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Jay Scardina On December - 20 - 2010

Roma Review: Roma End 2010 With a Win in Milan

Since this was the final game before the Winter break, I was hoping for a battle, and that is what I got. I was a little skeptical about Roma’s chances going into this game. Their poor performance against Bari the week before gave us Giallorossi fans little confidence. Even though Roma defeated Bari, the team as a whole seemed lethargic. Also, when I heard that Vucinic was not available I thought that the best outcome would be a draw. Ranieri had little choice but to put Adriano up front with Borriello. Totti has done little to prove himself this season. Less shocking were his choices for the back four: Mexes, Burdisso, Juan, and Riise. Roma’s defense had to be up to the task, as Milan had Robinho and Ibrahimovic up front. Milan aren’t sitting on top of the table for nothing. They have the talent up front, and when Pato is fit to play he is always a threat on goal. Milan’s defense is another story though as aging players still see 90 minutes on the field. Roma also had another issue though, without Sergio or Lobont , Doni was back again as goalkeeper. With only one half under his belt this season he looked like easy pickings for Milan.

Roma were very shaky on the ball in the first half, while Milan looked so confident with their passing and possession. At times they looked like they were toying with Roma and looking to score a spectacular goal as an early Christmas present for their fans at the San Siro. Robinho had an early chance after getting past Mexes, but the ball went wide. Roma’s defenders committed several fouls to stop Milan’s momentum. That kind of strategy can only work so many times before the ref will pull out yellow cards, and this was not a game to go down a man. The foul on Pirlo by Menez did not look bad initially, but ended up taking Pirlo out of the game. This was a huge loss to Milan as he is such a key playmaker. Ibrahimovic had a fantastic chance as he caught Roma’s defenders sleeping, and was one on one with Doni. However, he stopped and seemed to be thinking about how to take the shot instead of letting his instincts take over. He paid for it as Doni blocked the shot and fell onto the ball to make the save complete. Roma still failed to commit any real chances and seemed content to end the first half 0-0. I knew one thing though, there was no way that this game would end with out a clear winner. I bet Allegri was fuming at his forwards for making such terrible mistakes in the first half. Roma looked much more confident in the second half, but both teams were unable to create any serious chances early on. Borriello was unable to beat Nesta when he caught a long pass in the penalty area. Then Menez made one of his signature runs to the byline and passed the ball across the goal. Borriello and Adriano were both in the area, but Borriello got the lucky touch. Milan was burned and the frustration was all over their faces. Seedorf kept taking long range shots that went nowhere, and Ibrahimovic was caught offsides on almost every pass made to him. It could not have been a more fitting end before the break for Roma, to win 1-0 in Milan, and for Borriello to score the winning goal. Now they sit at 5th place with 29 points with a clear shot at a Champions League spot for next season. I am skeptical about their chances at the title, but a Champions League spot is a definite possibility.

I will admit that for the first half of the season Roma have not been consistent enough. They win big games against clubs like Inter and AC Milan, but fall to lower clubs like Cagliari and Brescia. Then there is the question about what to do with Totti. It was obvious this past weekend that the team plays better with out him starting. This is something I have been saying for months. When Vucinic is fit he needs to take Totti’s place alongside Borriello. Totti needs to face the music and accept his place on the team. He should be a super sub, a player that comes on to pick the team up when they need that extra push. All one has to do is see what he did for Roma against their Champions League game at the Stadio Olimpico against Bayern Munich. It was his pass to Borriello that lead to the penalty kick, which he scored to win the game. Then he starts against Palermo that following weekend, and bombs. He will always be a legend, but it’s time for some other players to build their legacy. Players like Menez, Borriello, and Simplicio have been doing very well this season. Roma need to build on players like them if they want to advance up the table.

The Champions League draw also took place last week. Roma will face Ukranian side Shakhtar Donetsk. Although Roma drew with a side that is not the toughest team in the final 16, they are not a side to be underestimated. Shakhtar topped their group which included Arsenal and Braga. I think that Roma’s chances in the Champions League will depend highly on what happens in the January transfer window. If Roma lose key players like Mexes and Vucinic with out picking up valuable replacements they will have a much harder time moving forward. Also, Totti’s position on the team will factor as well. If he continues to start and play 90 minutes the team will only suffer. Right now there are only rumors regarding Roma’s Winter transfer decisions. Also, I think that Roma’s players sometimes suffer from a lack of focus and confidence. If they can get through some of that then I think they can be a tough team in the Champions League and Serie A. They have a talented squad, and they have proven they can play well together as a team. That is all for now, I wish everyone at happy holidays, and happy new year!

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