Back on Track

Mirko Vucinic is a living, breathing paradox. He's someone who could cook and serve a dish requiring half a dozen pots and pans and several hours of work, but mess up a plate of scrambled eggs. He's someone who could author a universally acclaimed thesis, but misspell his own name on the cover. You get the idea; he's someone who could, and habitually does, score spectacular and barely plausible goals, but miss the more obvious and easier chances that fall to him. That is Mirko; love it, love him. There were few more obvious factors than his inconsistency in finishing to explain the half time result of 0-0. Roma had dominated offensively, but missed so many chances that all the passing and movement was for nothing. Those weren't great moments in romanità, those fifteen minutes of half time. Have we not seen before how sort of easing through the first 45 with not enough of a buffer zone between you and an opponent not completely derived of talent is a bad idea? Sampdoria springs to mind immediately, and doesn't it sadden us?, and that happened with a one goal lead, not a draw.

I'm far from convinced of the merits of calling Claudio Ranieri the Tinkerman, even in jest. Sure he pulled Totti and DDR at half time in a derby, but he hardly changes things just to have some fun, or fight boredom. Instead he seems to mix being proactive (see: aforementioned derby) with stubborn odes to status quo (see: Bayern away). Here, he seemed to mix the two, blurring out the edges between the two stances so much that it was hard to tell what was up and what was red. Ménez was taken off, Adriano entered in his place. And not just figuratively, contrary to intuition he ended up playing in the same position as Jerry too. The change in itself, I got, the positioning not so much. Ménez wasn't bad at all, I thought, but the need for a striker to finish what Totti and Mirko were consistently starting seemed obvious. He fell victim to the conspiracy of circumstances, but through no real fault of his own. With Adriano camped out on the right and outside of the penalty area, the hoped reaction stalled, and it was not until Borriello too entered the fray that Roma stopped just rolling the ball around, and instead got the larger, proverbial ball rolling.

But first Mexès scored on a set piece routine that's as much of an institution at the Olimpico as paper bombs or the distinct smell of herbs (off the top of your head, can you think of a single goal he scored like that in an away game? I suspect there's more than mere chance at play here, with a knowing nod to the ball boys). Borriello soon followed the act with a stunning piece of work, easily worthy of the B.A. bomber himself, Gabriel Batistuta. Please allow room for imagination and do not see it as hyperbolic that I liken Borriello to perhaps the greatest striker of the the 1990's, because the goal scored last night was so reminiscent of one scored by the inspiration for this blog's name that there should be universal clemency for all of us whose minds went straight to that likening.

And don't think for a second I'm failing to note that twice in three days DDR has hit two perfect long assists, serving up two wonderful goals in the process. It's filed, under "DDR, the Return of".

But I know, I know, Cluj had chances as well and but for erratic finishing would even have had the lead last night. Traoré had Lobont beat, but shot into the crossbar with a shot so powerful the subsequent shaking of the bar matched perfectly the nervous, post traumatic shaking of my body. That chance didn't happen through very obvious failures of the system or group; it was a near-death experience by deus ex machina following Burdisso's individual error, so I'm lured to treat it less seriously than if it were a chance which exploited deeper rooted issues in Roma's defense. Naïve? Perhaps, but I hold no illusions that it's possible, or in any case probable, to play 90 minutes in Champions League and not allow so much as a chance to the opposition, not even Cluj. Their goal finally opened up old wounds (and new ones, courtesy of Di Vaio), but Roma rode it out. Not going to pretend it was easy to watch the last ten minutes, though.