Roma 3 - Fiorentina 2
Do you see the rhythm? I see the rhythm.
What's funny is that on the balance, Roma deserved the three points no question, but the goals, that which ultimately decides the game, let's just say thank you to Fiorentina. Boruc gave up the third while Gamberini just seemingly gave up on the second.
And yet, totally deserved, totally Roma. Easily the dominant team in both possession and quality, this was, to a degree, everything we've been hoping for, some might even say expecting, since Borriello was stolen from Milan. Not just on the pitch, but off it as well:
Want to rest Mirko? Go for it. Borriello, Totti and Menez is a three-coconut monster. Oh, Adriano's on the bench too? All the better. (But don't get him near the coconuts.)
Cassetti's suspended? Cicinho, Afterthought No. 34 from the summer's nonmercato, will step in against a dynamic attacking side and not miss a step. (Rosi was rumbling too, although his actual position is up for debate.)
Pizarro out? The midfield looked as smooth as ever. Fabio Simplicio might not be a true playmaker by trade, but that rolly rolly mother makes plays.
Leandro Greco looks the business? Fine, give him a start. Give everyone a start. Hell, play Rosi.
These were the options talked up at the beginning of the year and Ranieri was finally able to use them - a little bit of health, a little bit of luck, and a much improved mentality to thank. The team looked excellent, yeah, but there was an answer somewhere if it didn't. I mean, Mirko Vucinic on the bench. How long has it been since Roma could arguably put its most important player (yeah, I said it - and I've been saying it for about 10 months if you've been paying attention) on the bench against a top 8 team because the coach wants to and thinks he can?
Old timers, we're going to need an answer.
This was bigger than the derby for me, on paper at least, but was made possible because they built off the derby. Like Claudio said, the guys just looked like they were having fun, like it was just so damn easy once again.
They've got the mojo, and you can't have it.
- Seriously though, with decent defending that's a 2-1 loss on the basis of goals (that's not how it works, I know), because both purple goals were quite legit, even if Burdisso can take a dollop of the blame for both.
- You'll notice that teams follow Menez. When he was lined out on the right, Riise had small countries worth of space with which to work. When Menez drifted over to the left, suddenly it was a traffic jam of bodies.
Want a sign someone's arrived? All he has to do is move and they follow. He destroys team structure, disrupts game plans, and that's almost as important as anything he does with the ball.
And I'm convinced he's getting faster. Somehow.
(RomaNews had him as MOTM - by a mile - and I had Simplicio simply because it's less expected at this point. And on the basis of the picture above.)
- Average position throughout the game of the starting midfield:
Do you suppose Ranieri stayed up all night quietly weeping tears of joy with that underneath his pillow? Menez is a little cockeyed, but that's just gorgeous. Almost like it was drawn up, or something.
- I'm not ready to put forth any theories just yet, but I noticed a similarity with the Lecce game: the score 1-0 in the second half, they simply...broke away. Not the second goal, and not the eventual win, but in terms of their play relative to opponent, they widened the gap. Almost as though they gained confidence throughout the game without crossing the line into overconfidence.
I do genuinely think that's a part, and a large part at that, but equally the simple fact that these "teams" - the various lineups put forth by Claudio - are gelling on the go. Like he says, a number of these players still can't train during the week, and while some have a cache of chemistry from years past, most are learning the tendencies within the system and their teammates on the fly (that's you, Greco), during the games. Not too ridiculous to say a midfield of DDR, Greco, Simplicio and Menez hadn't reached telepathic levels by kickoff. Or, you know, practiced in the same team more than 7 minutes in their lives.
In the grand scheme, this gives me good tinglings over the course of the year. In fact, the early rash of injuries might just be beneficial in the long term, allowing a more fluid interchange of personnel.
Plus it's better to start slow and finish hot than the opposite. (That's you, Lazio.)
And now, another big test in just two days.
At this point, I'd prefer they run through a top 10 team every third day for the next month. Keep that mojo flowin'.