For weeks people have been discussing desirable Champions League knockout stage draws. Planning for a party without having an occasion for a party. Obviously, the same people are looking at Europa League draws now without a moment's hesitation. That's just the way it goes. Stop. Think. Life moves on and you don't have to dwell in a loss but if you keep putting it behind you as soon as the final whistle blows you'll never learn.
All that was required was a nil-nil draw. Has anyone watched Roma this season? This isn't 2013-14 where we allowed the fewest number of shots per match across all of Europe. We came into this match on the back of shaky goalkeeping, huge defensive lapses, no cleansheets in a month and four goals in the back of our net in the past two matches. It wasn't going to happen. Win and you're in. That's how it should be. Relying on other fixtures to see your own outcome is a weak and pathetic position to take anyway. Do you let external factors decide your fate in your personal life? Come on. If you want to be a major player or a big club, you don't let someone else make your decisions for you.
What went wrong? For starters, this match never should have been as important as it ended up being. Though, it sure made for an exciting tie and somewhat poetic headline to advance on the last match day in front of a passionate home crowd. Perhaps the writing was on the wall in the last second collapse in Russia, but by the sound of things most people in the stadium aren't too shocked by the result.
The match started out well enough. With some killer instinct it could have been over in the opening twenty, twenty-five minutes of the match. In all honestly, expecting Holebas to score again so soon would have been a tall ask. Even with his (relatively) good form, he's not the kind of player who you can rely on winning a "Cup Final" as Rudi Garcia called it. However, if Roma had continued into the second half the same way they began the first, the result might have been different. But for one reason or another Roma sat back and invited pressure, and eventually the inevitable happened. This behaviour isn't new. Roma started well when Bayern Munich came to visit, too. Try a little hard and if it doesn't work just give up? Wish for the best? Then fall apart the moment it goes against you? This fragile mind in the squad isn't new. It's something ingrained in Roma for a long time.
It's easy to blame individuals or the tactics. Ultimately it's a game and that's where a big chunk of finger pointing should probably go. Rudi Garcia has already done the expected and talked about how Roma were always outsiders and that Roma were simply not as lucky as Manchester City. The truth is that the result isn't all that surprising, perhaps the same way someone decided to add a shot of peppermint to my routine coffee this morning - it just had to be one of those days. Even before the match Rudi was talking about how Roma had already met or exceeded expectations by still being in a position to advance despite being a pot 4 club. While he's technically right, there's no answer for the collapse in Moscow. Roma slipped up and got what it deserved. We weren't terrible today, but there wasn't enough to say that the result was unjust. We slipped up in Russia but had a chance to make it right. We didn't. A moment of brilliance from Samir Nasri proved to be the tiniest of differences, but it's all too common now. If it's not one thing it's another. It's routine. It's Roma.
Some Romanisti will be upset, while others will find reasons to not be. It's okay to be upset. Especially if you expected your club to be able to pull through after being put into a great position to do so. Roma were outsiders in the beginning but were given an enormous opportunity to advance but they couldn't do it. There was an opportunity the past weekend to gain ground on Juventus in the league against no problemo Sassuolo, too, but that didn't happen either. That's how it works. By not working. It's bitter. Knowing deep down that it's never going to happen. I'm exaggerating, but that's how it feels. There's a chance it will, and perhaps one day it will, but something always happens. It's what makes the good times mean something special when they do come around. It's been a while.
It's natural for fans to constantly evaluate and adjust their expectations. Many who talked about making it to the quarterfinals with the help of a lucky draw with Monaco or whomever else will pretend they never did that. They will lay in bed tonight trying to convince themselves that it's better this way because now Roma can focus on Serie A. Tell yourself that it's better this way because now the youngsters will have an opportunity to play since the Coppa Italia isn't enough. Tell yourself whatever you need to. Roma isn't going anywhere. We'll likely be back in the competition next year. We can try again. It's all positive but you can't erase the looks on the players' faces today. They all knew they had a chance. They all wanted it, too. Maybe that's the worst part. Wanting something to work so bad but knowing it's just not going to. It's toxic. Maybe it'll work one day in a different time, but not right now. Til then, arrivederci Roma.