Roma 1 - Lazio 2
Though the red card was that which sparked the loss; that which sparked the red card was all too common, all too familiar.
Maarten Stekelenburg lives on a clothesline. Each and every weekend, he laces up his boots, pulls on his shirt and straps on his gloves to spend ninety minutes being hung out to dry like fresh laundry. That it happened after only seven minutes in the derby makes no difference.
This isn't a surprise, of course, as we expected this all through the summer. This team was to be countered mercilessly by any and all. We knew this would likely occur with frequency through the fall, but into November...December...January...and should it still be so predictable in March? Shouldn't someone somewhere with some iPad, for the love of Instagram, be able to spot the inherent flaws and tweak the vision even slightly, even temporarily? It's not as though they're running some highly complex scheme which will confound even the most profoundly gifted of their time. The pieces just don't yet fit, and they likely won't until the summer, if even then.
Play high, swing the ball around the centerbacks and eventually, Maarten was going to get earn a red through reddish cheeks. That it happened in the most important fixture of the year is unfortunate, but who is surprised? Anyone?
The question - not for us, but for those who matter - is whether or not they're willing to live with this as acceptable risk and inevitability.
Which then alters the lens through which the season is viewed:
Does 2012-13 truly matter independently, or should we simply chuck it away as the rebuilding year they all claim it not to be?
- Nobody deserves to be singled out for a lashing, though Heinze won't be getting any POTW awards and the midfield - another pattern of recent - wasn't quite scintillating. This was simply the inevitable outcome of combining derby tenacity and outlay with playing a man down for nearly ninety minutes. Within the context, it's hard to fault the performance; some may even celebrate it. (Though upon seeing them burst to life in the minutes following the dismissal, you'd imagine none to have been happier than Reja, his eye glinting lustily toward minutes seventy through ninety.)
Luis' record against coaches he's faced once before is just gettin' better and better: 1-2-5. This isn't coincidence. (I've even left Slovan Bratislava off out of mercy and reverence for Fernando Gago.)
- However, the initial lineup was wisely taken. Greco and Rosi aren't exactly the world's most card-adverse footballers, and thrusting their Roman DNA into a derby atmosphere may have spelled a far worse ending.
- Refereeing wasn't ideal in either direction. It's a derby. It doesn't just happen, it's standard fare.
- Marquinho can cross a lot better than he can shoot, apparently. Back when he was a potential hiring, there was some leftback talk in there, no? Considering how mild hit/Hiroshima Jose Angel can be, giving 'quinho an extended trial in that spot might just be wise.
- That said, something rather important was taken from this game.
Champions League is simply not going to happen - regardless of how LE feels - and the Europa League will remain a battle. Would it be wise to lessen the chances at some second-tier UEFA action by running out the children each weekend in order to gain some much needed, long-term beneficial Serie A experience? Who knows, perhaps they will come good and surprise us in the process.
If there is to be a silver lining, it's that there is now so little to lose as so much is already lost.