Sunday, March 13, 2011

Totti Is Still The King Of Rome

AS Roma's forward and captain Francesco Totti (L) celebrates with team mates after scoring against LazioCometh the hour, cometh the man. As Totti stood over his seventieth minute free kick, there was a great feeling of inevitability in the air. The Roma-Lazio fixture has been one so often dominated by the legendary Francesco Totti, that the sight of the Italian's free kick blasting into the net was hardly a surprise to many of the seasoned watchers of Italian football.

Amazingly, what ended up as a dramatic, even violent derby, started quite benignly, with little intensity to the game and Totti (how dare he!) actually making up with Stendardo following a challenge on the Lazio man. The first half's best moment came quite early on, when the inform David Pizzaro, struck a curling shot off the crossbar. As the first forty-five minutes dragged to a dissatisfying conclusion though, many a viewer began to wonder whether it was just going to be on of those derbies.

From the neutral perspective, the second half started much the better, with Lazio displaying the sort of verve and commitment which has propelled them so far up the Serie A standings. Sergio Floccari went close with a header, and it looked for all the world like it would be Lazio to break the deadlock.

Arrive, Totti. With Lazio clearly in the ascendancy, and Roma forays into the opposition half becoming fewer and more far between, it was a relief to all involved with The Giallorossi when a foul on the edge of the box led to a pressure relieving free kick for Roma. Immediately, the ball was surrounded by a collection of Roma players, all anxious to see their names in the papers the next morning, but really, there was only ever one candidate, and his name wasn't Mirko Vucinic, or even Joan Arne Riise.

As David Pizzaro prepared to tap the ball into Totti's path, cameras picked up a laser point, being fired into the face of Lazio keeper Muslera, and one wonders whether it was this that put him off, or just the sheer ferocity with which Totti spanked the ball. Whatever the reason, Roma were 1-0 in front, and it was Totti, with a suck of his thumb and a run towards the crowd, who was leading the wild celebrations.

Despite that blow to Lazio's cause, the away side still must have felt that  they were in the game, especially after such a long period of domination. However, in the minutes between Totti's strike and the blowing of the final whistle, Lazio were to self destruct. Having been frustrated by Totti's antics in the period of play following his goal, the Lazio team totally lost control. First, Stefan Radu head butted Roma substitute Fabio Simplicio, with the obvious result of a straight red card for the defender. But worse was yet to come. During the six minutes of stoppage time added on by the referee (most of which was needed to make up for the time lost during the constant brawls that broke out following any controversial challenge) Simplicio was upended in the box, and during the ensuing protests, Lazio captain Christian Ledesma received his marching orders. With Lazio down to ten men, the penalty was merely academic, but Totti still smashed it home, kicking off wild celebrations inside the Stadio Olimpico.

As the game ended in a whirl of chaos in confusion, one had to feel sorry for the unfortunate referee in charge of this, most fiery of affairs. During the second half in particular, it felt as though the referee spent more time intervening with fights then actually governing the game play, and the official did well to come through having got all the important decisions spot on.

Doubtless, all the hype following this game will be about Roma's brilliant captain, Francesco Totti. Not only did Totti score goals, but his clever dribbling and ability to win free kicks in important areas helped relieve the Roma defense of pressure on countless occasions. And then there were the goals. Both demonstrated the superb gift that Totti has for striking a football with both power and control, with the second one in particular a real net buster.

Coming out of this game, Vincenzo Montella's troops will feel full of confidence for the rest of the season, and if the in form Udinese team do slip up, then Roma will be there to pounce on the fourth and final Champions League spot.

Will Roma get fourth?

How will Lazio fare for the rest of the season?

1 comment:

  1. Chan Le: David, are you serious?! Nice blog, man.