Roma 2 - Lecce 0
Sometimes the symmetry is too good, the parralells too perfect. So perfect in fact, that even if I told you it was entirely on purpose, you'd never believe, nor should you.
This would be that case.
180 Minutes To Get It Together, as if to imply two games had combined to form one, with each 90 minutes comprising a half. And if we're running with this line of thinking, this was Roma as we've come to know them all too often this year and in years long gone:
Absolutely brilliant in the first half, an absolute mystery for the second.
Easily their best performance of the season, not based on the ninety minutes in whole, but the evolution through those ninety minutes. Without David, with Mirko, they'd swapped attacking links, getting better with each and every ten minute bracket it seemed. For a team so rooted in inconsistency, this was truly promising. On the whole. 28-0 wouldn't have flattered, and if not for the finishing, Lecce's goal difference would've been put into the red for the season. They were just that fluid in the attack, that quick to quality attacking positions as the game wore on, that much closer to understanding each other again.
Of course most of this play came in the second half, but it was really the second half of the first half, so they were still capable of first half brilliance through. Basel will be the test, as they've really yet to put together two very good performances with very good results thus far (Brescia/Inter, but we know how that turned out).
It's not all good though, as while I was busy reveling in the victory, dreaming of flying ball after ball to Mirko on the high left, reality set in: another day, another midfielder.
Matteo Brighi is lost from the one position which can afford no further losses.
You can tell me they'll be better with Mirko partnering Borriello in the derby, and I'll listen. You can tell me the mobility, pace and ability to infuriate Cristian Ledesma of Menez will disrupt Lazio's structure more, and I'll listen. You can tell me Francesco cares too much, that he plays the derby listening to his heart rather than the footballing genius within, and yes, I will listen.
You cannot tell me that simply not having the option of Francesco Totti is somehow better, in any way.
The rest needn't any words. We all saw it, we all know how absurd the refereeing in the league is and has been for years.
An injustice, clearly, but when has Serie A ever been just?
- Rewatching the game as we speak (well, I speak, you listen) and I hadn't realized just how close the dipping volley in the 12th minute came to scoring. And here I thought they dodged all bullets save for the time Juan and Julio Sergio fluffed up their communication - which I'd imagine is really fucking difficult when both speak not one but two of the same languages.
- I was very, very thrilled by Mirko's performance - and so was the rest of the team, since the attacking gameplan eventually evolved to "fly it to Mirko" - but then hit with a massive, crippling letdown upon the realization that Lecce is a big team/big game to Mirko.
I mean, this helps for the derby, but Juve's coming up.
- You've got to imagine Mexes' return to form is the best thing that could've happened for the defense of this team, considering Nico reverting back to his own excellent form of yesteryear. Competition and all that psychological mumbo jumbo.
Though Burdisso's really at a disadvantage since he can't conjure up the magic of Miami Vice.
How's he supposed to compete with that?
- The one benefit of all these midfield injuries is that Fabio Simplicio is slowly but surely staking a claim to be included more and more into the side.
You don't want it to be by necessity, but hey - that's Roma.
- It really is quite a shame that Mirko won't be afforded as much of a chance to try and stretch the defense if he's pushed inward to partner Borriello on the weekend, but it does lead me to think Claudio may just fancy his chances with a Vu-Bo-Me tridente - something I'm sure he's pondered a number of times while wondering why his team is constantly broken and he can't freely play with all his toys as he desires.
The only problem is just who the fluff is going to play in midfield. DDR-Perrotta-Simplicio? 4-4-2 with Cicinho at midfield? That hasn't looked inspiring thus far. Castellini with Menez at RM? And how to account for Simone's inevitable ankle injury/hamstring pull/Bubonic plague suffered in Switzerland?
(Basel. Right. Moving on...)
- Speaking of broken Roma - what's the warranty on Adriano? Has to be a 1 year policy or something; does Flamengo have any decent strikers for whom he can be returned? You know: similar product, free shipping.
Yeah, it's a joke, but think about it...
- The contrast in celebrations between Mad Man up there and Mirko Man are downright engrossing. If you'd never watched a game of football in your life, would you be able to tell which positions these men played? I think so.
For anyone who didn't watch the game and is wondering why Vuci looks to hate the world after scoring, Mirko fluffed a baker's dozen worth of chances - one might even say he'd tossed a big fat donut - before actually netting one. (A crueller.)
- Claudio's kinda, sorta nailing the subs lately. Cassetti wasn't great, was doing his "oh hey let me stand here and let you run into my shoulder" thing (this is going to be a chapter in the next revision of the Calcio Refereeing Guide, I'm sure of it*) and was the only man sitting on a yellow against a club which wasn't formulating an attack all that well, nor all that much. Boom, Cicinho, with an extra attacking function to boot.
And then the Menez sub was just excellent. More space down to ten men, more of an urgency from Lecce if they had designs towards anything more than their goal difference and Claudio goes in search sof licing the throat as Lecce lies bleeding to death.
You get the feeling he's finding his groove with this team too, aided by the fact that Simplicio has capably worked himself into the system. Or systems. Or maybe just Claudio's heart.
Now if only Ranieri could have a few players available for back-to-back games.
* - I've just been informed Inter's media guide was released just two months ago, so we'll need to wait until next year.
- One thing on Cicinho, though:
How much did Simone charge Claudio for babysitting? Was it an hourly rate or a flat fee? Probably the latter - 15 minutes isn't particularly profitable given all the work he had to put in.
And last but not least: yes, this was Lecce. Yes, there is a certain degree of "take what you can get these days".
Neither hold a tremendous degree of weight here. They weren't perfect, but evolved nicely throughout the game and even, gasp, looked something like a team again.
But we won't know the true score until the second half, Wednesday.