Close shave for Roma, and this Scudetto race is still being (with a feeding tube, a respirator, and an artificial heart) kept alive. We’re now on matchday 32, and it seems like the never-ending “Inter good-Roma good, Roma bad-Inter bad” seesaw is destined to go and on: the distance between Giallorossi and Nerazzurri has been reduced to 1 point, but all it will take on Sunday is for Inter to win vs. Atalanta, and they’ll bring it back up to 4 again. Same old story…
Now, I would just love Inter to prove me wrong and lose, because then we’d have a real race on our hands. Meanwhile, we can just sit and relax, watch and comment on the Giallorossi’s nth “another-match-we-almost-fu**ed-up” day. Today it was against Genoa.
I think all of you are dying to know, so let’s get this out of the way right from the start: yes, Francesco Totti is recovering from his injury but no, it’s very unlikely that he’ll play on Wednesday vs. Man Utd: his doctor said he’ll only start running again on Monday, probably too late for action. Not that it would matter much anyway, since Roma have a 0-2 home deficit to climb back from, but just so you know…
Good, now that that has been dealt with, let’s talk about today’s match. More specifically, let’s talk about Roma’s return to the Stadio Olimpico after the midweek action against Manchester United: these must be tough times at Trigoria lately, but Luciano Spalletti (as any good coach should do) still believes an European exploit is possible, and for that reason decided to rest Alberto Aquilani and Amantino Mancini today. A move which, coupled with the rest of the team’s ‘Raging Bull’ spirit, seemed to work at full efficiency in the first few minutes.
Roma multiplied chance after chance, in particular through a Mirko Vucinic header (narrowly wide) and a Daniele De Rossi free-kick over the bar. And naturally, with the pace at which Roma were running, chances were followed by goals, litterally back-to-back. In minute 14, Max Tonetto went for the cross from the left-wing, the ball got deflected putting Genoa’s keeper off track, and Rodrigo Taddei dropped by for the easy tap-in. 1-0 Roma.
Just 3 minutes later, the Giallorossi made it two: Mirko Vucinic received a pass back to the goal, seemingly almost lost possession but actually ran after the ball, caught up with it, and slammed an inswinging shot from outside the box where Rubinho would never reach. Lovely execution for a great goal, and 2-0 Roma, with Taddei’s and Vucinic 5th goals in Serie A this season.
Giallorossi in the driving seat, but game over? Certainly not, not when when you’re a team that knows how to play footy (at times), and when you have the current Serie A topscorer on the roster (a certain Marco Borriello). From the 20th minute onwards, the visitors really began fighting back, reconquering the ball possession and sticking their nose close to Doni’s penalty box, statistics enhanced by the entrance of Honduran playmaker Léon (on for injured Danilo). Not that it resulted in many scoring chances, but it did send Doni a message ( kinda like saying: “hey, napping time is over”), the most notable of which was a Borriello shot following a nutmeg on Mexès (saved by the Roma keeper). 2-0 at the break.
In the second period, Genoa resumed where they had left off: full frontal assault. Roma seemed to be able to weather the storm for a while, when suddenly in minute 58… the unthinkable took place. An open-net tap-in by Marco Rossi (following yet another Borriello shot, receiving the ball from the left wing) re-opened the game for the visitors, but that was peanuts compared to what happened next. Roma did not even have time to kick-off, that Genoa stole the ball from Giuly, and launched Léon in the middle. The Honduran player exchanged passed with Juric, and then let a powerful strike rip from outside the box, beating Doni in the bottom-right corner. 2-1 and 2-2 in less than a minute!! Unbelievable… was Roma going to fu** this up again?
Time for Spalletti to bring out the aces: out with Giuly and Tonetto, replaced by Mancini and Brighi. Without Francesco Totti to dictate play, the ‘heart and soul’ of the team were effectively transferred to Daniele De Rossi: the Azzurri midfielder sounded the charge, and attempted to rally his troops with two speculative long-range efforts (one saved by Rubinho, another horribly wide). However after the minute 58-59 cold shower, Roma were now really fighting for it, grabbing back the reins of the match and taking it into the Genoa half.
The Giallorossi assaults continued, and were eventually rewarded 10 minutes from the end: Borriello committed a (very naive) foul on Taddei inside the box, thus conceding a penalty and giving Daniele De Rossi the chance to put his team ahead again. ‘Capitan Futuro’ stepped up as the entire Stadio Olimpico held their breath, and sent the ball out Rubinho’s reach. 3-2 Roma, and big ’phew’ time for Spalletti: 3 points in the bag, Inter’s lead reduced to 1.
Ball is now in Inter’s court… the Nerazzurri are travelling to Bergamo to play Atalanta on Sunday. Will the seesaw continue?
|GOALSCORERS: 13’ Taddei (R), 16’ Vucinic, 58’ M.Rossi (G), 59’ Léon (G), 80’ pen. De Rossi (R)|
|ROMA (4-2-3-1): Doni – Cicinho, Mexès, Panucci, Cassetti – De Rossi, Perrotta – Taddei (81’ Juan), Giuly (60’ Mancini), Tonetto (63’ Brighi) – Vucinic. (bench: Curci, Antunes, Esposito, Pit). Coach: Spalletti.|
|GENOA (3-4-3): Rubinho – Lucarelli, Bovo, Criscito – M.Rossi, Konko (63’ Vanden Borre), Juric, Fabiano – Danilo (30′ Leon), Sculli (82’ Figueroa), Borriello. (bench: Scarpi, De Rosa, Garibaldi, Di Vaio). Coach: Gasperini.|