Guest Post by “Er Prof”
Dear friends, unfortunately last week I could not post my comment on the match in Turin, but I can confirm that there are still clouds over the capital. It looks like there are few players who cannot accept Zeman’s ideas and on Sunday the great majority of us at the Stadio Olimpico were speechless when De Rossi and Osvaldo were both left on the bench. We are talking about two Italian internationals, one the top goal scorer and the other “Capitan Futuro,” who will inherit the captaincy when Totti retires. If you need a comparison it is like leaving Pirlo and Vucinic out of Juve’s starting eleven.
The first 20 minutes of the match with Atalanta were horrible for the giallorossi with plenty of chances for the black and blue from Bergamo, one of the Northern cities where the hate against Rome is more visceral. We luckily survived, thanks to the crossbar and three great saves by Stekelenburg. AS Roma finally started playing better and by the end of the first half we were in front thanks to a great pass from Totti (a little spoon pass) to Erik Lamela, the Argentinian striker who softly pushed the ball into Atalanta’s goal. Destro nearly scored a second, but he smashed the cross bar. Then Lamela was fouled inside the box, but the referee had his eyes closed so the first half ended 1-0.
During the second half AS Roma played calmly and without giving space to the opponents. Michael Bradley, back from injury, grew in confidence until he scored the second on an easy ball after a shot from outside the penalty area. Atalanta then seemed to have drawn level, but the referee (wrongly) disallowed it for offside. I ran away from the Olimpico before the end of the match, fearful of watching another victory be senselessly squandered.
I am proud and happy for Bradley who celebrated his first league goal for the wolves right in front of our seats. He played poorly at the beginning of the match, losing possession several times in midfield, but the entire team started with fear in their hearts. Bradley’s performance improved dramatically over the course of the match and I hope he will be on the pitch in Genoa in two weeks time. I remember him from last season’s match in Verona against us; he was one of Chievo’s best players, always fighting and stealing dozens of balls from our midfielders. Now Bradley needs to develop the ability to make the vertical passes crucial for Zeman’s 4-3-3 system to work.
Of course, in Italy soccer is like a religion and so Bradley’s chances of replacing a healthy, in-form De Rossi are almost nil. But Zeman clearly thought Osvaldo and De Rossi were not working hard enough during training, while Bradley showed greater effort and convinced the Bohemian Master. After Sunday’s game, I am confident the American will be a regular choice as one of the three midfielders.
Come on Michael, this is your time!
Filed under: The Players