Did I already tell you I love animals?
If AS Roma is sometimes mockingly called AS Francesco Totti, then we might as well rename Udinese Calcio into Di Natale FC. A tale of two T's: Totti and Toto. You see, apart from a very decent 80's rock band ("I bless the rains down in Aaaafricaaaaaaa"), Toto is also Udine's symbol. A talisman, a key player for more than ten years. Born in 1977, one year after our Francesco, Di Natale manages to fight against the hands of time, just like our capitano. 14 goals this season, at the age of 37. He's like fine wine and still delivers the goods.
There was a time when Di Natale was heavily linked with Roma, but unfortunately we never witnessed an attacking combo of Toti (Tito, Tototi?). I'm sure that combination would've worked like a charm. Like the duo Totti-Cassano back in the day. Alas, Di Natale still proudly wears the zebra colors of Udinese Calcio, from Northern Italy. But one has to wonder: what if? What if Antonio followed the footsteps of that other Antonio, our Peter Pan? We'll never know... But it sure made my spider sense tingle.
What we do know is that a win on Sunday will bring us damn close to the Champions League group stage of 2015-2016. Thanks to the good people of the FIGC, Roma plays three home games in a row while Lazio must travel to Sampdoria and Napoli, plus the überimportant derby, plus a Coppa Italia final. That's plain suicidal. Roma on the other hand
can still win the Scudetto entertain two teams who are already in a holiday modus. Udinese and Palermo, place 14 and place 11 respectively. No relegation worries, no European hopes. The road is paved nicely for a final sprint towards the finish line. Lazio look like a serious hurdle but after this weekend (Sampdoria and Roma win at home), things could look really ugly for the Laziale. They could even drop to fourth spot, after Napoli.
How amusing this may sound to Romanistasses around the world, let's take it one step at a time, shall we? The situation for tomorrow: Florenzi is suspended, Castan/Maicon/Gervinho/Strootman injured. No real disasters there, although the suspension of Florenzi might be worrisome, with both Gervinho and Maicon out. Pjanic is not 100% so will Rudi opt for an ugly Keita-DDR-Radja trio or shift towards a 4-2-3-1? Nah, who are we kidding? All hail the 4-3-3 and a midfield made of concrete and bad hair choices!!
Totti and Itarbo (guess which players I combined, winner gets a signed T-shirt from Ahmed Barusso and a blond lock of hair from Wilhelmsson) look set to be the frontline but feel free to throw Ljajic or Doumbia in there around the hour mark. Ucan and Paredes will likely rot on the bench, although we could really use some creativity in midfield while the Roman defence looks and speaks Greek: Torosidis, Manolas and Holebas. Add some Italian flair with Astori and Morgan et voila, those are the men who need to lead Roma to glory. Please, hold your enthusiasm people. Ahem...
Honestly, there's nothing left for me to say now. Roma's fate is in its very own hands. When you are second with only three games left to play, there are no excuses. Dealing a blow to Lazio before the derby arrives is mighty welcome. A possible gap of 4 points means Roma can prepare in a sorta kinda relaxed way. Everything's a bonus these days.
So even though the Giallorossi only entertain Udinese (led by former Roma youth coach Stramaccioni) tomorrow, I suggest you closely monitor Lazio's game this evening. A good start is half the battle. After that we can begin to worry about Di Natale FC.