Cagliari Roma 2-2

Shit, damn, motherfucker. Sing it, D'Angelo, sing it; shit, damn, motherfucker.

Cagliari away is not an easy game - I know this. A point there is a decent result - I know this. There was contact that took down Cassetti on their first goal - I know this too. But none of this matters. All of that is a wash, because under no circumstances whatsoever do you give up two goals in overtime. That can never happen. Cassetti could have gotten a free kick for that push? Sure, but even if Cagliari were given a penalty kick because the referee found Burdisso's breath offensive, that first goal was only half of the damage. Besides, the penalty on Vucinic would have driven me mad, had it been given against Roma. It's the second goal that gets to me, that's the one that pushes me into a corner and pusher me around until I give in and admit that "Yes, I hate it, I hate it, I hate it!"; to not pay attention at a maximum for the remaining few minutes against a home team, and fewer and fewer of their fans as they were already headed home there can be so justification. We aren't talking anything revolutionary nor overwhelming, either. Cagliari is a good team, but Brazil '82 they are not. There were only so many threats to keep at bay, so why in the name of all that is holy did Cassetti abandon the right side of defense, allowing Larrivey to sneak in? I don't want to be unfair and focus solely on him, though, so I am rationing out my temporary venom; I think Juan could have done so much more to shut down Conti's kid than he did. The way he reacted seemed so lax, as if it weren't an open player in the 96th minute with a one goal difference he was supposed to mark. Shit, damn, motherfucker.

Chris at The Offside has written up a great overlook of the game, and links the downfall of Roma to one of the substitutions. I'm on board with that, although I do disagree on which of them it was; Chris says it was bringing on Toni, and you can most certainly argue it. It isn't so much that there's anything wrong with Toni, but the rest of the team on the pitch by then didn't fit his characteristics much. But I am of the opinion that the real key - or the latest in a line of circumstances conspiring - was the substitution of Pizarro. Without him Roma loses the only player in midfield adapt at keeping possession for prolongated intervals during a game. He's particularly useful when Roma is being pressed hard by the opposition; his Cruijff fake-then-turn, followed by a fall as soon as he senses contact, brings an easy free kick in Roma's half and invaluable time. When El Pek's not on, everything becomes more rushed: Perrotta has only one speed, and that's full ahead all the time; Taddei...well, I'm not sure what he's doing, but he's not the man I want to give the ball to in over time in any case; DDR is a huge disappointment to me lately, and today's game is in his hall of shame. He has an annoying tendency to try Tottiesque long balls, or impossible curved high balls to someone ten meters away, which both come with a painful percentage of misplaced passes. I'm not saying that with Pizarro in the game until the final whistle, Roma wins. But if I were to guess, I would say 'yes' without hesitation. Every single day from now until the day long into the future when Totti is Roma's president and DDR the coach he hires, I would say 'yes'.

I think the biggest disappointment (apart from the obvious factor of throwing away a win in the last seconds) comes from an unwelcome reminder of what we were, not so long ago. Letting in these two goals wouldn't have been remarkable for Roma between August 2008 to October 2009, but now...now, I had the sense that we'd grown out of that. That was a vain concept, I realize now. These things take longer than that, and can't be cured even by the magic shin kick by Cassetti in the derby, the first of many defensive perfect records to follow. But even if it was me being just as much at fault for believing these types of things weren't a real possibility any longer, it feels like a betrayal for believing in their newfound defensive supremacy. (Another annoying facet of the game is the Conti kid scoring another goal against Roma. I don't have any problem whatsoever in him scoring against Roma, since he's not a Roma player. He plays for Cagliari, so he scores for Cagliari, any other way would have been ridiculous. But it annoys me. It annoys me that he always seems to save his best game of the season for when he plays Roma. It annoys me that he seems the happiest when he scores against Roma. Handle that Oedipus complex in therapy instead.)

Not to make this the most depressing rant since...er, October, there are some good things worthy of shining the light on. Julio Sergio (a miracle sent to us from above) is one of them. The other is that Roma will play soon again, and that a win then will make it easier to put this in the rear view mirror and only have the scar as a reminder, rather than being consumed by the pain in real time for much longer. After that, I'm at a loss.