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Totti Today #17: Roma’s cold combo challenge

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These are cold times, there’s no denying. Not only in the US but also on the European continent. Roma travelled to the Alps and the city of Moscow in the space of four days. In the end of November. Not exactly your most exotic destinations but there was a lot at stake. So pick up your frozen limbs and fight like men, that was the only way out of this chilly chunk of the season.

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Turtlenecks, gloves, headgear, posters of Kate Upton or Kim Kardashian’s mighty rear… Whatever works to keep a man warm. You know what time it is when you see those things on the football pitch or in a dressing room. Summer is long gone and fall is slowly paving the way for winter. Nevertheless, things were heating up for the Giallorossi. A good result in Moscow was necessary to keep their CL dream alive while a win in Atalanta (with the clash Lazio-Juventus in mind) woulda-coulda-probably see us crawl a bit closer to the Bianconeri at the top of the table. A lot at stake and these cold weather conditions didn’t make it any easier. Plus the bad news of Castan’s brain surgery and Mbiwa’s injury left a huge void at the back, leaving the ManolAStori combo to clean up the mess.

So how did they and Roma fare in these two fixtures?

First up was Atalanta, which is always a rough test. And they have a certain German Denis, who turns into Messi 2.0 when he sees anything red-yellow, as Bren pointed out in his Atalanta preview. Two immediate shocks: Atalanta scored pretty damn fast in the game and it was NOT Denis but Moralez who scored. That’s basically starting a game 1-0 instead of 0-0. Rudi’s Roma eventually took home all 3 points after a very mediocre, at times even boring display. Yet, these are not the times to ask for an unchained free-flowing football show ala Bayern or Real. We’re not Bayern and vice versa. The conditions were tough, currently there are a lot of injuries. With this win Roma boast a 9/12 record from the last four games, with an acceptable loss in Napoli included.

Not too shabby and while we didn’t close the gap with Juve, Roma sure took advantage of the other results. Outside of Roma and Juve, no one from the current top 9 (!) won their game. We simply can’t complain now. We know Rudi’s Roma hasn’t been a consistent joy to watch this season, bar some inspired moments against for example Fiorentina, CSKA at home and the opening stages of Chievo and Torino. Just be grateful for the win (and maybe a couple of ref decisions going our way) and focus on the next game. And that next game, oh boy… Atalanta was only the start of a big week. Inter visits the Olimpico this Sunday but it was Roma’s midweek trip which was stealing the limelight.

The temperature went down even more, but ironically the stakes went up. A win and Roma’s Champions League journey continued. A loss and it was a tiebreaker against City for probably third place and Europa League after New Year. All this with a depleted defence and frozen bottocks. No Torosidis or Maicon on the right, Florenzi had to play makeshift rightback in such a crucial match. The Primavera won this fixture in the Youth League 0-2 and showed the way for Totti and co.

Speaking of Totti… Yeah, nice free-kick. But really, there’s only one thing to talk about: the last-minute goal from CSKA and the sloppy way how it occurred. What a foolish, indescribable, childish, ugly way. Just for the love of God kick the ball in the stands or play it back to Morgan and waste some time. In my opinion, this one hurts 10x more than the 1-7 Bayern defeat. It could all have ended so beautiful, yet Roma shot itself in the foot (again). With a double-barreled shotgun. From point-blank range. The race is wide open, three teams have all to play for.

4/6 is not bad from those two away games, maybe most of us would have signed in advance for those results. But not like this, not like that. Unwanted drama, again. 30 or so seconds were all that separated Roma from securing that second place and lots of money. Less than 30 seconds. That’s shorter than a Schweppes TV spot, an One Direction ringtone or an Adriano YouTube video of his highlights at AS Roma. Sigh. Will they ever learn?

Forget all those complicated formulas and probable outcomes. One thing is certain: City is gonna be one helluva game and it has all the ingredients in store to make it one big unforgettable Roman party. Or nightmare. Depends on how much they’ve learned from their mistakes.