Here’s my prediction for tonights Champions League battle: Rome wins again. 2-1. I know an away goal is a difficult feat, hence their importance. But I got a good feeling about tonight. How good is the feeling? Fuck it, I’m calling for 2 Roma goals.
Luciano Spalletti, who is a football genius, rested 5 of his starting side from club action this week, so they could be well-rested for tonights match. And if there’s anything worse than facing a healthy, ready, hungry, AS Roma squad, it’ll be facing that same side with Totti, Mancini, De Rossi, Chivu, Panucci all well rested.
Now my prediction is of course based on my huge desire to see Roma win, but also this squad is capable of great things, and this is a huge game. For both sides yes, but bigger for Rome.
Manchester would certainly love to net a treble, but the side is not as dominating as it could be, after a suprise defeat to Portsmouth on the weekend their lead in the Premiership has shrunk to 3 points. Their home needs to be kept in order and that split focus is distracting. Rome is a comfortable second in their domestic league, but that won’t change, so they’re poring everything they’ve got into the Champs League campaign, hence resting half their side.
A couple of other factors:
Scholes: While Paul Scholes was a menace in Rome, deservedly sent off in the 34th minute, there’s no denying he’s a leader, with tonnes of experience and certainly a comforting thought for his back line which is fielding a couple unprovens.
Perrotta: Rome will be without Simone Perrotta. And that sucks. But back in the game will be David Pizarro, who didn’t play in Rome due to suspension. That’s an even up trade for Roma as far as I’m concerned.
When Rooney scored in Rome it was the first time that Roma’s back line had been breached in almost 3 hours of Champs League football.Mexes and Chivu are one of the best central defending pairs in European club football. Manchester can score, and they did, but it won’t be easy.
Manchesters back line is comprised of really tall, really over-rated Rio Ferdinand, who is more likely to turn a game with a big blunder than a big tackle. The pair of O’Shea, and Brown are second choices who don’t really strike fear into the oppositions attack. Coupled with Argentine national Gabriel Heinze they are strong and capable, but collectively they will be nervous.
Rooney and Cronaldo vs. Totti and Mancini
One of these guys has a large amount of posters in a large amount of teenage girls bedrooms and often cries like a teenage girl when things don’t go his way, another had an ocean of speculative ink spilled on newsprint prior to the World Cup. Another has 14 screws in his ankle and won the World Cup, the last is my favorite player on the Roma side, which was reinforced when his stepover samba made a Lyon defender pee his pants.
So there it is, Roma should win and advance, but dammit, they also should have done better in Rome to slam the door on Manchester, the fact that they didn’t means it’ll be an exciting game tonight…I’m already really excited. And I’m not the only one whose heart is already racing. Certainly the AS Roma fans who are on their way to Manchester, the ones who aren’t begging for trouble anyway, but the regular diehard fans, they have to be hoping they won’t get beat down by either the police or the opposition fans in some sort of perverse retribution for the debacle in Rome last week. Also keenly praying and strategizing will be the UEFA powers-that-be, hoping that they can stem the tide of violence that seems ready to surge back into European sport headlines and dominate the ‘Beautiful Game’ once again.
I only care about that a little bit. I certainly hope everything goes orderly in the stands of Old Trafford tonight, but where I want some real old-fashioned amok-running is on the pitch. In my fantasy scenario Roma play much as they did in Rome, and Manchester continue to play on their heels as they did in the first leg. And of course, Roma advances. It can happen, and it should.