Midweek Marauders

Four times out of four, Ranieri wins Roman derbies. Thus spawned the title of this post. The word maraud means "to loot". In this case, we maraud for supremacy of Rome.

After the Cesena game, AS Roma blogfather Chris had an illuminating and telling little game over at his place: glass half full, half empty. It would be lazy to just continue along those lines, even though the game retains value in describing AS Roma in this early part of 2011. Tonight Roma was lethargic, top heavy (strictly in the literal sense), and wholly uninspiring. Adriano and Borriello predictively failed to both create and finish, and ended up doing neither. Roma's midfield was too homogeneous, providing neither width nor flitting feet able to connect with the Roman diaspora in attack.

On the other hand, Ranieri hadn't won three straight derbies prior to tonight by mere accident. As in the most heralded of those, he made substantial changes at half time which turned the game on its head and rendered all complaints and objections moot. Adriano and Greco were left behind, Vucinic and Ménez providing precisely the kind of playfulness and imagination which had been missing for the opening 45 minutes. Vucinic was great, Ménez constantly worried Lazio. Their introduction into the game helped Roma greatly, although neither of them were decisive in Roma scoring. The first goal came courtesy of another Lichtsteiner derby handball, assisted by Riise and later converted by Borriello. The winning goal was a scrappy loose ball which Simplicio cooly, almost teasingly, put over the goal line were Roma's goals. If they sound circumstantial, perhaps they were. But there's nothing circumstantial about them happening to Roma in a derby, having won three in a row previously. This is the benefit of establishing a small run of superiority.
              Once again on those half time changes of Ranieri's: you're either seething at his missed bets with the starting eleven, or toasting to his ability to read games and inject precisely what was needed. I'm all about the latter this evening. Four derby wins in a row, an absolute record, is nothing if not grounds for praise. Whatever one may think of him otherwise, right here and right now he is the king of Rome. He masters a scene which many before him have not, and that is not to be tossed aside as irrelevant. A hopeless romantic I may be, but that the most successful coach in Roman derby history (no other coach for either side has a perfect record in their first four derbies) was born and raised in the same area that AS Roma itself came to be makes it all the more laudable.

This bonus derby wasn't about form (it almost never is, at least not in the normal way). Roma are still only two paces behind the leaders in the league, with the potential of slipping further behind a constant threat. That didn't change at all tonight. Rather than your every Sunday kind of stuff, this bonus derby is about Daniele De Rossi hanging from the crossbar in celebration, and us living out our happiness through him. It's about Ranieri's sfottò in the interviews after the game, it's about having to look up the last time Roma didn't win a derby.