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Totti Today #18: José’s lucky ring

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Was it Daniele being omitted from Roma’s starting 11? The comeback of Maicon? Was it the return of Mancini as an Inter trainer to the Olimpico? Holebas’ inner Messi moment? Maybe it was the concurrence of all four of them that made Roma-Inter a memorable clash. Another rollercoaster week in Romaland…

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Would the last minute CSKA goal creep in the minds of the players? How would the team react after such a cold Russian slap in the face? Turns out our fears were not justified. Roma responded in style, for God’s sake even José Holebas scored a wonder goal. There was so much to get excited about. Yes, Roma condeded two avoidable goals but they did score four, honouring the famous Zeman Philospohy: score one more than your opponent and you’ll be fine. And the fans like it. Oh boy do they like it.

The first Roma goal was quickly countered by an Inter goal but right after the break, the game turned into a higher gear: a beautiful 2-1, Osvaldo (of all people) scores the equalizer, drama, Pjanic immediately responded with the 3-2, assist by Totti (of all people), Mancini got sent to the stands, even more drama... It was quite simply a magical evening. The result, six goals, the atmosphere, celebrations, despair became joy…

Even though Roma has a reputation of shooting itself in the foot every now and then, the players never gave up and took the lead for a third time, putting the icing on the cake with a great Pjanic FK in stoppage time. Spectators got their money’s worth on Sunday while Roma definitively pulled Inter out of the Scudetto race and maybe even the fight for top 3.

To be honest, I had my doubts at half-time. The signs were bad: Juve’s last gap win earlier on, Roma giving up a lead,… What if Inter countered and made it 1-2? Luckily Holebas’ flash of brilliance arrived right after the break while Miralem’s first goal was probably too much for Mancini’s Inter to handle. But kudos to them for putting up a real fight and giving Roma a hard time.

Again, it was an exciting, thrilling and entertaining game. The ones you hope to see when you prepare yourself in front of the tv or laptop screen. Roma’s defence was shaky at times and there were some wasted chances (Gervinho, Florenzi) but that’s how Rudi’s Roma rolls nowadays. In the end, they didn’t steal the win. Plus, we keep Juve in sight. That duel might go down to the wire until May unlike last season.

But why suddenly this performace? What caused it? Was it coincidence or confidence? Did José Holebas’ tongue ring act as a lucky charm? Did our players simply have a good day? Although it saddens me to say it, I think Keita instead of De Rossi was one of the incentives. Just like Maicon’s comeback and Ljajic’s form the last couple of weeks. It’s ok so say this, some guys are having a great period (Totti, Adem, Radja), some of them are experiencing troubles along the way (Daniele, Iturbe, Destro to some extend).

A trainer should always choose the best eleven, not the eleven best. Hence the obvious choice for Keita and not Daniele. For Ljajic and not Iturbe or Florenzi. For Radja and not Strootman. For Totti and not Destro. For Morgan and not Skorupski. And so on and so on. It’s not physics, it’s fairly easy to understand. But not for the fans of the aforementioned omitted players.

A win in Moscow would have really topped it off. A week to savour. But maybe we expect too much of them lately, after such a hard schedule. And to think the best is yet to come. If Rudi can improve his defence by the 10th of December, then we’re in for another memorable night in the city of Rome. There can never be enough.