Sunday, April 22, 2012

Soccer Gods Dislike Me Today

After some thought, I have come to the conclusion that the Soccer Gods chose me to dislike, effectively ruining my Sunday. Here's what happened:

Juventus 4 - 0 Roma

My enthusiasm was high this afternoon, as the first important football match of my weekend approached - Roma, my team, versus rivals Juventus. A crucial match for both sides - Juve vying for the Scudetto, Roma for Europe - what could be better?

Nothing, until reality struck: the Old Lady tamed the Lupi, taught them how to give paw and scalded them for licking their own butts. A 4-nil drubbing in a match that should have meant just as much to Roma as it did Juve. Hats off to the Bianconeri for being absolutely brilliant all match long, but they were aided in their efforts by a dysfunctional Roma performance. 

Here's what went wrong: Roma Coach Luis Enrique had the tactics and line-up wrong from the get-go. I'll admit, Daniele De Rossi has been effective at center back over the past few games, but with Gabriel Heinze available and the issue of Juve's playmaking midfield at hand, DDR should have started in the midfield in an effort to stunt Juve's midfield movement before their attacks heated up. As a result of De Rossi's missing presence in front of the back four, the Juve midfield titter-tattered their way through the likes of Fernando Gago, Marquinho and Simone Perrotta to arrive with some serious space in front of the defense. Furthermore, Enrique decided to leave out Francesco Totti, who was coming off a huge performance against Udinese and was ready to give his all in a rivalry match that always means something to him.

I understand the manager's thoughts of needing to rest certain players, given a midweek game on the horizon, but at this point of the season and the position Roma is in, all games and all points are critical. The best team needs to be fielded, no matter what - no excuses. This is one of several occasions I think Luis Enrique has actually lost Roma the game.

DC United 4 - 1 New York Red Bulls

Ironically, game number two of my day brought a similar result and effort from my hometown team, NYRB. In what should have been a cagey grudge match (NY and DC have somewhat of a rivalry) the Red Bulls failed to understand the concept of defending, just like Roma! These two dismal performances from teams I love were so coincidental, that I think the Red Bulls must have watched Roma earlier in the day and took notes on how to roll over. Imagine my disgust at the 60 minute mark seeing the scoreline 4-0 and thinking "hmmm, this reminds me of the Roma game since it is the exact same horrible scoreline."

What went wrong: Pretty much everything. The defending was horrible: players who were introduced into the starting 11 - Lade & Palsson - didn't really click with the rest of the group. In turn, the defense was pretty scattered and individual, rather than what you would expect from a group of professionals. Simple clearances were botched and nearly every set piece was neglected. Moreover, offense was hard to come by and when the Bulls did get something going, DC transitioned quickly to surprise their shaky defense. Overall, it was a terrible effort in a game the Red Bulls could have won.

Mother always said there'd be days like these.

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