Champions League: The Effects Of Roma’s Elimination By Porto

Roma’s day after the night before began with numbers. The stock market numbers, where after their elimination from the Champions League their share price fell 8.98% to 0.4633, another €3m slipping through their fingers. The numbers of the American ownership – first DiBenedetto, now Pallotta – in European competitions. Since 18th August, 2011, Roma have played 22 games in the Champions League and Europa League, and have won just 3 (5-1 against CSKA Moscow and 3-2 against Bayer Leverkusen at home in the Champions League, and 2-1 away against Feyenoord in the Europa League), losing 10 and drawing 9. They have conceded 46 goals (more than 2 a game) and scored 25. Nothing has changed, either with Luis Enrique, Rudi Garcia or now Luciano Spalletti (4 games against Real Madrid and Porto, 3 defeats and 1 draw, 8 goals conceded and just 1 scored – and that an own goal by Felipe).

President James Pallotta, even though statistics are a fundamental part of sport in the United States, spoke like the most Italian of owners after Roma-Porto: he attacked the Polish referee Marciniak for the two red cards shown to De Rossi and Emerson Palmieri. “Disgusting” was his expression. An impression he had from across the Atlantic that neither Spalletti nor Sabatini, real football men, made any indication of from their position up close. UEFA’s directives on dangerous foul play are clear and Maxi Pereira, soon after De Rossi’s foul, had to leave the pitch. De Rossi and Palmieri will be fined because, as Spalletti reminded Arrigo Sacchi – who from Mediaset Premium’s studios asked him about the lack of discipline on the pitch – “at Roma there is a clear set of rules that apply to anyone who reduces the team to 10 men”. Spalletti also pointed out that last season, when he was coach, there wasn’t a single straight red card.

Sunday evening’s game at Cagliari has already become a very delicate one. After the match comes an international break and the end of the transfer window. Pallotta, in the last few days, has revealed something Spalletti said to him: “He told me that this is the most talented group that he’s ever managed”. At Roma, people are too quick to exalt themselves. Florenzi, for Sabatini, was ready to become Dani Alves, and Paredes, in Spalletti’s view, “is better than Pjanic”. Actions on the pitch say otherwise. Roma’s ins and outs this transfer window has, have always, been many, but the lack of a clear first choice keeper remains a risk, Fazio was signed but hasn’t played even when Vermaelen wasn’t available, the role of left back is unclear after Mario Rui’s injury, there is no regista, Gerson isn’t ready despite his expensive transfer fee, and Dzeko still doesn’t convince everyone. Roma’s management made it understood yesterday that no key players (Manolas, Nainggolan, Rudiger) will be sold to make up for the lack of Champions League revenue (€30m). The truth is though that Roma, other than not selling, need to buy. Spalletti doesn’t miss an opportunity to talk about the errors in moving the ball around and in game management. The message is very clear: he needs a regista. The best player for the role remains Borja Valero, but Fiorentina won’t drop their €20m valuation. To sign him, small operations like Torosidis and Sadiq to Bologna aren’t enough (yesterday Fenucci and Bigon were at Trigoria to close the deals). What will Pallotta do, other than criticise the referee?

This article is a translation – the original was written by Luca Valdisseri for Corriere della Sera.

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