It sounds kinda sarcastic to say ‘Hey, that could have been worse’ after a 4-1 defeat, Roma’s biggest this season. Yet that feeling is pretty spot on. The game was live on Belgian television so I didn’t miss a single minute and dare I say, it was one of the most frustrating, infuriating and tense games I have ever witnessed from AS Roma. And believe me, I saw a lot of those.
Right after the final whistle I was angry, depressed. I reacted too emotional. wanted to slap Defrel, Dani and Gonalons so hard in the face they couldn’t distinguish their front from their back side. Well, maybe only Gonalons and Defrel because De Rossi looked like a stone cold motherf*ckin deadly assassin from a notorious biker gang who likes to drink blood in his spare time.
But just a couple of moments later I suddenly felt satisfied, even proud of this club. The right mentality, the effort from guys like Kolarov, Florenzi, Manolas and Perotti mixed with the status of the underdogs... Strange, but I guess Roma does that to you. Bringing out the best and worst of a human being. In the space of just seconds.
The first half hour I was so pumped up and nervous, although the game itself started out rather slow. Messi and co weren’t brilliant and after 30 minutes or so I started to dream of more. Could this be true? Am I watching the right game here? Could AS Roma actually make Barcelona’s life hard and keep their hopes ealive for next week’s return fixture? It turned out very differently but few will argue Roma earned a better result last night, like a 3-3 or 3-2 scoreline.
I think everyone who saw the game will agree: Roma just had a shitload of bad luck yesterday. Penalty appeals, missed chances (Defrel and Perotti especially) and those two God awful own goals. Yes, Barcelona had a lot of possession but they do so against every opponent, Las Palmas or PSG. Fact is, when Roma’s forwards upped their game, Barcelona’s defense and keeper looked shaky at times. And what are the chances Dani’s deviation or the rebound from Manolas’ leg go in? Or Alisson’s save falls right at the feet of Pique? And all this in the same frikkin’ game?
The only goal that was avoidable was the last one, after some horrid defending from Gonalons who give Suarez his goal on a silver platter. And that one hurts the most because 3-1 or 4-1 is a world of difference. Beating Barcelona is always a huge task, but if a 2-0 would suffice and Roma could grab a quick goal at the Olimpico... Who knows what could happen in such a heated atmosphere like Rome? But 3-0 might be a bridge to far for this team. We know their limits.
They managed a similar convincing win against Chelsea but Barcelona play a different style and well, you know, there’s this guy called Messi. Chances are very very slim, but after tonight, I’m pretty sure this squad wants to go out with a bang and give Barça a run for its money. A narrow 1-0 or 2-1 win would be a nice exit from the Champions League, which gave us some unforgettable moments.
Then again, talking about a possible ‘exit’ still stings a bit. What if Perotti scored that header right after halftime? Or what if Kolarov scored his free-kick? Or Roma got a penalty after the fouls on Dzeko or Pellegrini? So much to talk about, so much to analyze. While it’s pretty simple and straightforward: Barcelona didn’t dominate this game as the scoreline would indicate and that’s mainly Roma’s merit.
If I told you on Sunday Roma would lose 4-1 in Spain, then we would be calling it another waste, another miserable European night and shameful display like Bayern or Manchester United in the past. But at least Europe saw a different Roma this time. A Roma that made us, tifosi, proud. One that was even missing its warrior/pitbull Radja and super stud Ünder in the starting lineup.
Does it matter anymore? Sadly no, the Catalonian hill is too steep to climb and the quarterfinal is probably the end of Roma’s journey, as expected. It was a damn good run though.
Kudos to Eusebio and co for making me believe, albeit not for long. It was worth it.