Catania 1 - Roma 1
Everywhere. Absolutely everywhere.
As uninspiring a match as the one in Catania last year. To say they were lifeless would be disrespect to the dead. A lack of vigor, ideas, ingenuity and general bother lead to one of the flattest performances we've seen in recent times. And largely across the board, too. In fact the only player of the XI worth mentioning in this holy pantheon we know as professional footballers was probably Julio Sergio, who saved a number of quality chances and actually may have earned his pittance of a paycheck. And though both goals were eerie in their luck-filled similarities, Catania deserved the points. End of.
(And the calcio gods would've duly obliged them with karmic points in the future if not for that little bitchfest they threw towards the end of the game.)
There is definitely the question of fatigue - Juan was on the bench from the start for these reasons while Mirko looked blackened and charred by the hour mark - and that's an optimistic viewpoint for the next trip out, but hardly the explanation or an excuse. They played far worse than fatigue could ever muster by its lonesome.
Those within the storm typically have the best vantage point, and Daniele De Rossi has proclaimed they're still having difficulties leaving Luciano's style for that of Claudio. And that's not unthinkable, given the complexities ingrained into their athlete brains for the better part of four years. In fact I think there's a good bit of truth in DDR's words. That we can expect this transition to be slow, arduous and unpretty at times, with the tastiest fruit well off. Dare I say, Roma wasn't built...
Nah, fuck it. They sucked.
- Defense, defense, defense. Morimoto & Co. were unlucky not to net twelve against an imperfect offside trap. Worst of the lot was Cassetti, who was oh so close to gifting Morimoto a couple of 1v1's, but then that's no surprise.
Were this Spalletti, I'd be a bit worried. Under Ranieri this will come around. Eventually.
- On the other end, their lack of attacking fortitude in the opposition's final third is slightly worrisome. It's not even the lack of finishing or execution which has felled them in the past, but rather getting there with a ball touching their feet once every twelve minutes. Simple is nice, but a little bit of creativity is designed to get the ball around those funny colored people - that's the opposition - up near that other funny lookin' guy weared big gloves - he's also the bad guy - and playing around with it near that area for a bit before kicking it into the net (that's slightly important).
The second half was a big improvement, but this isn't a one time thing. They need some quick incisive (ahem...accurate) passing and some intelligent movement from the forwards to create space from the defense.
And the accuracy of passing is and has been a massive problem with this team recently, and perhaps this is another example of the post-Spalletti fallout. Previously, they had an innate understanding of where the ball needed to be placed for a teammate to run onto with intimate knowledge of these runs, but now the runs are different and the placement seems to be a bit off. This is technically a talented group of footballers, so hopefully this will come around once, as Daniele said, Ranietti football becomes Ranieri football.
- Rightback is a fucking abortion. You know things are cataclysmically dire when anxiously awaiting the defensive stability of Cicinho.
- Cerci's youthful exuberance was immense, but he was headed for an exuberant red card (typical Roman).
However, it was nice to see that Ranieri wasn't afraid to switch things up on the fly tactically in order to chase the result and equally as nice to see Cerci attempting to rise to the challenge.
- Do you suppose keeping a clean sheet for 19 minutes will do a world of good for Philou's confidence?
- Going back to the Morimoto goal: six seconds was the amount of time Takayuki was allowed to stand directly in front of goal without a body between himself and Julio Sergio. Six seconds. The guy closest after the cross had come and gone? David Pizarro.
This kid tears Roma limb from limb. Put a goddamn body on him.
(And, for anyone collecting silver linings, an elementary defensive move such as that is all that is needed to turn one of the worst performances in recent memory into a win.)
- 57% possession, 3 shots on goal. Must. be. better.
And I do genuinely think Totti needs a game off. He's not 32 anymore.
- There is no money in the Europa League. None whatsoever. In fact there's not even a great deal of rhyme or reason to those who find success in the continent's second tier competition - unless you're Spanish or once answered to CCCP - so I'm not altogether against punting the competition for some midweek rest. They won't, and there's something to be said for pride, but run out the B-team on Thursday to see what happens and you won't hear a solitary peep from me.
- Lots of "shoulda been" results were dropped aplenty. While the performance was diabolical, on the balance of the weekend I'd much rather a stolen point in Sicily than a dropped two at home to the likes of Bari or Bologna.
Not a single player but JSB and, perhaps, Cerci get even a passing grade in my book, so we'll say...an -8.5 across the board and call it a day.
Now finally some good news...
It can only get better from here.