At the cost of sounding redundant, it looks like the Scudetto race has finally picked its winner. Yeah yeah I know, I must have said this a million times already and every time Roma slipped up, Inter proved my ass wrong by fu**ing up a week later.
This time however, looks like it’s curtains down for Roma. To put it simply, this was not a good week-end for the Giallorossi: they tied their home fixture vs. Livorno (a match which they dominated from start to finish, but during which they simply could not capitalize) and more importantly, they lost Francesco Totti till the end of the season. Yeah that same old knee again, only this time it’s serious: anterior cruciate ligament damage, operation necessary, bye bye Il Capitano for at least 5 months. Good thing he doesn’t have Euro 2008 to worry about, but I doubt that will make Roma supporters feel any better…
Now all Inter has to do is win vs. Torino tomorrow. With 4 matches left (after the Sunday fixtures), a +6 lead would pretty much guarantee the Nerazzurri’s 16th Scudetto of their history.
But to go back to the topic at hand, the desperation of Daniele De Rossi after the final whistle was the perfect image of today’s Roma vs. Livorno match. Luciano Spalletti’s men litterally dominated the encounter from the first minute to the last, against an Amaranto team entrenched into their own half and incapable of producing any kind of reaction after going down by one. However, all the scoring chances in the world are fairly pointless if you can’t put in the back of the net, and Roma could do it only once today.
As for Livorno, they can be extremely happy at the final result: today’s draw should almost feel like a victory to the Amaranto, because Giancarlo Camolese‘s tactics against Roma today were purely and simply “all out back”. His initial 3-5-1-1 formation rapidly turned into an ultra-defensive 5-4-1, with Francesco Tavano (theoretically the lone ‘striker’) always retreating into his own half in order to contain the Giallorossi’s ball possession. With 11 men behind the ball, all the visitors could hope for was avoid taking any goals and then hope for a lucky break. Alessandro Diamanti‘s free-kick 10 minutes from the end provided just that.
Describing the first 45 minutes as “one-sided affair” would probably be putting it mildly. Things were pushed so much to the extreme that Roma’s keeper Doni could have probably left his post, walked out of the stadium, and enjoyed a cappuccino in a nearby coffee house. Yup, that bad. However like I said before, ball possession and shooting opportunities are worth squat if they don’t turn into goals, and on that aspect the Livorno defense was proving to be quite solid. All that Roma could muster in the first half-hour were corner-kicks, the first real shot of the match arriving in minute 36, a volleyed effort by Francesco Totti which Marco Amelia parried away.
On that very same chance, the Roma captain unfortunately had to leave the field feeling a crack in his knee (which was already in weakened condition at the start of the match), thus forcing Spalletti to bring in Mancini and reposition Vucinic at the top of the pyramid. In the 40th minute, a great Juan header was cleared off the Livorno line by De Vezze, and 5 minutes later Vucinic saw his close-range effort end narrowly wide. Roma had had its chances, but the score was still goalless.
The script didn’t offer many changes in the second half, and the Giallorossi picked up their monologue right where they had left off. In minute 53, Daniele De Rossi had a golden opportunity to break the deadlock, but incredibly missed the goal on what could safely be considered an open-net chance, but fortunately for him Mirko Vucinic didn’t make the same mistake just a minute later. Exploiting an aerial pass by David Pizarro, the Montenegrin striker executed a delicate chipped header, putting the ball out of Amelia’s reach and into the net. 1-0 Roma.
Contrary to expectation, Livorno’s tactics changed very little after they conceded the goal. In fact Roma continued to push forward, obtaining chance after chance in front of Marco Amelia, and it was only thanks to him (with some help from the defense) that Livorno stayed afloat in this match. The shots by Pizarro, Vucinic, Taddei, and Cicinho were all parried away or wide of the mark, at which point Camolese decided to give his main striker Tavano a helping hand: on came Alessandro Diamanti, playmaker extraordinaire and free-kick specialist. And what a free-kick that was in minute 83, the kind that give you important points in the battle against relegation, and also kill Scudetto hopes. 1-1.
The final Roma assault (Daniele De Rossi‘s in particular) bore no fruits, as Marco Amelia provided once again his best Gandalf impression (“You… shall… not… pass!” Get it? Ok never mind…) and shut the door to the goal. All eyes will now be towards the Stadio Olimpico of Turin, when Inter visit Torino on Sunday afternoon. As a Juve fan I can’t believe I’m saying this but… in the interests of keeping the race alive: Forza Granata…
|GOALSCORERS: 9’ Vucinic (R), 83’ Diamanti (L)|
|ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Mexes, Juan, Tonetto (77’ Panucci) – De Rossi, D.Pizarro – Taddei (83’ Giuly), Perrotta, Vucinic – Totti (38′ Mancini). (bench: Curci, Panucci, Antunes, Brighi, M.Esposito). Coach: Spalletti.|
|LIVORNO (3-5-1-1): Amelia – Grandoni, Knezevic, Galante – Pulzetti, Melara, E.Filippini, Bergvold (65′ Diamanti), Pasquale (84’ A.Filippini) – De Vezze (70’ Loviso) – Tavano. (bench: De Lucia, Pavan, Vailatti, D.Tristán, Rossini). Coach: Camolese.|