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Roma v Genoa Preview

Winning two out of three matches has suddenly rekindled Roma's European aspirations. The Genoa Cricket and Football Club comes to town looking to stave off relegation, while Andreazzoli's men mustn't be caught table watching.

Gabriele Maltinti

There's a fever sweeping across Rome, let's call it Andreazzoli-itis, while not as far reaching or as all-encompassing as Zemanlandia, Andreazzoli-itis is spreading rapidly following last week's snow blind victory away to Atalanta. Symptoms include rampant pragmatism and surges of partially substantiated optimism.

Whether you're asymptomatic or in the full throws of Andreazzoli-itis, you have to admit winning without the services of Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi, mid-blizzard, mind you, was impressive.

One person feeling the effects of this flu is Silvio Baldini, former Parma head man, who claims our very own Aurelio Andreazzoli is one of Italy's foremost footballing minds:

In my opinion Andreazzoli is one of the best three Coaches in Italy. He is alongside Antonio Conte and Delio Rossi as far as I'm concerned. Aurelio studies the game and has his own ideas. He is a balanced Coach, both in the good times and the bad times...He is an extraordinary person.

While he hasn't exactly re-written the rules of the game yet, Andreazzoli has won two out of his first three matches, including an upset over first place Juventus and last week's battle against Atalanta and Mother Nature, resulting in a conflagration of optimism, with Erik Lamela, among others, claiming the Champions League is still within reach.

If Roma are to reach such lofty heights, it will require some luck and a lot of table watching, but we'll get to that later in the week.

In the meantime, let's focus on the task at hand, Genoa.

Last Match:

Credit Zeman with one thing, at least, he broke the morass at the Marassi, guiding Roma to a 4-2 victory, the Giallorossi's first victory at Genoa since 2007.

But it sure didn't start like that, as Genoa stormed out to a 2-0 lead within the first 15 minutes, with goals from Juraj Kucka and Bosko Jankovic. With the first goal stemming from a Marco Borriello backheel. The former Roma lothario was also involved on Genoa's second goal, crossing the ball to Jankovic who, after striking the woodwork, beat Maarten Stekelenburg.

Totti cut the lead in half in the 28th minute, beating Sebastian Frey with a low shot. Then 16 minutes later, this happened

If ever there were a quintessential Pablo Osvaldo goal, this is surely it; the man does many things well, side volleys foremost among them. Though I suppose, in this instance, you can add being a dutiful son, as he had the foresight to mark Argentinian Mother's Day in t-shirt form. But you have to give credit to Ivan Piris for making that play--that ball was inches away from going over the end line, and not only did he save it, he played it perfectly to a wide open PDO.

PDO struck the eventual game winner in the 55th minute, with Lamela adding another for good measure in the 83rd minute, as Roma left the Luigi Ferraris victorious for the first time in five years.

Sunday's Match:

Genoa saunter down to the Olimpico in 17th place, desperately fighting for Serie A survival. Genoa's -11 goal differential is sixth worse in Serie A, but miles ahead of Pescara's -33. Taking a quick look at the numbers, they should be grateful for even being in 17th place, as their 44% possession and 75% passing are second-to and dead last in the league, respectively.

Quite simply, there's really not much to write about Genoa, beyond the Roman connections of Borriello and Andrea Bertolacci, so let's talk about them.

Borriello really only does one thing, but he does it well...scoring goals, of which he has seven this season. While this isn't a lofty total, it has come in 19 appearances and is good enough for the club lead, two ahead of Ciro Immobile.

Bertolacci's performance, meanwhile, has been solid enough to leave many yearning for his return to Roma. The 22-year old has also made 19 appearances, notching three goals and two assists, while contributing 39 tackles and 11 interceptions on the defensive end. Bertolacci has shown a fair bit of versatility, being deployed as both a deep lying and attacking midfielder, while also making several appearances as a center or left forward.

Beyond those former Romans, Genoa has been getting solid performances from Kucka, Luca Antonelli, Daniele Portanova and Andreas Granqvist.

Genoa has featured a variety of formations this season, none of which have really worked and have been equally susceptible to conceding goals. They do, however, have some success playing long balls, and attacking down the left flank, through which 37% of their attack flows, making them the third leftiest (???) team in the league.

As for Roma, the week is marked by the return of Totti and De Rossi, both back from suspension. Really the only omissions from this week's squad appear to be Mattia Destro and Leandro Castan, which has been the case for several weeks now, though Destro is shooting for an early return, eyeing April's derby for his triumphant return. Funny enough, whoscored has listed Stefano Guberti as a red card suspension all season, must be one big-ass red card.

Andreazzoli's first three weeks have shown a proclivity for the three man defense, whether this is out of necessity or preference is uncertain, but for the time being, Ivan Piris, Nicolas Burdisso and Marquinhos will continue to represent Roma's last line of defense ahead of Stekelenburg.

With the return of Daniele De Rossi, the only real positional battle will be who starts out wide on the left. So far in AA's tenure, we've seen Marquinho and Federico Balzaretti man that spot, though with the absence of Totti and DDR last week, Marquinho The Singular played the more advanced role in Totti's stead, which obviously won't be the case this week, making Balzaretti-Marquinho the defacto positional debate.

Provided Andreazzoli rolls with the 3-4-2-1, you have to put your money on Marquinho getting the nod over Balzaretti, particularly given his strong performance last week, in which he scored a goal, provided four crosses and completed 86% of his passes. Though in all fairness, Balzaretti was fairly solid last week too.

However, the early indications point toward dueling Marquinho(s)' on Roma's left flank, with Miralem Pjanic and Vasilis Torosidis rounding out the midfield alongside DDR and Marquinho. PDO will resume his role as the lone striker, ably supported by Totti and Lamela.

If you're in the mood for some table watching, keep an eye on the Catania-Inter match. The two sides, ahead of Roma by two and four points, respectively, square off in Sicily. Meanwhile sixth place Fiorentina hosts fifteenth place Chievo, and Udinese, hot on Roma's heels, travel to Abruzzo to take on nineteenth place Pescara. So if there is help on the horizon, it won't come easy.

If you weren't already aware, following Roma is a hazardous occupation, where the slightest defeat has throngs of fans fleeing like lemmings to the sea, and winning two out of three garners delusions of grandeur.

We're not a balanced bunch, that's for sure. Perhaps what we're seeing now is just what Roma needs, a coronation of the common; Roma being ruled by the routine. Or perhaps, in a fitting and quintessentially Roman twist, a seemingly insignificant man is prematurely being counted among the league's sharpest minds.

In a sense, that is Andreazzoli's strongest selling point-he has no reputation and comes with no pretense, he simply exists, willing to play the cards he's dealt. For a club as seemingly scatterbrained as ours, Andreazzoli might just be the benign balance we need.

Or he might be shown the door for a man on whom the finest suits drape elegantly. We just don't know and neither does he and it's precisely that lack of prescience, that lack of a defined style that might ultimately save Roma's season.