Roma 1 Chievo 0 (Also: Luca Toni 1 Haters 0)

For the annals, let it be written that Luca Toni made his debut against Chievo. Let's pretend the cameo against Cagliari didn't really happen, because it was only against Chievo that he could make a fair impression.

The game as a whole makes for a pretty poor basis of extrapolation, being conditioned by Doni's red card after little more than ten minutes. The following 80 minutes went by as one could suspect; with 10 men, only one of which an attacker following Vucinic's substitution, it became a matter of controlling the game defensively and letting Toni fight it out on his own in Chievo's half. Hopefully he'd win the ball, and allow some midfielders to advance and join the attack. It's rudimentary, it's not pretty, but it's what happened. The only thing I really care about, however, is that it was successful and gave Roma another win. That's all. Expectations needs to be severely tapered after such an early meltdown that a red card represents, the following 80 minutes will inevitably become a fight to salvage whatever the result was at the time of the red card.

 

Luckily for Roma, that was of course 1-0. DDR off a corner (and he had a great game), but this will be a Luca Toni post almost entirely, so even when writing about DDR's goal, it'll be about Toni. Because that goal's not happening without him. DDR doesn't get a clear path to the ball lest Toni rams the proverbial door down. That's what he was brought to Rome to do, and he did it all game long, frustrating the Chievo defense to kick and knock him down. If he lived up to expectations there, he wildly surpassed them in the move that led to the (missed) penalty; the dribble and burst of pace that brought him into the box was a move I wasn't sure he could do all that well when he was with Fiorentina, let alone now. He used his entire frame to body check the hands of time back into 2006, and ignored the limitations that his body should logically have. It was uncanny, and it was, to me at least, completely unexpected.

In the 24 hours since the game ended, whenever my mind's turned to Roma, all I've come up with is an inner enthusiast, for now restrained but curious, waiting to bust loose; imagine this Toni with Totti. Given their age and the amount of hits they've taken in their respective career, it shouldn't be as exciting as it feels right now. I don't even know who will benefit the most; will Toni score a ton of goals with Totti's passing genius at his service, or will Totti wreak havoc upon the souls of defenders in Italy and Greece (yeah, we're watching you) in the space Toni's icebreaker-like physique inevitably creates? The best prediction right now is a cheesy "all of us". We will all benefit.