Troppo forte

Claudio Ranieri:
"I can't find an adjective to describe Totti. When he scored the third goal I just asked 'how did he do that?'."
He made his return, and the angels sang. After being injured since Napoli (sometime back in the 19th Century, I think?), Totti was back. After 25 seconds he brought out the back heel and put Vucinic in a very good position inside the box, which was the first indication that he'd come to play. 28 minutes later he scored his third goal of the game, with a masterpiece of a football goal. He was back.

Not that it's as easy as reducing it to Totti being the sole reason Roma won. That would dismiss ten other very good performances, which would be wholly unfair. They all played very well, from Bertagnoli, to Perrotta, to Vucinic. But it is also impossible not to get stuck on the symbolism in Totti's return, and what it means to Roma. It's an immeasurable advantage to have him play, obviously for technical reasons as well as moral. The goals were executed to perfection (the first), or spectacular (the third), but there was so much more. The perfect 360 spin pass at 72 minutes was perhaps my favorite moment of his during the entire game, goals notwithstanding.

His friends in attack, Vucinic and Ménez, were also very good. Ranieri rolled the dice and played them all at once, and was repaid with spectacular and effective attacking play, as well as defensive sacrifices. Vucinic ran, ran so far away, he ran all night and day, and was scintillating. This is the Vucinic we knew from Spalletti's Roma anno 2007/08. Two things were different from the past couple of weeks of misery. To start with, he played more bound to the left wing, as opposed to closer to the goal as a traditional center forward. This plays to his strengths, the aforementioned running. And secondly: DID YOU SEE THE MUSTACHE?! It was ridiculously spectacular. I believe both those changes help explain Mirko's return to stud form, and I want to believe we're all intelligent enough to realize which plays the biggest part in that. The mustache.

Bari: chapeau! They lost, and they lost clearly. But it wasn't so much because Bari were bad, and I disagree with their coach Ventura who was disappointed in his team after the game. Part of the paradox that is AS Roma is this: even though the win was never in doubt, Bari was one of the better teams Roma has played this year. Despite losing many more games, those opponents weren't as good as this Bari was/is/will be. They play organized, fast football with very modest means, and deserve the success of the season. Know who would fit in great with their super offensive 4-4-2, where the wings are attackers half of the time? Guberti. Ironic. Bari also has the best away support I recall seeing in Rome in a long time. I probably need reminding of the last time something like this was seen. 12000 strong, they couldn't be fit into the visitor's section but were allotted Curva Nord as well. Everything quickly went against their team, but they sang and waved flags and hoisted scarfs for all of the 90 minutes. Lorenzo has some great photos up already. It warmed my heart to see, because it was reminiscent of old school trasferte: songs for their own team; songs against la tessera del tifoso; no problems caused whatsoever, to my knowledge. And I've actively looked for reports that there's been incidents, but nothing. Just passion.