Italian Serie A News, Results, Analysis and Features on Football Soccer

Jay Scardina On November - 22 - 2010

The Roma Review: Roma Returns to the Champions League

Welcome back to the Roma Review! Roma are starting to look more and more like a top side club these days. I honestly thought that they would be somewhere in the lower top 10 of Serie A, and would be looking for some major help in the Winter transfer window. They seem to have found their stride, and they may get into the round of 16 in Champions League. They also took a much needed 3 points in their last Champions League match against Basel in Switzerland. Roma have some issues though with injuries, and their squad is not as deep as it was at the beginning of the season. Ranieri seems to be working his magic though with the players he has, much like last season. Their first test was a match against Udinese on Saturday.

There was some doubt as Roma took the field on Saturday against Udinese. Starting a game with out De Rossi is never a good sign. The midfield was also missing Pizarro and Perrotta, so Brighi, Simplicio, and Greco had to step up. This game was going to be a test to see how Roma would do with a weakened midfield. Roma took control of the match early on, and Menez showed why he should start every game. He skipped through the Udinese defense to open up the match with a fantastic goal. He continued to be a thorn in the side of the Udinese defense through out the first half. In the second half Menez was showing his confidence by taking a shot on goal, when he clearly should have passed it to Borriello. Roma’s leading goal scorer would get his chance at 60 minutes to seal Roma’s win. Udinese had chances through out the match. Their best chance to pull one goal back came when Alexis Sanchez fired a shot late in the match, but Sergio got his hands to it. Burdisso let his temper get the best of him, and got red carded with 10 minutes left after pushing Domizzi in the box during a corner kick. I think that Roma’s player of the match was Juan. He kept Udinese’s forwards very frustrated, and he put in a terrific work rate. He even had a shot on goal in the first half. Ranieri gambled though by taking Menez and Borriello out for Baptista and Adriano. They did not have much of an impact on the game, and Adriano definitely has not returned to form. I think Ranieri was keeping some players on the bench for the Champions League game though so they would not risk any injuries or fatigue. Roma took the 3 points, and are now in 5th place.

Roma have a tough Champions League match at home Tuesday against Bayern Munich, who are currently at the top of the group with 12 points. Bayern have already sealed their place into the final 16, so a loss will only hurt their pride. I am hoping for a much better game, than the first time these two met at the beginning of the season. Roma put in a poor performance, and Munich scored 2 goals late in the game. Roma have some issues with injuries, and the biggest of these is Daniele De Rossi, and there have not been any reports stating that he will return for Tuesday’s match. Pizarro has been nursing an injury as well. He and De Rossi make up a large part of Roma’s midfield. Greco has earned a starting position while Pizarro and Perrotta are out, but he is still young and may not be up to this level of playing for 90 minutes. Brighi is not a bad midfielder, but he is usually a substitute as well. Roma will need to have a strong attacking game if they want to win this match. So far keeping Menez behind the two forwards has paid off well, as he has shown that is where he is needed most on the field. He does need to look up and pass the ball though, because in a match like this they may not get many chances on goal. I will be interested in seeing if Ranieri goes with Vucinic or Borriello along with Totti up front. My bet is with Vucinic, since he was on the bench during the Udinese game, and he did not come on as a sub. Roma’s defense will need to be on their toes, because players like Mario Gomez and Bastian Schweinsteiger may be looking for an away win in Rome. Juan and Mexes will more than likely be the leaders in the back. Burdisso is questionable at this point because of the red card he picked up. Ranieri can not afford to have his players lose discipline in a crucial game. One thing that Roma have in their corner is that Bayern have not been consistent in league play. They have not lost a match, but tied 3 out of their last 5 and currently sit at 6th place in the Bundesliga. Granted I think that Bayern are in an easy group, and in the beginning Roma looked to be their only real competition. I don’t think anyone doubted they would come out first in their group though. Since they have already qualified into the final 16, that may give Roma an advantage. Van Gaal my decide to keep some players on the bench so they can concentrate on moving up the Bundesliga table before the Winter break. So far Roma’s only competition for 2nd place is Basel, who will more than likely defeat Cluj in their next match. Roma’s last game will be an away match against Cluj, and it could be a crucial match for second place. I have said from the beginning of the season that I don’t think Roma are a Champions League Final or Quarter Final team, but I would like to see them make it past the group stage.

That’s all from here folks, have a nice Thanksgiving Holiday if you’re in the States, and enjoy some Champions League this week.

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