. Not for the uphill battle towards fourth but rather for the sake of the team mentality. They thrive with confidence and plummet otherwise, and with the constant rash of injuries this year they've had no chance to build any continuity within the system and amongst themselves, and familiarity breeds confidence as we all know. They need to absolutely steamroll someone while half the starting lineup is parked in the stands in order to will themselves through the end of the season. Then, and only then, can the repairs begin.
As for the current hospital ward, Doni is out which is probably best for all involved. No need for him to be subject to the boos and bags of burning feces being hurled from the Olimpico stands.
Though on the other hand...the 'triangle' in front of goal (keeper and two CB's) inspires little to no confidence. In fact it inspires me to forget there will be a game happening at all. Everything in my soul says that Simone Loria has played his last minutes in red & yellow but then I'd also have said the same thing in January, and we all know how that's gone since. Souleymane Diamoutene is a given and, I guess, we just pray for John Arne Riise at centerback and prepare for the worst.
Yes, it's come to that. (I genuinely cannot believe those words just spilled onto the page. My word.)
So you can see where the Artur - Diamoutene - Loria/Riise trifecta of mediocrity sounds less appealing than spending the game lathering one's nude ass with honey and running backwards through a bee hive. (Will let you know how that goes.)
And because of this, the key player becomes a certain Chilean playmaker of Lilliputian proportions. If, as projected, the 4-2-3-1 takes a seat in the stands along with half the starting XI, this is less of a worry, but with a back line on weakened knees as it stands David will need to maintain possession and leave his sloppy passing doppelganger back at the villa. Lecce will struggle to create their own shots so there's no reason to give them a boost.
The other key is, of course, that Totti character. Because he's Francesco Totti and because of what happened the last go 'round.
7 DAVID PIZARRO
10 FRANCESCO TOTTI
11 RODRIGO TADDEI
12 PIETRO PIPOLO
13 MARCO MOTTA
15 SIMONE LORIA
16 DANIELE DE ROSSI
17 JOHN ARNE RIISE
19 JULIO BAPTISTA
20 SIMONE PERROTTA
21 SOULEYMANE DIAMOUTENE
22 MAX TONETTO
23 VINCENZO MONTELLA
25 GUILHERME DE MORAIS GUSMAO ARTUR
27 JULIO SERGIO BERTAGNOLI
33 MATTEO BRIGHI
36 RICCARDO BROSCO*
38 MARCO D’ALESSANDRO*
39 ADRIAN STOJAN*
40 ALESSANDRO MALOMO*
41 SEBASTIAN MLADEN*
77 MARCO CASSETTI
* - Primavera
Indisponibili: Vucinic, Doni, Cicinho, Juan, Menez, Aquilani.
Squalificati: Mexes, Panucci.
Ardito, Ariatti, Basta, Benussi, Caserta, Castillo, Edinho, Esposito, Fabiano, Giuliatto, Konan, Munari, Papadopoulos, Papa Waigo, Polenghi, Rosati, Stendardo, Tiribocchi, Zanchetta.
Motta, Diamoutene, Riise, Tonetto
Perrotta, DDR, Brighi
And out goes the 4-2-3-1 yet again, bringing back the recently shelved 4-3-1-2 - or some variation - in its stead.
That defense aspires to suspect and the bench for the rest isn't much better, with Taddei the only half decent 'midfielder' (though we always forget about Filipe), a recently injured Montella the only available forward and about two dozen Primavera pre-teens filling in the rest.
Won't necessarily be pretty, but it needn't be - they only need the result.
Given how easily they dominated some stretches last weekend and how angry they must be in the wake of the result, they should win this one fairly easily - even if the scoreline may not indicate such. (That's code for Baptista is going to be rubbish.)
And the weather may not help either.
Game: 1-0 Roma
Goals: Totti (40)
When: 1500 CET, 0900 EST.
Where: Olimpico, Rome.
Forecast: 18°C, 50% chance of rain.