I’ve had a rather trying week.
After excessive partying in a number of cities, largely as an attempt to make it through the international break, I had developed a horrific bout of the Man Flu. As such, most of my week consisted of lying prostrate on the couch bemoaning my throbbing headache and fever and the lack of action I could take to remedy this.
Just like a certain Associazione Sportiva Roma!
All week they’ve been stuck with the sniffles following the Juve scandalo two weeks prior. The international break made it all the more frustrating as the lack of action on the park just fuelled the media bollocks obsessed with the Juve Roma conspiracies.
Both Roma and I needed the Flying Donkeys in our lives and we needed them at home.
Rudi may have raised a few eyebrows with his starting XI, featuring Totti on the left of Destro with Ljajic getting a shot on the right.
The midfield was at full strength with DDR making his long awaited return at the expense of the injured Keita alongside the inform Ninja and Pjanic.
Morgan returned between the sticks behind MB and Astori, filling in for the suspended Greek Phalanx. While Cole got an interesting selection at left back and Maicon remained on the right of the defence.
Rudi appeared keen to trot out a strong squad to nick an early goal or two and then chill like Winston for the remainder, ahead of Tuesday night’s date with the beer swilling Bavarians.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I found it a little difficult finding a decent stream with a suitable language for my non-Italian speaking housemate and I. About a minute after kickoff I got hooked up with a good Whittle commentating one and barely had time to find a decent arse groove in the couch before Roma had a corner.
Pjanic curved in a dangerous ball at the near post and Boom! A bearded Roma head rocketed it into the net. At first I thought it was Astori, but the swag of the young gentleman jumping the advertising boards dispelled such lies. Mattia Destro! Mr Right, sent the best reminder to all and sundry of his aerial threat, scoring his third goal for the season.
So this is the bit where Roma sit back and start to look a little fragile, right? Not on your nelly! Not this Roma, not under Rudi!
The return of De Rossi and De Sanctis provided a reassuring presence and was the perfect cushion for Astori to get back into the swing of things. Meanwhile Totti kept scooping outrageous passes over the Chievo midfield.
Roma were once again looking far more dangerous down the right channel with big Dougie and Ljajic combining nicely, while Destro in centre of attack provided an aerial threat that took the onus of dribbling off the wings who could now aim in crosses.
You got the sense Adem knew he was playing for his future position in the side as he tracked back relentlessly and moved forward with purpose. In the 15th minute Totti received a killer ball from DDR deep in midfield, turned and floated an exquisite loft into the stride of Ljajic’s right boot. But sadly the wayward Serbian could only slice it into the running track much to the annoyance of the packed stadio.
Then in the 24th minute, Ljajic received a Totti pass deep on the right side of the Chievo defensive area. He moved forward with confidence, shimmied until he got within range and then unleashed an explosive right footed drive curving past the keeper with the outside of his foot into the net. Holy-Nutella-Balls! What a finish! This pile-driver was Maicon-esque.
Two early goals to the young attackers in the side who arguably needed a confidence boost the most. Rudi’s strategy executed to the absolute centimetre (the metric system is without question the most suitable for sports analogies).
The mentality of this team is immense. Rudi had them breathing fire even at 2-0 up. The frustrating fortnight we had endured was being exorcised in the best way possible, nella campo.
And then in the 31st minute, for reasons apparent only to the divine one and perhaps a Singaporean betting agency (Not in Italian Calcio!), the Flying Donkey’s Dainelli felt compelled to put his arm around the neck of De Rossi as a Pjanic corner was played in. You can’t do that, mate.
Up stepped Il Capitano, Ur Purpone, La Bimbo di Oro, to the penalty spot.
Well you know the rest, don’t you?
Of course he went right, but he blasted that ball like it had been carrying nearly two-weeks of Juve tainted frustrations within it as it nearly burst through the netting in the top right. Simply, unsavable. 237 goals. Two hundred and thirty-seven. Thumb in mouth celebration, I knew it, you knew it, the Flying Donkeys knew it. Ce solo UN capitano!
Seriously, why bother going to a real church when you can watch Totti play once a week?
The half played on with much the same rhythm, Chievo laboriously working the ball forward into Roma’s final third only to see it sling-shot back at them with pace down the right of the field with one-touch passes. Totti kept dropping deep and was never picked up, creating absolute mayhem inside the gap between Chievo’s defence and midfield which appeared at times to be acres wide.
The entire stadio held their breath when Totti received the ball near the left hand corner of the Chievo area. He touched the ball into space on his right and unleashed a curling monster that no doubt had Florenzi’s nonna standing up out of her chair. It flew past the keeper but didn’t quite curl enough, missing the far post by a whisker. Had that gone in, it would have blown a hole in the Stadio Olimpico.
The rest of the half petered out with Roma’s foot tightly pressed on Chievo’s throat. 3-0 to the good guys, not a bad 45 minutes of work.
The second half was never really going to offer anything. Morgan made a terrific save with his boot against Paloschi, which was called offside (wrongly) anyway.
In the 55th minute Totti unleashed an extravagant first-touch volley from just inside the corner of the area, from a killer Ninja* loft. The keeper scrambled in time and kept it out, much to the annoyance of the majority of the calcio world.
And then five minutes later the great man was substituted to a standing ovation.He left the field with a big grin on his face as his Roman protégé, Florenzi came on.
This meant that Roma’s entire attacking three (Destro, Flo, Adem) were all born in 1991. Making your humble scribe feel decidedly senior and reflect upon a wasted youth.
In the 68th minute Paredes came on for Pjanic to face the club he was loaned to last season. And at this point my stream died for a while. So I’m going to go ahead and assume nothing of import took place.
The other highlight of the second half saw Ucan summoned by Rudi to make his Serie A debut. He stood on the sidelines for what seemed like an absolute eternity as the ball pinged about from on end to the other without actually going out. "Kick out you, bastards!" He bellowed in Turkish. Eventually he came on with a couple of minutes left for the mercurial Ninja who once again put in an absolute commanding display in the centre of the park.
And that is pretty much all she wrote on this one.
Absolute dominating performance from the get go against a team who were utterly inferior in all aspects of the game. Of course, this is the part in the article where I remind everyone how in years gone by this match was certainly less of a formality, even after going two up in the first half. Lets all just count our lucky stars that we had this fixture at home.
I like to think Rudi made reference to Shakespeare during his post-match speech to the lads. This was a win for every kid who had to sit and persist through that Romeo and Juliet bullshit.
"Ooooohhhhh, I live in Verona and like this girl called Juliet, but our families are sworn enemies. Better go guzzle some poison."
Swipe left on the Tinder and move on, you Flying Donkey’d *&^%$, Romeo!
*one of you pricks on twitter a few weeks ago had a go at me for spelling Nainggolan’s name wrong, so I’m sticking with Ninja.