The Who & the How

I remember the first time I ever heard of Basel. I was sitting in a bar off the beaten track near Piazza Barberini, and the tv in the corner ran footage from all the CL games that night. This was in 2002, and we sat there, friends and strangers, casting half an eye towards the highlights of Crespo scoring two goals for his new club Inter, and literally three people at or around the table uttered under their breath the words pezzo di merda when Crespo was shown in a close up. This didn't happen all at the same time, everyone just kind of mumbled it to themselves, so it came in more as an echo than a choir. Then, as they showed the team he'd just scored two goals against, a perfectly unison chiiiiiiii?! escaped everyone's lips. The complete unknowns playing in old, discarded Barcelona shirts was Basel (thought it would take the better part of that CL season for the name to stick in my mind). Tonight, as Basel scored the 1-0 goal, that anecdote took a giant leap from my unconscious, where it had been buried along with tons of other inconsequential memories I haven't revisited in ages. Suddenly it was all I could think of (apart from crying out to Mexès and Cicinho why they want to hurt me like that, of course); how a team I had once expressed complete ignorance to now stood on the threshold to Europe, ready to kick Roma out. Ready to stomp on her fingers as she tried to grab a hold of that very threshold. How life moves in circles, and how ironic and absolutely fucking quaint it all was. Except for the fact that Roma would be kicked out of Europe.

Cue the How. How, in particular, they worked that second, winning goal. In order to provide all the proper background, we must remember that DDR was discharged from the hospital just about five minutes before the game (more or less), and lost seven kilos while bedridden; that Vucinic only recently tapped into a huge vein of form which allowed him to once again become a shadow of his former self. Before that, just a few weeks ago, he was less than that: unrecognizable; disheartened; unable to trap even the simplest of balls. Then, tonight...that happened. First DDR got a pass from the right side of midfield, and first time without wasting a second, hit a pass forward into the depth for Vucinic. But it was no simple pass, he managed to bend it around the two defenders running between himself and Vucinic, so as the latter could receive it perfectly. The delivery being perfect, he needn't waste time controlling the ball. Rather, he also hit the ball first time, with a controlled but hard, low shot. If the action showed anything, it showed discipline. Another player would have shot the ball differently. Harder, softer; less precise, more precise. But few would have hit it with that perfect blend between the two. Discipline is the perfect word to use when talking about the restraint Vucinic showed as he held back his run, and remained perfectly onside.

And now that the obstacle has been cleared, it's legitimate to do what I've been doing since last weekend; think about the derby (all day everyday, I don't know what else to say). In a way (a very complicated, and most likely slightly disturbed way), I'm glad Roma played a full strength team and only won by a one goal margin. If it'd have been a crushing and dominating display, every single piece of logic would make Roma immense favorites for the derby, which in turn would mean Lazio would win the actual game. When things are too good to be true, they always are in the derby. Lazio hasn't won a game since around the time Di Canio had hair, while Roma is on a mini streak of hot form (5 wins in the past 6 games, the missing game being the honorable draw away to Inter). In any other game the better team would win, but in a derby these respective form streaks means the champagne is already on ice for Lazio (cue funny inner visual of Lotito opening a champagne bottle by means of sabrage). Derby fever is rising. I'm boiling. I'm nauseated as I envision Zarate, and weak in the knees as I think of what Roma's tridente MTV can do. Just let it be over, soon. Lazio are just too bad for me to be calm this year.