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Totti Today #74: Old Lady, new tricks

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August 30, 2009. That was Spalletti’s last game in charge during his first stint with AS Roma. Against Juventus. Ironically yesterday’s game, also against Juventus, was Spalletti’s first ‘real’ match of his Roma 2.0 (let’s forget Hellas for once second, shall we).

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Roma-Juventus 1-3. That result meant the exit of Luciano Spalletti. The year was 2009 and both teams looked a lot different than now. Of the current team only Dani and Totti were present that day. From the Juventus 11 only Buffon, Chiellini and Marchisio. 6,5 years indeed is a long time. Brazilian duo Diego and Melo paved the way for the Bianconeri. Yet, Roma ended higher than Juve in the final standings that season, a lot higher actually. Thanks to Ranieri. Roma ended second, Juve seventh (!). Ah, post-calciopoli times,oh how I missed thee.

After the 1-3 defeat, it was said that Luciano’s time in Rome simply was up. A bit like Garcia 2 weeks ago. The end of a cyclus. People said Luciano’s magic had worn off. Curiously, anno 2016 Roma once again put their fate in the bald man’s hands and rely on that same old magic from 2009 to defeat Juve. Although…. Same old magic? Reports last week …. errrr, reported that Spalletti could possibly field a 3-4-2-1 formation against Allegri’s men. Daniele to accompany Manolas and one of Rudiger/Castan at the back, Digne and Florenzi as wing-backs with Radja in the hole, behind Sala hand Dzeko up front.

Oh my. A system with a lot of history and reputation Rome. You know, the Holy Year 2001. That was even longer ago than 2009 (yes, I’m good at math, sexy isn’t it?). 56-year-old Luciano who chose a totally different tactic than his 4-2-3-1. It seems like you can indeed teach an old dog new tricks. But was it enough to beat a red hot Juventus? A team which took Serie A by storm lately, 10 wins on the trot? Could even 3 central defenders hold off Dybala and Pogba?

Unfortunately not. The result itself, a narrow 1-0 defeat, wasn’t the end of the world and it’s not a shame to lose away to the 4 times defending champions and the best team of the league right now. But what bothers me is that we still haven’t seen anything to get really enthusiastic about. On the contrary, guys like Salah, Dzeko, Florenzi and Pjanic are struggling even more than before. While all those previously mentioned players are undeniably talented. On the other hand, seeing Dani in defence is a breath of fresh air while also Nainggolan is seemingly enjoying life under Spalletti.

We all knew Roma had a problem, but we didn’t expected it to be THIS big. Not even the shock therapy from our management, a new trainer, could address this. In short, we should be concerned about our Giallorossi, very concerned. I know 10 days of training don’t mean a thing compared to an entire summer camp of preparation but it seems the ghost of Rudi is here to stay for a little while longer. The news of El Sharaawy replacing Yao on the team won't solve our problem, same old, same old...

Luckily there are still more than enough chances for Luciano to redeem himself and please the crowd, starting with Frosinone. That fixture looks a lot like Hellas: An easy obstacle on the road, a clearly inferior team visiting the Olimpico. Yet it feels so treacherously because everyone expects an easy peasy win, but it won’t be one.

Why? Because this is AS Roma we’re talking about. It’s in her DNA to once again make it a nervous and shaky afternoon, although it shouldn’t be. And she has been that way for almost 90 years now.

I guess you can’t teach all old dogs new tricks after all...