Post Hoc, Ergo Propter Hoc (And Other Logical Fallacies)

When you take it upon yourself to try to write about football games, it's easy to second guess your own construction of what happened. To give an apt example: did a team really stop playing right after scoring a goal, or is my brain cutting corners and trying to link one event to another? Perhaps the two aren't connected more than by circumstance, merely happening to take place within some sort of proximity on a linear timeline.

Last night's game between Roma and Genoa is a prime candidate for this sort of second guessing. My eyes were telling me that Roma looked a very good side for the opening half, and the beginning of the second. Right up until when Brighi scored Roma's second, after which things looked decisively precarious and complicated. A softening effect of the goal and two goal buffer, or something else that happened around the same time? I'm not sure anymore, but whatever it is is more an issue for Ranieri and his staff than for us here and now: the immediate fact is that Roma looked a great team for slightly less than an hour, and a team that could be overrun by 19 other serie A teams for half an hour. Now it's a matter of increasing the frequency and length of the first set and phasing out the second set, which if it happens will put Roma back to walking in the correct general direction of the end goal. At least, and that's always something.

To go back to the time around second Roma goal, masterly taken by Brighi whose presence made up for DDR's absence: Genoa began banging away at Roma not long afterwards, perhaps at around the hour mark. To call their effort overwhelming and the result of great mental and physical fortitude would be overselling it terribly, but they were allowed to be dangerous by a Roman defense as frail as ever. Riise took a boot to the head which suffered a terrible concussion not long ago, but he was as weak as anything we've seen him be under Ranieri well before it. A non-entity offensively and defensively he was the main channel for Genoa's attacks, even though he wasn't the only one in trouble. Cassetti was neither here nor there, and Burdisso looked late on everything. Lobont mixed great saves with letting in the goal that he did, where Rudolf in essence walked the ball into the net past a hapless and oblivious goalkeeper. The entire thing was held together thanks solely to Juan, who played Toni tough, hard and well. In any case, Genoa seemed to suffer the same strange mental affliction Roma had done previously: after their pressuring and attacking had resulted in a goal, they stopped playing. The rest of the game was, strangely enough, much less nerve wrecking than the ten minutes leading up to the goal.

Some space and time must be dedicated to the twosome of Totti and Taddei, along with Juan the true standouts for Roma. Totti played as if possessed by a complete dedication to proving his doubters wrong, doubling back on defense, clearly deferring to Borriello in matters of penalty area real estate. His mobility (which we saw in the preseason, but hardly since then) was eye popping, and it allowed him to dribble and take on players in a manner he seemed to have phased out of his game a number of years ago. The shot attempt from within his own half was almost worth the ticket price alone. Like Totti, Taddei too has had to endure criticism from media and fan alike, and for a number of years. Last night he showed to be strangely invaluable to Roma, as he provided balance in two dimensions simultaneously: he provided a wing presence Roma has lacked, and at the same time masters the balancing act between offense and defense. It's not what anyone would expect, and it's even possible to bemoan the very fact that Taddei has that sort of importance for Roma still. But as long as he does, I'm glad he's in the team.

Finally, an open goal: it would be very hard to oversell the importance of Borriello in this Roma. Even last night when he was less involved than he has normally been, he scored. He's the exact kind of attacker this Roma needs, and thanks to the collective effort of more than a few people, has.