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Roma eterna

AS Roma 4, Viktoria Plzeň 1
Stadio Olimpico, Rome, November 25 2016 (NZST)


It’s been a while since the last time I wrote about my first love.

It’s not because I don’t love Roma anymore – quite the contrary. And it’s not because I’m not watching them play at the moment – quite the contrary. But my passion for the giallorossi has been muffled a bit by my inability to enjoy the games live.

Most of the matches seem to be falling on Monday mornings either at 3am or 8:45am.

At 40 years of age, gone are the days when I could watch a game at 3am, go back to bed, wake up at seven then mosey on off to work as if nothing has happened. Especially when I get four hours sleep at most, spend two hours faffing about trying to get streams to work properly, then I am usually too hyped up from the result, whatever it might be, to get back to sleep before 6.

These days I end up paying dearly for that for the rest of the week.

8:45 is just as useless. I’m at work by then and confined to peeking at Twitter in between meetings, phone calls and e-mails.

I download the games of course, and watch them in the evenings. But I lack the self-control to avoid the result and when you already know what happens football loses about 80% of its magic. So I’m watching the games out of a sense of devotion but barely getting much for myself out of the experience.

Yesterday was different though. It’s been a full on couple of months at work, and yesterday was the first day in what seems like forever when, while there were things I COULD have been doing, there was nothing that absolutely HAD to be done in the two hours that Roma’s Europa League game vs the Czech Republic’s Viktoria Plzeň was taking place. So, bugger it, I watched it at my desk.

And what a difference a live game on decent broadband makes!!!

I normally find it difficult to get too excited about the Europa League group stages, but the way Roma have been going lately there are no easy matches.

Ummmmm what do I mean “lately”??? It’s always like this. But still…

Good performances seem to be followed by bad in strict rotation. In the least surprising development in the history of the world since the producers of ‘Rocky’ said “let’s make another sequel”, Coach Luciano Spalletti has been criticised. But it seems to be quite muted by the fact that we are performing well in spurts. It’s not like we are in a hole we are showing absolutely no inclination to climb out of like we were this time last year under Rudi Garcia.

There are a couple of players who are not really cutting the mustard, but in the main they are those who wouldn’t be playing if we hadn’t had so many silly injuries. Our defence has suffered from this the most. I can’t remember the last settled full strength back four we’ve had… I suspect you’d have to go back to the Sensi era to find it, before our current American owners took the club over in 2011. In short – any issues we may have are in no way the coach’s fault.

Spalletti will celebrate a year back at the helm of the club on January 13, and my excitement at his return for a second stint hasn’t dulled. Seeing his big old chrome dome prowling the technical area fills me with happiness and confidence. I have absolute trust and faith in him which is more than I can say for the tenure of any other manager we have had since he walked out back in 2009.

Sure, I loved Zdeněk Zeman, but I can’t put my hand on my heart and say I trusted him completely. I mean, who could? He’s as mad as a meat axe – that’s why some of us loved him so much.

The other person I would trust with my life at the moment is Edin Džeko! Who would have said that a year or even a few months ago? What a difference a few goals make. Before he was missing open nets from point blank range. Now, he’s still missing a lot, but you know without a shadow of a doubt he will average one per game almost like clockwork. His hat-trick yesterday was absolutely bloody fantastic – just total class and he could have had six!

Sure, the Perotti goal was out of this world…

…but it was also a total fluke by the player’s own admission afterwards. The first Džeko goal, on the other hand, was my goal of the season so far that I can think of right now.

That got me up off my office chair wooting and causing my colleagues to wonder what the hell I was doing!

Then a bloke called Zeman scored for the Czechs – of course that was always going to happen.

He looked quite handy actually, pink Mohawk and all. A real cut above the rest of his team mates, and maybe worth a few dollars on the transfer market even if it’s just for the sentimental value of his name.

So it was 1-1 at the break. It was tempting to despair given our multiple second half capitulations this season, but somehow I knew we’d pull away when it counted – and we did.

A win like that is a great way to get the weekend off to a great start with a spring in my step. We play Pescara at 8:45am this Monday morning, and there’s no way I will be able to watch that live. But then it’s the Derby della Capitale vs Lazio at 3am next Monday…

Somehow, for that, I think the week of pain will be worth it…

Categories: Roma/Italian Calcio

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Enzo Giordani

A grassroots sports photography enthusiast based in Auckland, New Zealand, and a fan of the most magnificent football club on earth - A.S. Roma.

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