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'Cause A.S. Roma Has a Way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A

Paolo Bruno - Getty Images

Meso-American prophecies notwithstanding, you get the feeling that Roma fans worldwide wouldn't have minded if doomsday occurred sometime after the Inter match, the performance was that epic, a near flawless execution of attacking football. Instead of hail and brimstone, Roma fans have been left to reckon with sore patellar tendons, thigh strains and bruised ankles.

While we don't yet know how Zeman intends to fill the gaps created by those lousy lower extremities, one thing is certain; the whole of Rome has been fermenting for two weeks, with visions of Zeman being showered with cigarettes, like so much confetti falling during a championship parade.

And that's really the story of this weekend's game, can Roma build upon their enormous momentum?

Bologna isn't the most exciting or staunch of opponents, but let's take a quick look at what they bring to the table and how Roma will dispose of them.

(btw-for those of you not alive in the 1980s or simply not American, the headline is a reference to this).

Like I said, Bologna doesn't exactly make Zeman's presumably nicotine stained fingers tremble with fear, as Roma are undefeated in their last 10 meetings with Bologna across all competitions, but Any Given Sunday is not just a horrible movie, its sports cliché that holds some merit.

Besides, Bologna managed to claw their way to 9th place last season, a mere 5 points behind Roma. However, with Marco Di Vaio moving onto his MLS retirement home, this Bologna team takes on a bit of a different look than that overachieving group. Our old friends Marco Motta and Gianluca Curci have meandered their way to the Rossoblu, as have Alberto Gilardino and Euro 2012 fill-in Alessandro Diamanti, they even have their own Panagiotis (Kone), so there are some more familiar and dangerous names on their roster.

New changes aside, Bologna is not good at calcio, (and presumably sports in general) having taken zero points from their first two matches, conceding 5 goals and scoring only one. Here is where you should give thanks that Di Vaio has moved on to Montreal. Though he wasn't as heralded as the other great Serie A scorers of the past 15-20 years, he does rank in the top 30 all time, including 3 in his last 4 games against Roma. He was always one of those guys you feared would cost Roma what should have been a guaranteed three points in the 90+ minute.

Bologna have featured a 3-5-1ish formation so far this season, so if through some fortune Diamanti, Acquafresca or even Gilardino manage to punch home an early goal, look for them to clog the midfield even more to protect that lead. This would've been more of a concern for Enrique's Roma, but something tells me Zeman knows how to erase a deficit with relative ease.

But as the season is only two matches old, it's a bit hard to draw any tactical conclusions about Bologna, but the statistics in their first two matches show a team bereft of possession and short on attempts, with zero goals from open play. When they do manage to string together an attack, it usually funnels from the right flank towards the center of the pitch, with over 50% of their shots coming outside of the 18-yard box; an offensive juggernaut they are not. With Balzaretti looking to start at LB, might Bologna shift their attack to exploit Ivan Piris?

Whatever the case may be, the statistics show an anemic offensive team with a porous central defense, begging to be eviscerated by the Roman forwards

So what about the rest of Zeman's crew?

Roma received a bit of relief on Friday afternoon, as Francesco Totti returned to training and should be good to go for Sunday. But the squad will still be without Daniele De Rossi (thigh), Michael Bradley (quad) and Pablo Osvaldo (unbridled enthusiasm), while Federico Balzaretti and Leandro Castan appear to be a game time decisions, though the early signs point towards their inclusion in the lineup. So the cupboards aren't exactly bare, but the fine china has a few streaks on it.

With all that uncertainty, Zeman has been forced to mix and match his lineups in practice. The aforementioned Balzaretti has been paired with Rodrigo Taddei Was a Good Day (warning: link contains naughty language) in the fullback rotation, while a midfield combo of Miralem Pjanic, Copy & Paste, and Alessandro Florenzi has made a few appearances on the training pitch. Whatever the case may be, some combination of Totti, Mattia Destro, Erik Lamela and possibly even Nico Lopez should be enough to topple Bologna, as Zeman figures to exploit their central defense repeatedly.

This will be the first of three games in ten days, so hopefully history and the unwavering mass of momentum behind Roma lead towards a quick, decisive victory over Bologna. Its just a shame PDO is out, if ever there were a match begging for a hat trick, this is surely it.

Squad List:

Balzaretti, Burdisso, Castan, Destro, Goicoechea, Florenzi, Lamela, Lopez, Lucca, Marquinho, Marquinhos, Piris, Pjanic, Romagnoli, Stekelenburg, Svedkauskas, Tachtsidis, Taddei, Tallo, Totti