“No! The Italian teams of legend were an invincible football race. We are their sons! And at long last we have risen to claim our birthright. We have stepped into the ranks of greatness! All of our lives we have worked towards this goal, and for what? To be brushed aside as easily as common houseflies by Liverpool? A true Italian team would not have fallen…maybe we’re not who we think we are. Perhaps there are still new plateaus for us to reach; far greater heights we must ascend. Yes! We will ascend! The football universe will marvel to see the ultimate Italian potential once again realized. And we will be…legendary. And then, Juventus, then we will see you bow before the Wolf.”
- Paraphrasing Vegeta’s epic speech.
There is a sadistic beauty to fall like Roma did against Liverpool at Anfield; it is the complete and absolute realization that you cannot do any worse than you did that day and being at the same almost assured that you are almost out of the competition. Is it bad? Yes, it is; it actually sucks. It can be for Roma’s detriment? Well…yes and no.
What happened at Anfield is something that cannot be changed, but can be fixed. The problems were all there for us to see: playing the back-three, giving Liverpool’s attack space to roam, playing Juan Jesus…all of those issues were clear as day. We don’t know if Di Francesco has fully understood this, but the man is the manager for a reason and it has this great test to surpass.
But in the end, what is going to happen this week is not only down to tactics or the football aspect of things. It’s, just like the Barcelona comeback, down to passion, intelligence, cojones and having the will to win. It’s taking the hits to the chin and keep going, knowing that there is a chance and that we have to seize it to the end. Do we have something to lose? At this point, we don’t; for the vast majority of the aforementioned football universe, Roma is eliminated–it’s down to EDF and the boys to prove otherwise.
To put it bluntly: it’s difficult as fuck, but it’s not impossible or even close to that. Liverpool are by no means an invincible team and their weaknesses are clear as day; we only have to seize them, like a great Italian team would do. We have the quality, we have the stage and we have to players to do so–point in case, they already did it once.
This might be way too optimistic. Way too positive, considering the circumstances and the fact that this is Roma we are talking about. What can I say? There’s a running theme that football is a representation of life and this is what life is, in a nutshell: a monumental disappointment we have to rise above from. Yes, there’s a good chance of failing, but there’s no excuse for not trying and giving tour all–that’s living in all its chaotic beauty.
All I ask Di Francesco and the players is to give their 100% on the pitch. If they do that, I’ll be happy and proud. They have done a marvelous campaign until this point and they deserve all the plaudits they can get, Anfield disaster notwithstanding. They made the city, the club, Francesco and the fans proud. They have shown the world what Roma is in all its chaotic and self-destructive beauty.
But there’s still one more chance to carry on. It’s time to seize this.
It’s time to be legendary.