Straight from the dark heart of Italy
Clued in to the clueless. That seems a neat summing up of Inter and AS Roma’s first foray into the Champions League or “the Champions” as the Italians call it.Well, certainly the two sides were a league apart in terms of their approach to their European jaunts.While Inter were organised, neat on the ball and tireless in closing down Panathinaikos, Roma were, well, the complete opposite in their shocking home defeat to Cluj.The Romanian champions arrived at the Olympic stadium in what was their debut in the competition, under the management of an Italian, Maurizio Trombetta, took one look at the rag-tag opposition and proceeded to play them off the park.
Romanian minnows run rings around Roma
“Roma, the big flops,” screamed La Gazzetta dello Sport. “Crisis time for Spalletti.”Wasn’t it only a few weeks ago that Serie Aaaaargh! sat in a Roman café enthralled as a vision of beauty claimed that, quote: “Spalletti has lost the plot.”And hasn’t she been proved so right. A case in point during last night’s game: with his side 2-1 down early in the second half the “Bald One” has Jeremy Menez and Stefano Makinwa warming up for 20 minutes.The clock is ticking so he looks over at the fresh-faced youths champing to get on and instead turns to Vincenzo Montella – lately of Fulham, Sampdoria and the treatment table - who, pushing 35, is slumbering on the bench.With barely time to pull up his socks, the little striker trots on and stands around until full-time puts everyone out of their misery.
"Montella, get stripped. We need your pace up front..."
Francesco Totti was on the pitch as well but had forgotten how to kick a ball and was another ignominious figure – and just to think we came to praise Cesar. Cue whistles, jeers and general outpourings of discontent. So, what about Spalletti to Milan and Carlo Ancelotti reborn as a winner in the capital where of course he was a well-loved player back in the 80s?Meanwhile, Jose Mourinho can do no wrong. In between winding Catania sporting director Pietro “the monk” Lo Monaco up, following the weekend spat at the San Siro where the Portuguese accused visiting midfielder Giacomo Tedesco of a bit of play-acting to get Sulley Muntari sent-off , he spends the rest of his time getting the best out of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Adriano.Yes, the very same pair who under Roberto Mancini either moped around or spent their time exiled in Brazil.Ibrahimovic was a revelation in Greece and the way he dragged a ball down on the edge of the area, held off one challenge and flicked the ball over another defender before flicking a pass to Mancini to score, was reminiscent of a certain Marco Van Basten – another Ajax alumnus – in his prime.
Jose and Zlatan prepare to do the boogie-woogie
The “no look” pass to put Adriano clean through for the second had Mourinho off his feet and hugging the Swede in what looked like an act of unbridled love.More likely, however, it was more a confirmation that the “Special One” is getting his message across: you can go out there and take teams apart by playing attacking football.Belief, that’s all that is needed: Something that has sadly disappeared out the back door at Roma.
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