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Totti Today #105: A Problem Between Two Poles

A plethora of words has already been spoken about Roma's two main departments this season: attack and defence. While our frontline has been hailed as fast, dynamic, strong and lethal, our defence has seen its fair share of misery and injuries. But there's another situation developing, one between the poles, including a Pole.

Paolo Bruno/Getty Images

The hierarchy has been quite simple concering Roma's goalkeepers: The Brazilian Alisson plays the European games, the Pole Szczęsny reclaims his place between the, errrr, poles in Serie A. Spalletti's choice from the start. And while this seems like a straight approach and fair solution at first sight, there is a small nuance to all of this.

First off, Alisson played the first European game against Porto on August 17, as expected. While he didn't exactly looked confident that match, remember it was his first ever game in Europe, his debut for AS Roma and immediately in such an important game after only a couple of weeks of pre-season. At the age of 23. So there were obviously mitigating factors to say the least. Yet, who played in the return leg a week later? Yes, Szczęsny.

Not really a continuation of the hierarchy, is it? Plus, it didn't change a damn thing, in fact, the change made it even worse: Roma conceded three goals and were eliminated from the Champions League. Not saying that we would have qualified with Alisson as the keeper but still, a bit harsh to condemn the boy to the bench after only 90 minutes, thinking he was not ready for this stage. A bit strange, seeing at that point he had already played 40+ games for a major Brazilian club and had over 10 caps for the Brazilian national team. That's not exactly a small feat.

Second point: Woj's dominance in Serie A. As a starter in that competition (and if he remains fit) that's 38 games. Compared to Europe that's a tonload. Alisson has played four matches in the Europa League, Woj already has gathered 12 appearances in Italy, plus the European match he 'stole' from Alisson. Of course there's still that third tournament, the Coppa Italia, but Alisson hasn't a guaranteed starting spot in that competiton either.

Third: For the sake of consistency, play the Pole because he was also our no1 last season. Yes, that's true as he played 34 games, but which consistency? Of the defence? Right now our defence looks like this: Peres - Rüdiger - Fazio - Juan Jesus. Only Rüdiger was part of our defence 2015-2016, the rest is gone or injured. Woj needs to get used to his new team mates as well as Alisson.

To play Spalletti's advocate in all of this: He doesn't really have a luxury in that department. Both keepers are decent enough, but tend to be inconsistent and sometimes do, well, stupid or unexpected things. They're not world beaters like Buffon, nor huge talents like Donnarumma. So the outcome wouldn't be different if say Alisson played in Serie A and Woj in Europe. Roma would still be in the top 3 behind Juve and top its group in the Europa League.

What I do fear is that this situation might have a negative impact on Alisson. Roma paid 7.5 million for him and he saw this as an opportunity to cement his place in the Brazilian NT and dream of an even bigger European club, genre Barcelona or Manchester City. Right now, he has to be happy with an appearance here and there every two or so weeks and on between a lot of training sessions. But what matters more is official minutes. Experience.

It might work if you're Lobont, 38, and thinking of his retirement, but not as a  24-year-old prodigy, destined for bigger things. Because let's face it: You don't become your country's no1 between the poles by coincidence. He has talent and all the physical attrubutes to succeed and is good-looking (don't know why I wrote that down but hey, at least it's the truth). Our new DS might need to address this come January and loan him out to keep the boy happy.

See what spells at Empoli or Sassuolo did to our younsters: Politano recently got called up by Ventura while Paredes has been a regular in the Roman starting line-up since this Summer. Even Falque is killing it at Torino. Maybe now it's Alisson's turn. We can't let that 7.5m go to waste.Then, in the Summer 2017, Woj can return to Arsenal and Roma can look to the future, together with Alisson.

Unless.... Unless of course another Pole interferes and claims his place. We all saw what Skorupski is capable of not that long ago.

Poles and Alisson, it's not  been a good combination so far.