Pinball Wizard

A few words come to mind tonight. Granted, most are of the variant 'DAJE'; 'hahaha'; and 'aaaaaaaaaah!'; but still, they come to mind.

This game was like the Milan game inverted: instead of crushing it during the opening 45 minutes, Roma were awful; and instead of turning everything into mud during the second, Roma tonight were the only team out there during the second half. As tonight proved, playing a good second half is preferable as you get the extra time bonus, but it would still be kind of cool if Roma just started playing hard for 90 minutes again.

In my estimation this represents about the twentieth time in less than ten games that Ranieri's Roma gets an equalizer or winner around the 90th minute. I don't necessarily care whether Ranieri has consciously done something to bring about this change in attitude, or if he just eats a big bowl of Lucky Charms before he smokes a pack of Lucky Strikes every day and therefor is the luckiest man ever in sports. Whatever it is, that thing is bringing points into the pot, and right now that's alright by me.

On the whole the players did well. There were exceptions, and Brighi and Okaka didn't have 45 good minutes. Some of that was surely down to a poor team effort, but they did stand out in that anonymity. We saw 63 minutes of Taddei-ball, which felt about two hours too long. I realize there's a shortage of wing players on this roster, but alternatives worth considering are putting a cardboard cut-out of Totti on the right - at least that'd force teams to put a man to cover that wing - or in light of tonight, having Andreolli make darting runs into the box from there. Or, another option could be to play Guberti on the right, as he did after Taddei went off. Guberti is energetic, fast and can cross the ball good. Taddei, at most, has one of those qualities.

This blog's adopted son, Ménez, missed a penalty which could have been crucial. But I think it's wrong to make too much of it. First of all I didn't think the penalty was that bad in execution (not great, but we've seen worse). Secondly, he had the momentum going. He earned the penalty, and he was the one making everything happen at the time, those things all count. One could ask why Pizarro didn't take it, he perhaps feels a more natural penalty taker, but hindsight is something something, and so on. Ménez was regardless of the miss one of Roma's best players, again.

Mexès was out of it in the first half, but his second half was quality, fully comparable to some of his better performances the past years. And Andreolli should be made a saint.