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Totti Today #14: Over the mountain

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Napoli and Bayern. Sure they make nice city trips for your average sandal wearing European tourist, but for a football team there are better alternatives to face in the space of five days. Nevertheless, Roma has to deal with them in a short period of time. Napoli was a painful display. But now comes the really tricky part. An even bigger mountain than Napoli’s Vesuvius.

Paolo Bruno

Alright, I know there are no mountains in München but you get the picture, smart ass. I think I can safely say Roma’s first half at the San Paolo was, ahem, not a pleasure to watch. In fact, it was one of the worst halves I saw this season and maybe even under Rudi’s guidance. The second half was better but Roma were still far too lazy in their build-up and error-prone in defence. Torosidis was below-par, Gervinho frustrating to watch after every failed dribble attempt, Totti was never in the game and Iturbe/Destro couldn’t turn things around. Napoli even made a second goal after a quick counter attack (which was avoidable). Only Morgan and Radja put up a fight but you never win a game with 2 players vs 11.

Higuain’s goal obviously haunted us from the start, we basically started the game one nil down, but a draw was always a possibility until the 2-0. Luckily Roma still have a 4-point-cushion over Napoli and 3 over Sampdoria but we can’t let our advantage go to waste. In the midst of Champions League battles, every point is crucial and very very welcome. Saturday was Roma’s second 'acceptable' defeat in Serie A, Juve and Napoli away are maybe the two most difficult games this season in Italy and Roma is now relieved of both of them. Welcoming Juve and Napoli at the Olimpico in the second and more important part of the season is obviously a big plus for us(thanks FIGC!).

So yeah, ugly defeat but don’t let this one get too much in your head. Benitez outsmarted Garcia, 90% of our players didn’t show up (fysically yes, mentally no). Another lesson learned. But boy we are in for another big valuable lesson by teacher Pep and his class on Wednesday…

Another 7-1 is unthinkable and will probably not happen again. Rudi must and will have learned from the earlier confrontation. It’s time to be crystal clear about this one: a draw will be celebrated like a 1-7 win by Roma. Hold down the floodgates long enough, try to frustrate Bayern and provoke them. That shouldn’t be a problem with players like Keita, Daniele, Radja, Gervinho and Totti. This is not a decision-maker, Moscow in two weeks time is. We’re in a difficult part right now but so are the other teams, everybody hurts (Milan, Inter, Fiorentina, Juve last week).

But we need a stellar performance ASAP. A home win against Cesena is nice but hardly a standard of value. A point in München is. Rudi must prove he’s flexible while a lot of our players need to get their heads out of their *sses. Torosidis, Iturbe, Daniele, Pjanic, Gervinho, Florenzi,… need to step up their game if Roma wants even half a chance to grab something in Germany. Until then, avoid any more injuries and pray for fast recoveries of Castan and Strootman. And a lower liquor/beer prices. This ain’t over yet, it’s just the beginning.

Napoli and Bayern. Over these mountains they must climb to come back as a better, stronger unit. To reinvent themselves. To turn into a revamped Roma side, Roma 2.0 if you'd like. But if one already falters so easily at the foot of the Vesuvius, how on earth will he manage to survive in the Himalayas?