Palermo 3-1 Roma

Full disclosure: I have an ever so slight crush on this Palermo team. They're wildly inconsistent but capable of playing very good football, producing as many ooohs and aaahs as goals. Losing to them can happen, it's not the end of the world in any real sense. No season objective can be lost in Palermo, Roma has lost easier points than this (and will again). With this in mind, it is with no pleasure I say that Roma were still awful. Even when factoring in Palermo's quality, even when factoring in that this was the first league loss in almost two months, Roma still managed to make it look downright horrendous.

The frustration and disappointment comes from the same place it did against Napoli those two months ago: with all due respect to playing against good opponents away, it was all so avoidable. In the beginning of October, Roma went to Naples and lined up a nominal three man defense featuring five defenders and lost the game due to it. Last night against Palermo Roma started out rather well, but failed to rectify any of the problem areas clearly visible by the time half time came around. Roma were soft in the middle of midfield, allowing time and time again the pink wave of Pastore, Ilicic and Miccoli to overwhelm them. Unlike Roma, they do not require being asked more than once in order to score: problem number one. Problem number two: continuing as if problem number one didn't exist. Pizarro was visibly short of match fitness, Riise and Cassetti struggled to stay afloat, yet come the 46th minute nothing had changed. It is ironic that only days after my little praise directed at Ranieri's feel for reading games and being able to change their dynamics, this happens. But when things go bad, they go bad fast. Never has this been more true than last night. Make no mistake, at half time Roma was still in the game despite the one goal disadvantage. It was still salvageable. Solidify the midfield, alert Totti, Ménez and Borriello of the presence of each other, and nothing is beyond grasp. Then, instead, another silly mistake allowed Palermo to score, and that was the game. A third quickly followed, while I already had my head buried in my hands at the sight of Cassetti and Riise our sole defensive cover on a counterattack.

If it was an even game for the first half of it, the second was embarrassing. A lot of useless possession which mostly led to ill-advised shots Sirigu was always on top of. The attacking trio were clearly left to their own devices, Ranieri trusting them to be able to invent something out of their individual quality. This, clearly, was a mistake on Ranieri's part. Said attacking trio get no quarter, however, for their pathological disinterest in trying to make anything happen which didn't involve them shying away from no dribble or shot, no matter how improbable. After the Bayern game Totti said he though fielding all four attacking stars at once could work; yesterday it looked as if even three was one too many.

And to think it was all so unnecessary.