Monday, 25 February 2008

Roma 1 - 0 Fiorentina; Roma 2 - 1 Real Madrid

ok ok I lied to you all. I promised to write about Roma-Real last Wednesday and then I never did. In my defence, I was busy giving an interesting (I think) and accessible (I hope) class on positivism, Darwin, Marx, the fin-de-si├Ęcle and the theory of relativity, along with a brief whizz through art history from Impressionism to Abstract Expressionism via Aetheticism, Symbolism, Cubism & Futurism, and urging my students to read Nietzsche and The Picture of Dorian Gray. Which left little time to write about beating Real. Besides which you did it for me. My brother, being a literary bod (and one with offers from Rutgers, Yale & NYU besides) likes to bang on about the contribution of the reader to the text. Blogging takes that dialogue much further, so that I write "here is a post about Roma-Real" and then you lot construct the actual post. Brilliant. How's that for demolishing authorial authority...

now you're distracting me again, dammit.

So, Roma-Real. We had a horrid start, conceding after just 7 minutes, which frightened the life out of me when I had not yet fully recovered my breath from my own personal horrid start: I was late leaving work and the 280 bus up the Lungotevere took over an hour to get me to the Olimpico (I'd have done much better to walk) such that I had a mad rush to arrive in time, and was still running up the stairs in an awful panic when what is known here as the inno della champions (that laughably overblown choral theme tune) was playing. And when the second shortly-to-be-disallowed goal went in I had a terrible moment of despair. The linesman who flagged for offside raised his arm infinitely slowly, painfully inch by inch, before giving a theatrical flourish of his flag as he finally brought it up to triumphantly brandish at the celebrating merengues, really milking his moment for all it was worth, like an even less significant Graham Poll, torturing us all. Cunt. But then things got better as we got - very slowly- better, the curva - full to bursting - got louder, I remembered how to breathe, and Pizarro remembered that he's supposed to actually contribute to the match rather than bimbling about amiably but fruitlessly and managed to put the ball in the back of the net. 1-1 at half time. The second half we looked more like Roma ought to look while they looked increasingly like The Incredible Arjen Robben Show. Our second was a classic Mancini effort, 2-1, HFD as my mate Garibaldy would say.

And a bit of positive momentum to carry over to yesterday's game against Fiorentina. After the shameful capitulations at Juve and previously Siena (Juve-lite) it was good to see a bit more determination and above all tactical nous on show. Not vintage stuff, sure, nor the kind of sparkling attacking football the team is capable of, but a hard-working and well thought out performance against a strong and capable Fiorentina. They looked especially good in the first half, but without Mutu (nasty knee injury shortly before half time) looked weaker up front. Bobo looked fat and old. About as mobile as Sol Campbell at his most battleship-like.

Ufjalusi had Vucinic in his pocket the whole first half, but clearly someone gave Mirko a bollocking at half time, or perhaps just injected him with something, because he looked a new man in the second half and actually started creating chances all over the shop. One of which turned into Cicinho's first ever goal in giallorosso, enormously to his delight. I don't think the concept of over-celebrating has ever occurred to him, and his excessive excitement got the better of him in injury time when he was sent off for a second yellow after shooting a nanosecond after the whistle had gone. But it was a good goal to round off a good performance. De Rossi was stellar as ever, and Doni looked fantastic. Totti was better than he has been for a month or so, more mobile, striking the ball better, but a long way from his old self nonetheless. Still, yesterday he equalled Roma's all time record for Serie A appearances (set by captain and legend Giacomo Losi, a centre back nicknamed Core de Roma, who played for the giallorossi from 1954-69 making 386 Serie A appearances and captaining the Fair's Cup winning side in 1961).

Meanwhile a tiny yet potentially significant new change has occurred in the Sud. Inexplicably flouting the pacifying, conformity-inducing presence of the Magical Yellow Staircase, the curva apparently remains insufficiently law-abiding. People continue to scramble inelegantly over the perspex barriers which divide it from the distinti. Since the Curva Sud is basically season-ticket only, this is the only way other fans have to get into the central section. Ultras without their own abbonamento, visitors, those under banning orders etc have to enter over the barrier. This is done by grabbing the top of the barrier, swinging one leg up to get a foothold on the top of the metal bars which support the perspex, hoisting oneself vigorously up to straddle the barrier (in a matter which to my ignorant eye looks somewhat threatening to the male anatomy) and then jumping down over the other side.

Perhaps concerned for the testicular health of the Roman population in light of Italy's notoriously low birth-rate, the authorities have decided to Put a Stop to this Vile Degeneracy. Moving from place to place! not sitting in their allotted seats! It's practically terrorism, when you come to think of it. The thin end of the wedge... one day you sit in a seat not your own, the next you're knifing the Milanese and setting fire to police cars. The new stewards, of course, have done nothing whatsoever to alter the situation (they just sit on the Magic Yellow Stairs in their yellow jackets, yellowly making no attempt to control anything at all). Instead, since last Tuesday, extra little pieces of metal have been welded onto the existing metal struts, so as to remove the tiny ledge which offered the vital foothold for intrepid barrier vaulters. The welding (or do I mean soldering? feel free to correct my metal-working inaccuracies) is a bit rough and ready but it does the job. Arriving from the distinti around 14.50 on Sunday was a succession of chagrined young men who greeted this development with disgust. Some got over anyway, but with a lot more difficulty (and a lot more comedic struggling). I'll let you know how things develop.


oscar said...

Ah yes, the infamous jump/climb over the wall...first time I tried that I required the assistance (in form of coaching) by a very amused young fellow who for all his kindness thought it was pretty funny seeing me sitting straddled atop the plexiglass, somewhat composed, as I laid out my strategy of landing in CS.

Btw, I just last night started re-reading The Picture of Dorian Grey! Anything I should look out for in my reading, to get more from it, Professor Spangles?

Richard said...

I was baffled by Spalletti's decision to sub Vucinic yesterday. It came at a moment when he was the game's dominant player.

Dodgy sub notwithstanding, Spalletti can at least be pleased that he won that sartorial battle in the dugouts. What on earth is Prandelli doing, wearing a figure-hugging quilted violet lycra jacket over a violet rollneck sweater? He looks like an extra from Purple Rain. Camp beyond belief.