Question: would you trade the win on Sunday for a win against City, thus losing the Genoa match? Yes? Let it sink in for a minute. Most of you probably will, thinking about the huge amount of money and prestige involved in Europe’s most, errrr, prestigious competition. Progressing from such a group of death, leaving Roma’s stamp on the European scene… But I’d beg to differ, would like to play the devil’s advocate here and stress the importance of the obtained 3 points in Genoa.
Roma is now one single point behind leaders Juve, who drew for the second time in a row. The season looks (and is) still long but I believe this result could prove very vital at the end. Remember Genoa is a top 3 team, it was an away match and Roma’s bad history of failed and missed chances. Lazio, Milan and Juve all left the Marassi empty-handed, Roma didn’t. And are now even more firmly in second place. Yeah, the Champions League was nice and all and a place in the next round would have been a huge succes after being drawn in such a difficult group. But you know, Europa League is cosy as well, no? There’s always next season as Roma will surely qualify for it a second year in a row.
It looks to me the win in Genoa might be a real turning point of the season, one where Roma finally took advantage of Juve’s missteps (unlike Sassuolo) and is able to dig out hard-fought victories in hostile environments. Pretty much like last season. You don’t win or lose championships by defeats in Juve or Napoli. It’s the smaller and trickier affaires like Genoa, Cagliari, Atalanta or Sassuolo. Sassuolo was a defunct, on Sunday it ended well, although I saw a lot of fear in our play, panicky, nerves,… Sassuolo obviously still haunted them. Yet Roma hung on and left the Marassi with 3 points and some bitch fights, involving Holebas. It’s human. And great amusement for the crowd.
Although the recent quality of play leaves a lot to be desired, Roma ironically remains Italy’s in-form team, with a record of 10/12 in the last 4 games. No one does a better job. And it leaves the race for the Scudetto wide open again, tighter as ever. Juve’s next games: Cagliari and Napoli away, Inter at home. With Udinese and Milan somewhere in February. Roma’s schedule is no walk in the park either, but at least they don’t have to worry about the CL anymore in 2015, assuming Rudi will try out some new things and rotate more in the EL (because who cares about CL’s little brother anyway?). Rudi and the players don’t beat around the bush: they oppenly said their focus is entirely on Serie A now. And Radja’s goal made things even more interesting in the Peninsula.
So yes, I wouldn’t want to trade the Genoa win for a CL extension, unlike most people. We had some nice moments (the 5-1, Totti’s goals in Moscow and Manchester) but we would get butchered by most of the remaining teams anway. And we don’t want another 1-7 on our plate, do we? The journey was short and sweet, a heavy emotional ride like we all expected it to be in September. And most of the young ones gained valuable experience. But there’s always next season, with hopefully a favorable draw.
We can’t say the same thing about Serie A. It’s a long, demanding road and players work hard for it week in, week out. If you’re -1 from the first spot after 15 games, it’s time to reflect. To aim higher. You can’t let all the hard work go to waste. It’s wins like the one of Genoa that we enjoy and savour the most in the end, ones you maybe don’t deserve but earn by not giving up. It creates chemistry, a bond among the players.
With Juve showing the first small signs of declining, Radja’s goal simply came in the right place, at the right time. Minute 40 of Genoa-Roma will be overlooked in most history books. Not in mine.