Okay, I’ll be honest, most of what you’re about to read was written in the wake of the first 45 minutes, when Roma, beset by rain and their usual defensive shortcomings, seemed destined to drop points to a decidedly inferior side, but once the heavens cleared, Francesco Totti did what he always does: pulled Roma’s asses from the fire.
But I’m going to leave the review in tact, simply because it paints such a perfect picture of what it means to be a Roma fan: crushing lows and delirious highs, all within 90 minutes. So here we go!
The beautiful part of the deluge that just hit the Stadio Olimpico in Roma, halting play for twenty minutes before the match was officially postponed, is that it saves me from having to do a full recap of Roma’s pitiful performance. After putting up an early goal, Roma’s defensive woes once again reared their ugly heads, damning Roma to a one-goal deficit before heading into the waterlogged tunnels.
Seriously, check it out
Questo è il tunnel dove transitano i giocatori. pic.twitter.com/kkWBpZivya— Lorenzo Serafini (@LoreSerafins) September 11, 2016
Apparently, they’re not too concerned with pitch drainage at the Olimpico, either that, or they just funnel it under the stadium into some sort of cistern. Mother nature aside, there was another ominous warning before the match even started, as reported by yours truly.
Jesus is starting. Lord help us all— Chiesa Di Totti (@chiesaditotti) September 11, 2016
That cryptic tweet would prove quite prescient, as Juan Jesus would factor into nearly all of Roma’s first half shortcomings. But before we dwell on the negative, let’s accentuate the positive, Roma’s glorious first goal.
Mohamed Salah: 8th Minute
GOAL Salah!! Roma 1-0 Sampdoria pic.twitter.com/kjxXWEZpow— Serie A News (@TransfersCalcio) September 11, 2016
Diego Perotti and Salah, as they seemingly do every week, teamed up to give Roma an early advantage, as Perotti lofted a lovely ball towards the far post, finding Salah in stride for the early goal, but don’t overlook the buildup to this one.
As you can see, Roma pulled off an eight-pass combination, starting on the left side of the pitch with some close contact between Jesus, Alessandro Florenzi and Daniele De Rossi, who found Stephan El Shaarawy at the point of attack before SES swung it out wide to Perotti.
It was the sort of close control, quick tempo passing to which we grew accustomed last spring, the type that has often been lacking through Roma’s first several matches of the 2016-2017 season.
Yeah, so that was the positive of today’s rain delayed action, can you stomach the negative? Are you sure? It was pretty bad.
Luis Muriel: 10th Minute
Who’s to blame here? Well, take your pick, both Jesus and Bruno Peres were about two steps ahead of Muriel (meaning, they gave him two steps of space towards the Roma goal), while the rest of the defense had no choice but to keep him onside because of Sampdoria’s other attackers. It’s not the worst goal they’ve ever conceded, but Muriel was able to exploit Rrruan and Peres’ horrible positioning, which, at this point, should hardly be considered an achievement.
Things would slow down a bit from there, with neither side presenting much of a genuine threat—Roma earned a couple corners, but in general, they weren’t up to snuff—before Fabio Quagliarella exploited our deepest, darkest fears.
Fabio Quagliarella: 41st Minute
GOAL Quagliarella!! Roma 1-2 Sampdoria pic.twitter.com/HeBVDsCbM0— Serie A News (@TransfersCalcio) September 11, 2016
Once again, just another comedy of errors. Here we see Wojciech Szczesny with the classic I got this...no wait...should I?...I should, right?...no, wait! school of goalkeeping, but don’t let that blind you to Juan Jesus “defending”, which consisted of standing around with his finger up his nose while Quagliarella slipped right past him to bang it home.
But we have a solution
under no circumstances should Woj and Rrruan be on the pitch at the same time. They need a restraining order— Chiesa Di Totti (@chiesaditotti) September 11, 2016
Listen, I get that Roma suffered a spate of untimely injuries to key defenders, and yes Thomas Vermaelen was ruled out late in the week, but why must we suffer like this? Why can’t De Rossi just slide into defense? Why not start Fazio? It’s clear as day, Jesus is not good enough to start for this club, at least not as currently constituted, and when you add his general shittyness to Woj’s timid and questionable decision making, disastrous results ensue.
As I’m writing this, the match hasn’t yet been officially called off, but between their play and the sponge like conditions of the pitch, let’s pray we don’t have to deal with this one until sometime in 2017, when Roma are on their 7th choice center back because Fazio tore his ACL while getting out of the chair at the dentist’s office.
Okay, now we’re back to the here and now...
Nevermind, they decided to give it a go....TOTTI IS ON....TOTTI IS ON....TOTTI IS ON
It wouldn’t take long for Totti to make his mark on this match, and good lord, what mark it was; how in the world did he pick Dzeko out with that pass!? We mention it time and time again, as much as we love all the goals, the well struck penalties and the cheeky celebrations, the best part of Totti’s game has always been his ability to switch play, pick out a pass or create for his teammates, all of which were present on that play.
Seriously, there is no one else on this team or perhaps on this planet who could have made that play. Kudos to Dzeko for settling it and slotting it home, too.
The ensuing 20 to 30 minutes were classic Roma: they ran roughshod over Sampdoria, with Salah and Dzeko having several opportunities each to put Roma ahead, but Emiliano Viviano put on the typical average-keeper-playing-the-match-of-his-life performance in the second half, turning away any and all shots.
This one could have easily been 5-2 by the 80th minute, but he was more than up to task, and just when it seemed Roma was about to play to another disappointing draw, something wonderful happened, fate actually intervened on Roma’s behalf.
There was no way in hell Edin Dzeko’s awkward stumbling warranted a penalty in that situation, but thanks to Newton’s immutable first law of motion, Dzeko’s momentum and the subsequent stumbling were just enough to catch the referee’s eyes, gifting Roma with an incredibly soft penalty.
From there, it was all Totti, who stepped up cool as you like and buried it past Viviano, giving Roma three desperately needed points.
You know where this is going now, say it with me...
We have Francesco Totti and you don’t.