The application of blunt trauma to the testicles.
The hollow, numbing pain that starts in the cockles and spreads outward like an ink blot on manuscript. The first reaction is to keel over in agony, perhaps by reducing the tension on the abdominals some of the pain will dissipate? It does not. It thuds against the internal organs, each heartbeat transmitting further agony around the torso and out to the extremities.
It is a physical assault that is accompanied by a cover-sheet of humiliation that draws the gaze of passers-by. A low moan escapes the clenched teeth and rocking head as all other bodily functions immediately switch to autopilot to focus all consciousness towards resting the thumping pain.
After a while, the pain dulls. The accosted figure can stand. But as they hobble away the aftershock of the trauma remains firmly seeded in the pit of their soul.
Today I was punched in the balls and you were punched in the balls. AS Roma was punched in the balls.
Yeah I guess we can all shrug our shoulders and say, ‘Roma Happened’ but this time it is just that little bit more personal. This wasn’t losing against a parked bus in Sicily, this was the failure to grasp an absurdly fantastic opportunity.
Roma in a nutshell. For the uninitiated, welcome. Enjoy the implacable fury and hollow pit of injustice.
Rudi started this match with a defence of Manolas and Astori at CB accompanied by Florenzi on the right and Holebas on the left. Let me say that again.
Rudi started this match (an away, super-duper important must-win match) with a defence of Manolas and Astori at CB accompanied by Florenzi on the right and Holebas on the left. You’ll rue the day you crossed us, injury gods!
Presumably to lend a hand to poor old Astori and Manolas, he opted to play both DDR and Keita along with Ninja in the midfield. While Ljajic kept his spot alongside the predictable duo of Totti and Gervinho.
The game was being played in an empty stadium. Except UEFA forgot to tell CSKA Moscow that and the vociferous collection of chanting and singing ‘stadium attendants and journalists’ located conveniently to the rear of the television cameras.
It gave the match the feel as though it was an Under-7s game being played on a Saturday morning at the local oval. Albeit the local oval was 10-25 degrees colder than it should have been and most of the parents watching their kiddies had been generously warmed up on copious quantities of vodka to stay warm.
So here comes the hard part. Reading a story when you already know that the ending makes you want to tip over large fish tanks and curse at old ladies as they attempt to cross the street. So I’ll try and keep it brief and stick to the main points.
The first half can generally be summed up by Roma seemingly conserving energy with slow build ups and waiting for Totti to thread a magnificent ball to someone running through the defence. CSKA are not a good team. They are nothing special on the ball and resorted to wasteful long shots rather than attempting to cut in behind our woefully inadequate full-backs.
In the 36th minute Florenzi had a terrific chance to do a Maicon, after being put through with a custom weighted Il Capitano special. Unfortunately Ale was unable to banana the ball off the outside of his right boot and the shot flashed across the face.
Morgan, after earlier confirming his complete inability to distribute the ball safely, was forced to make a big save when Doumbia was put through down the right hand side of the defence. Morgan got his legs apart and put the family jewels right in harms way to keep the Russians at bay.
Florenzi managed to get forward and beat two tackles before being hacked down just on the edge of the CSKA penalty area. I guess we now refer to this space as the Juventus penalty zone. Up stepped Adem and Totti. Who would take it and would they go for power or precision?
De Rossi and Keita made themselves nuisances in the defensive wall and then in the millisecond right before Francesco made contact, both players dived down as though a grenade had just landed in between them.
Totti’s shot rocketed like a projectile fired from a T-80 Russian tank encroaching on Ukrainian sovereign soil (solidarity friends!). It was delivered perfectly through the spot where DDR and Keita had stood and launched into the top corner of the net before it had a chance to sonic-boom its way to the international space station.
Bow down to greatness. This man is beginning to over-achieve sporting superlatives. Seriously, what more can you tell people apart from just showing them clips of his career? Oh and by the way, did I mention he is still very, very good looking?
As the half ended things were looking pretty much sweet. Roma were clearly better on the ball and were the more dangerous side. CSKA had suffered a number of yellow cards for late challenges and were sure to be vulnerable to swift counters as they surged forward in the second half.
Well that second half sucked. It really sucked. It sucked a golf ball through a godamn hose pipe.
Time and time again Roma gave away possession and allowed CSKA to launch wave upon wave of attacks on the goal mouth. Fortunately these clowns kept on pinging in crosses which both Manolas and Astori dealt with expertly time after time.
By the 70th minute I think it is fair enough to say everyone was starting to shit bricks. There were few convincing movements being made on the ball and everyone was looking awfully tired.
Rudi brought on Iturbe for Gervinho when everyone thought he would take off Ljajic. Iturbe rewarded his coach by losing the ball with a nightmare first touch after being put in a super position by his captain.
Both Ljajic and Nainggolan had fantastic chances to put the game to bed when clean through on goal. Both of their shots lacked the requisite power and Ninja’s dragged wide.
The tension continued to mount as CSKA kept their Red Army traditions alive and well with wave after wave of attacks crashing against the determined invading Roman defence. And then in the 81st minute Rudi went for the presumably symbolic gesture of subbing on Strootman for Radja.
This was some serious Stalingrad rate decision making right here. Why the hell would you siege and attempt to subjugate the city when the Caucus oil fields you seek lie past it? Just leave enough troops to protect your flank and continue your advance to the objective!
But oh no, we had to go for the pretty picture, the propaganda victory!
I love Kevin Strootman, I think he is the complete football package. But surely this isn’t the game to be playing him back into form. Sure enough big Kev was completely out of sync with his teammates and was unable to dominate the midfield as much as he would have liked. The removal of Radja – as gassed as he was – removed a significant barrier in the Roma defence.
Ljajic made way for Pjanic in the 85th and it took a wonderful arse block from Holebas to deny a scrappy goal box volley that was assisted by Iturbe’s shitful clearance.
Surely that was our last scare?
As the three minutes of injury time ticked away a crucial turnover took place during an inexplicably naive Roma counter-attack. The Russians stormed towards Florenzi’s wing and then their defender Berezutskiy launched a seemingly innocuous ball forward into the mixer. For the first time of the match, no Roman head steered it clear and it managed to continue on its line and into the net, possibly scraping the fingers of a bewildered MDS who must have not have been aware that the match was still going on.
Fist to testicles. Insert your favourite swear words here.
It was at this point that I threw my pen. I threw it far. It was all I had in my hands at the time. When I finally retrieved it the top had been irreparably destroyed.
This game, this godamn painful and oh so heart achingly unjust game!
Make no mistake about it, Roma should have won here. We are certainly better than CSKA Moscow, injuries or not. The chances were there, the ref was ok, we had enough ball… yeah you get the drift. Now is not the time for rationality nor deep analysis.
Given the result of the City v Bayern match, Roma now sit equal on points with their next opponents. A win at a raging Olimpico is now no longer a luxury but a necessity. This is the sort of match we all live for. The stakes have once again been raised.
Before I sign off and go yell at people on the street I thought I’d send out a big Happy Thanks Giving to all our US based Romanistasses. We salute your conquest of those turkeys! For the rest of you, have a good nights sleep and go back to your lives.