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Totti Today #77: Strange Sanguineness

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I’ve always had a soft spot for the Champions League. Not because I’m a wolf of Wall Street and only interested in money, but simply the grandeur, prestige, recognition, damn even the hymn make me feel fuzzy inside. Forget the Coppa or Serie A, this stage is where true champions are made.

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At long last, Champions League after New Year. And even though Roma probably didn’t deserve the qualification, we might as well look forward to it anyway, right? After Barcelona, Leverkusen and BATE, the next stop is… Real Madrid. Ten times winner of that very same Champions League, the only team that achieved this and a number Roma fans could only dream off (let’s start with one win before 2020 shall we?).

February 2011. A double confrontation with Shaktar Donetsk. That was the last time we could witness Roma playing a Champions League game after New Year. Claudio ‘eat this Wenger, I’m winning the Premier League’ Ranieri was on the bench during the home game (2-3 loss), Vincenzo ‘playing at Sampdoria is easier than training Samp’ Montella took over for the away game (3-0 loss). Fair to say our exit wasn’t as memorable as for example the penalty drama against Arsenal (still haven’t forgive you, Tonetto) or the 7-1 trashing of Manchester United. Hey, speaking of 7-1 trashings….

Benzema, Kroos, Modric, Rodriguez and the Holy Cristiano Ronaldo in the flesh visit the Olimpico in a few days. Hooray! Sort of… If you thought the 1-7 humiliation at home at the hands of Bayern was worse enough, there’s always room for some more tears, blood and horror. Zidane’s start at Real has been nothing short of a hit and he has been lighting up the Liga. 5-0, 5-1, 6-0, 4-2, them boys know how to score a goal or two. Thank God Luciano Spalletti’s Roma is turning out quite nicely in 2016 as well: four wins on the trot, scoring ten goals in the last games. Yes it’s decent for our standards but far from Real Madrid material.

Both teams have gained momentum since New Year, Roma even outdoes Real with a 12/12 in the league, Real ‘only’ has 10/12.  But experience is where the key to succes lies. And at this stage Real has tons more of it than AS Roma. Let’s list of the players in Rome who are kinda familiar with huge CL line-ups in the elimination round: De Rossi, Totti, Dzeko, Maicon and Keita. One is injured while all the rest bar Dzeko will probably not start the game.

You could also count in Woj during his Arsenal days but then again, he will be tested by Benzema, Ronaldo and Kroos and must depend on Rudiger and Manolas to save his ass. Rudiger and Manolas, the same duo that couldn’t even get a clean sheet against Carpi. Of all the others, only Pjanic has the class to make it at a team like the Galacticos or Barcelona.

Yet, some people do believe Roma can truly cause an upset this week. Capello for instance. Or people with a severe alcohol intoxication who are seeing pink unicorns all the time and listen to Don’t Stop Believin by Journey all day long. Bale will miss boths confrontations so that's at least something that is going our way. The thing is, we always condemn the Giallorosso for their inconsistency and this is exactly why top teams should be aftraid of us. Expect the unexpected.

They play bad against bad teams, good against good teams. Or sometimes average against small teams and abominable against big teams. Or exceptional against superior teams and  below-par against inferior teams. You know the drill by now, you know how Roma works. Don’t put much effort in loathing, blasting and detesting the system, there’s nothing you can do about it.

Either way, Roma will happen on Wednesday. If it’s in a bad way, we’ll once again be the clowns of Europe for one day. If it’s in a good way… Well, then Spalletti really is the jinx of Real, after that double win in 2008.

Tell the truth to me right here, right now. Would you bet AGAINST Spalletti upsetting Real? Now excuse me while I go grab my Journey vinyl.