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Jay Scardina On November - 9 - 2010

ROMA REVIEW: Giallorossi Refuse to Roll Over in the Derby

The Rome derby is one of the biggest games in European football. Plenty of fans around the globe tune in to see how it plays out. Like so many times before there were some controversial calls and plays. Roma was the team with the most to gain by winning this match, and it showed in the way they played. Lazio on the other hand were going to remain in first place regardless of a win, but a win would give them plenty of breathing space between second place Inter Milan.

If anyone remembers my last article, I said that Roma would probably play better without Totti.  For the most part, that was true as they finally started to play like the team from last season. Lazio were not without their chances though, as they could have easily tied the game after the first penalty kick from Borriello. That could have changed things, and Lazio’s defense may have decided to play a little more carefully.

A large part of the first half was back and forth, as both sides were trying to take an early lead and show their dominance. Early in the game Rocchi broke through the Roma defense and went for a cross from Mauri. However, the ball went wide and past the post.

Jeremy Menez was putting in a terrific work rate, and showed some real skill on the ball. He helped create several great plays that helped break down Lazio’s defense, but he went off at 39 minutes with an injury. Too bad to0, because I really think that he played very well behind Vucinic and Borriello. However, his substitute, Leandro Greco, came on and looked to score the first goal. Borriello kept control of the ball to the bye-line and crossed it past the goalkeeper. Greco tapped it in, but the goal did not stand as the assistant referee called Borriello offsides. After watching the replay a few times, I would have to disagree. The first half ended 0-0, but it looked like things were just getting started.

Shortly after the start of the second half Roma were awarded a penalty kick. It came from a shot taken by Roma’s midfielder, Simplicio, that was caught by Lichtsteiner’s arm. You don’t have to see the replay on that one too many times to see that it was a handball. Borriello took the penalty kick, and even though Lazio’s keeper, Muslera, looked like he got to the ball in time, it went under his body and past the line. Lazio came back with two fantastic efforts that could have equalized. The first was a shot from Hernanes, that was saved by Julio Sergio. Once again, Sergio proves that he may be one of the best keepers in Serie A at the moment. The next opportunity came from Foggia whose shot struck the post, but looked to be centimeters from going in. He definitely had the best chance for Lazio to level it up. There was some controversy during a Lazio free kick, as Riise took Mauri down inside the box. Lazio’s players rushed the referee, who turned down all appeals for a penalty kick. Then at 85 minutes Julio Baptista was fouled by Radu inside Lazio’s penalty box, and Roma were awarded another penalty kick. This time Vucinic fired it past Muslera. Unlike the previous penalty kick, he had no chance of stopping it. Roma took an even wider lead late in the game, and it ended 2-0.

Now I don’t like to watch a match being determined by penalty kicks. I would much rather a game be decided by skillful plays and well taken shots, but this is how it went down. However, Roma were the more dominant side. They had a lot of possession and created a lot of plays in Lazio’s penalty box. Now Lazio’s first place gap is a little smaller at 2 points ahead of AC Milan, since Inter tied with Brescia. Roma move into 7th place, and are 7 points behind Lazio. They have two more games this week against Fiorentina and Juventus. The bigger match of course being on Saturday against Juventus in Torino. It looks like the team are making some progress, but will things keep improving as Totti returns? I really think that Ranieri needs to take a look at the team that started this derby, and think about where Totti really belongs in the team.

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