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The Achilles Groin

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SOCCER/EUROPA

Panathinaikos 3 - Roma 2

A stiff wake-up call. Perhaps things had been a bit too good, a bit too easy, and it's back to reality before the big domestic run. And if we were to grasp for the silver lining, this is a reversible cup result, not a devastating shoulda-won loss in Serie A. If anything, it's Cagliari 2.0 with fewer ramifications.

Because, at the end of the day, the big prize lies in Serie A.

Notes:

  • I know Burdisso and Juan have formed a nice little partnership, but I've never quite understood how Burdisso is thought of as anything but a firm third in the pecking order. He's very good, and has been a tremendous acquisition (of sorts), but Philippe Mexes & Juan displayed over the course of years their partnership ascends this team beyond realistic expectation. They're simply, when on, the best centerback partnership in Serie A.

    I suspect Burdisso's going to be back to third shortly.

  • Training reports rarely enthrall me. Tomorrow, I'll be anxious to find out just how many hours are spent on set-piece defending. Over/under: 2.5.
  • Baptista, Menez, Cerci is a tactical tridente akin to trying to cross the Pacific with a bus, a moped, and a fat guy wearing floaties with still questionable buoyancy. All of them - most of them - will get you somewhere, but not everywhere. Which means part of this hangs on Ranieri.
  • Alessio's back from the dog house - albeit on probation. And he's still on dry food.
  • Adrian Pit makes this a 4-3 win.

    Just sayin'.

  • Motta was skinned a la Kosice so many times he may have been deked so far out of confidence he's back in.
  • This losing to pun-begging European opposition is really getting old. 'Roma's Greek Tragedy' - a headline of such omnipresence right now you'll hit it should throw anything into your address bar this side of Esperanto - is every bit the nails-on-chalkboard of 'Roma Without A Cluj' from yore.
  • The need for a striker, any striker, at the end was incredibly glaring. Since Okakachukamuthafucka didn't make the bench today, perhaps there's a joint custody in agreement here: Roma get him midweek, Fulham get him for weekends and every other Christmas celebrated with that new whore.
  • Menez is trying. That's all you can ask. Well, not "all", but he is.

    Cerci, on the other hand, looked every bit the biz both times he sluiced into the box. And he even passed once! He also got his once-a-half yellow, which is why he's never allowed to play more than 45 minutes. That and he's allergic to playing well from the starting lineup. (Imagine if this team were playing 11 Romans? They'd finish with 5 every week.)

    I still say if you were to combine the DNA of Cerci and Menez a superfootballer would emerge. Or the poor man's Totti.

  • Doni's lost the mojo. He wasn't entirely to blame for any of the goals, not much blame even, but he was completely and utterly lost out there, a decided lack of match fitness and perhaps confidence.

    There's every chance the match "fitness" - or whatever the hell you call it for a keeper - will increase in the future, but the confidence is as low as it go.

  • And with that, no word on Julio Sergio yet. Wait and pray, because he's been nothing short of saintly this year.