The Totti v Spalletti and Roma feud was briefly interrupted by a football match at the Olimpico against Palermo.
Well shit Roma, when it rains it pours. Seriously what the hell is wrong with this institution!? Is there another side in the world that can clock up a 5-0 win whilst being an absolute basketcase at the same time?
Maicon was back at RB, while Florenzi joined the midfield and Keita came in for the injured De Rossi. And Dzeko got a start at the pointy end of the field alongside Mo Salah. Meanwhile Pjanic fulfilled the F. Totti role behind the striker in a 4-2-3-1
The first twenty minutes was rather atrocious and raised ugly comparisons with Rudi’s Roma as the side still seemed bummed at the injustice of the result against Real Madrid. Or maybe they were all upset that Mum and Dad were fighting. Either way, there was little to no off the ball movement and the crosses in to a triple marked Dzeko were rather useless.
Does anyone know why Radja has holes in his socks? Does he have a cat that lives in his sock drawer? Just saying.
Fortunately the injury ravaged Sicilians offered little to no threat as Keita managed to keep Vasquez in his pocket. The ghost of Gilardino was also on the field, which was kind of neat.
The first bit of notable action came when Vazquez clattered into Radja on the edge of the penalty area. This seemed a decent shout for a penalty but alas as is the current trend of matches at the Olimpico it was not given. Funnily enough the ref had his arm out and seemed like he was pointing to the spot, only to turn around and point the other way after receiving advice from his devious lineman.
And then in the 27th minute Edin Dzeko made a claim for the ‘Worst Miss in the History of Misses Anyone Alive Has Ever Missed’.
I’m not sure there is any point trying to explain what happened. See for yourself.
I think it is also fair to point out that Francesco Totti scores from that position eight days a week, but hey, that argument can wait.
Then about a minute and a half later, just as the first Dzeko miss memes began circulating the inter webs, the big Bosnian chested down a lobbed cross and then buried the half volley with his left foot below the keeper. His post goal celebration had all the joy and effervescence of a wake. Is there a better way to sum up Roma at the moment than that remarkable two minutes of Edin Dzeko’s life? It sure as hell ain’t easy when you are the second unhappiest forward in the squad.
Just before the stroke of halftime, Miralem Pjanic stepped up and reminded the footballing world just how important it is to have a dead ball specialist in the side. The little Prince sent an arrow around the wall and past the diving keeper’s hands and into the upright - a butterfly’s wings away from 2-0!
The second half was a completely different story as both Radja and Miralem began to completely own the middle of the pitch and sent the (suspiciously non) pink shirts back towards their own goal with regularity.
It wasn’t long until Palermo had truly given up the ghost as Keita got himself on the scoreboard from a Florenzi corner. The Malian toed in the rebound from a defensive header into the top corner in the 52nd minuted, basically burying the match.
But all that did was kick off the Mo Salah show.
In the 60th minute Dzeko produced some serious number nine magic, flicking the ball past the defence to an onrushing Mo Salah who obligingly puts his left boot through it past the nervous kid keeper. 3-0 go home early folks, nothing to see here.
For those that stayed I’m guessing they're trying to find different ways of explaining exactly how Salah scored his next goal. After Radja plucked a loose long ball from the air with the back of his heel and set off on a counter attack, he fed Salah a wonderful assist across the 18 yard box.
In accordance with the prophecy, Salah completely ballsed up his first touch, chesting the ball firmly towards the goal line. The young Palermo goalkeeper then rushed out and managed to get his hands to the ball but by doing so only succeeded in preventing it from running out for a harmless goalkick. Instead, the keeper’s touch managed to slow the ball enough for Salah to have another crack at the cherry - and a hell of a crack it was!
With a pirouette on a dime, Salah sent the Olimpico into equal doses delirium and disbelief as he somehow managed a first time shot with more spin than Tiger Wood’s 9 iron that dipped past the despairing defence, landed on the line and then nestled gently into the net. Physics be damned, Mo Salah take a bow you cheeky Egyptian!
At 4-0 the Palermo coach began applying some touches on his resume for his soon to be fired arse, by dragging Vazquez off at the 65th minute.
Falque then came on for Pjanic in the 72nd as Palermo continued to display a real determination to get relegated. And then something beautiful happened…
The big jawed Kevin Strootman came back onto a Serie A football field to a massive ovation from the Roman faithful.
The irony of pleasing the mob with the reintroduction of the most popular non-Roman in the squad will not be lost on many, but what a wonderful sight it was watching him gently plod around the place. How many of you have already started thinking about Kevin serving assists on a plate to both Salah and Dzeko?
In the 85th minute Salah was subbed in for Perrotti who made the most of his limited time by delivering an exquisite cross onto the forehead of Edin Dzeko who buried his header into the net to cap off a five star evening for the men in Red.
So what exactly does one make of this? I mean Palermo weren’t just poor, they were downright disgraceful. With that said, apart from the first twenty minutes and that rather unsightly miss, Dzeko and Salah both had very good matches and are starting to show the league just how dangerous they can be with the right service.
Further to this, the reintroduction of Kevin Strootman is without question a game changer. Roma’s midfield immediately becomes dominant with a fit version of him on the park.
As for the Totti vs Spalletti debate, incident, diplomatic spat, well rather than read my nonsensical ramblings I think it’s better to just hear what the bald beauty had to say for himself.
"Tonight was an impeccable performance. There’s always the danger of a drop in mentality after a Champions League match, but they played really well, recharged the batteries and gave everything," Spalletti told Mediaset Premium.
"The whole situation is in the past. We all intend to come back together tomorrow. He was in the stands to watch the game, went to the locker room to salute the players and will be training with us tomorrow.
"It was just a moment of anger and discomfort that is understandable in certain respects. If the greatest post-war player like him makes these comments, it turns into a big deal.
"I was going to play him tonight, as I said so in the Press conference yesterday. If I had said he was going to play and then didn’t, he’d have flung missiles at me, not verbal jabs!
"Based on what emerged from his comments, and the fact that all over the media there was only talk about this, I thought there was the danger of it affecting concentration after a Champions League game.
"I had asked him nicely, like a father, to help the transition from one fixture to another. There are roles. It might be abnormal, but this is how things are done here.
"If you treat one player in a certain way, you have to treat everyone equally, even if that player is Francesco Totti. I could not do otherwise.
"It’s true he is a great champion and I must have respect for him, but I must also have respect for all the players in the squad. Otherwise someone can just call a Press conference and say whatever he likes at any stage – that’s no way to behave."
"We started the game badly and I feel Dzeko’s goal really changed things. I was looking at him and he was positively distraught at missing such an easy chance. His head dropped, he looked only at the floor, but that goal so soon afterwards shook him up.
"We are a strong side on the counter, but we still don’t seem to realise when to control possession and when to charge forward.
"Our objective is to win when we play a game. The one after is only important if you’ve won the previous game, therefore the current one is fundamental.
"We’ve had a good run of victories, but there are others who have done better and so we must carry on. They others still have petrol in the tank."
Ah Roma, you dysfunctional mess of a football side. What would we do without you?