A match featuring Fiorentina and Roma is always a special one. Not just because they're both great teams, more often than not aspiring to a top-4 finish (05-06, anyone? Towards the end there was a hatred between the two fanbases to rival a Brasil-Argentina WC final). The main reason is that these teams for most of their history have never been immensely rich, not nearly enough to rival le Milanesi, Juve, Real, London+Manchester, etc., anyway. Yet these teams have always stuck it out, and have always been two of Italy's greatest teams. Recent history is direct proof of that: we all remember Fiorentina's bankruptcy, forcing them to crawl back to top-flight football from serie C2.
Roma, instead, suffered a devastating year shortly after their scudetto win and excellent league finishes due to economic struggles and terribly bad luck with coaches (I lost count of how many coaches they went through that year at 7).
Today, these teams are in second and first place, respectively. Both are playing a beautiful, fast, offensive style of soccer, which just seems to stick up a middle finger at Italy's and Italian teams', stereotypical catenaccio tactics.
Yes, tomorrow will be an intense game; in all probability a dozen fans will have to be hospitalized before the first whistle is first blown. But this game shouldn't be a bitter one: it should be a reminder, a celebration, of what a great team really is. Either way it goes, there is always going to be one sure winner, and that is the game of soccer.
Kuffour and Toni showed us love can exist amidst the most strained of situations, let us follow their beautiful example.
That said, let's send them back to Rome licking their wounds.
Fiorentina: Balzaretti, Dainelli, Donadel, Frey, Gamberini, Gobbi, Kroldrup, Kuzmanovic, Liverani, Lupatelli, Lupoli, Mazuch, Montolivo, Mutu, Osvaldo, Pasqual, Pazienza, Pazzini, Potenza, Santana, Semioli, Ujfalusi, Vanden Borre, Vieri.
Roma: Aquilani, Antunes, Barusso, Bertagnoli, Brighi, Curci, Cicinho, De Rossi, Doni, Esposito, Ferrari, Giuly, Juan, Mancini, Mexes, Panucci, Pizarro, Taddei, Tonetto, Vucinic.
Ujfalusi; Dainelli; Kroldrup*; Balzaretti
Donadel; Liverani; Montolivo
Semioli**; Pazzini; Mutu
*-Gamberini seems to have had a case of fever, Kroldrup might start in his place
**-Prandelli could prefer Santana to Semioli, still 50-50.
Panucci/Cicinho; Mexes; Juan; Tonetto
De Rossi; Aquilani
Taddei; Giuly; Mancini
Okay, unless you've been living in a cave the past two days, or in America, you should know:
1.) Mutu declared "Totti is good, but I am better".
Adrian. Adrian, Adrian, Adrian. What the hell is the matter with you? Dont you understand? It doesn't matter who you are, how good you are, you just don't say these things about Francesco Totti. I'd rant on about the pissed-off-proud-roman-looking-for-revenge factor, but...
2.) Totti isn't playing due to a thigh injury. pheew. I think this is more of a prevention type of thing, with a disgusting schedule coming up for Roma, but either way we should take advantage of his absence.
Right, so Mirko Vucinic is playing in his spot. While you might be breathing a great big sigh of relief, remember this kid scored 19 goals at age 22. I do, however, expect a bit less creativity coming from the lone striker position. As for the actual goal-netting, Mirko shouldn't be far off from Totti...he's more of a center-forward than Roma's golden boy is.
Let's not forget about Perrotta, though. He's missing too! Well, based on his recent attempts to *push* in a ready-made goal, and his miserable failure to do so, I'm actually wondering if this really is such a good thing...
Ok ok, jokes apart, Simone is one of the key elements of this Roma team, but Giuly has been doing all he can to make Perrotta's absences barely noticeable, missed sitters and all.
Honestly, I think Spalletti should line up his players in front of an open goal, tell them to keep on shooting till he says so, and come back in a week or so.
You know that defensive mid we were supposed to get this summer? Well, he would have come in really useful tomorrow. Stopping Roma's midfielders/wingers/semi-strikers in their tracks is a key element to winning this game, and it's going to be a really tough task. Luckily, the best defense is a good offense...right?
If Montolivo finds a way around De Rossi/Aquilani, Mutu does his thing, and Pazzini pulls a Toni or two (no pressure there, buddy), we could really have a gol-fiesta coming our way.
But, on the other hand, the players could be too damn tired to even drag themselves out of the locker-room, I don't know...I'll compromise.
Final score: 1-1 (Ujfalusi 47, Vucinic 73)
Man of the Match: Fabio Liverani
Hey, I'd love to be in first place, but I have a feeling the teams will be content with a tie by the time it's midway through the second half.
P.S. For the preview from Roma's point of view, check out Chris's always great Roma blog.