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Roma 0, Milan 0: Bullet Dodged


Sometimes a draw is like a win, and tonight was absolutely one of those times. Coming into the match in seventh place, facing the second place team who were only one point off of the league leaders, I had planned to spend the match in a bunker to try to avoid the pain. So I can’t help but be happy with a draw, even if we only played really well for maybe 15-20 minutes of this match. We played well enough, we got our fourth clean sheet of the season, and stole a point, too. Like a Christmas present I wasn’t expecting, I definitely feel like this was a bullet dodged.

An epic battle

The first half was certainly not without its chances, but it was also a little sloppy and filled with incomplete passes from both sides. The tension was high and the game was fairly physical. It was amazing, actually that the first yellow was in the 39th to Armero. Also, Diego Lopez was once again my MOTM. He was called on in big ways, such as in the 29th, to stop Gervinho repeatedly, as well as his teammates. But the thing that Roma fans will remember from the first half was in the 31st minute, when De Jong handled the ball in the penalty area and Rizzoli did not call it.

Mind you, it wasn’t that cut and dry. It was at a really tough angle to see, and in the first viewing, it was hard to tell whether the ball had deflected off of Gervinho’s shoulder or De Jong’s hand. Only from multiple replays was it clear that it should have been a handball. And even then, a penalty wasn’t a guarantee of a goal, especially with Lopez’ form tonight. But Roma fans likely feel robbed of at least the opportunity for the win.

"Read my lips"
The second half is when the game came to a boil. Cards flying everywhere, including a yellow for De Jong for fouling Nainggolan, and a yellow for Mexes in the 86th for dissent after mixing it up with Destro, who had kicked Lopez in the head. But the card that had the most impact was the second yellow and sending off for Armero for a handball in the 69th. This left Milan on 10 men and forced Inzaghi’s first sub, pulling off Honda for Alex in the 73rd. This also leaves Milan with three players suspended for Sasuolo: Armero obviously for the red, and Mexes & De Jong for card accumulation.

With ten men, the game did open up a little bit for Roma, but Inzaghi seemed to tighten up the defense and we saw fewer chances on goal. Looking at the subs made it more obvious the difference in quality, as Garcia brought on Ljajic, Destro, and Torosidis. Meanwhile, Inzaghi brought on a newly recovered Alex, Muntari, and El Shaarawy. When you consider the starting eleven, especially that back line, it’s amazing that we stayed in the game and kept a clean sheet.

Alex was a sight for sore eyes

Menez did his best to punish his former team on his 100th Serie A cap, and Mexes, also formerly a Roma player, had quite the game on his 250th cap. I thought Bonaventura and Poli also played well, even if they slowed down toward the end. Even Bonera and Zapata, though they gave me a few heart attacks, played fairly well, all things considered. Whatever was lacking in quality of play was more than made up for in grinta and just plain heart, they really left it all out on that pitch.

Roma have to be disappointed with the result, and are possibly offering their “thanks” to Rizzoli as I type this, even if it wasn’t an easy call to make. But they also have themselves to blame. For the second consecutive week, teams higher than us on the table have played poorly and paid for it. Meanwhile, Milan’s performance was actually an accomplishment, even if it wasn’t very pretty out there. So I will go to sleep tonight feeling pretty good about our performance. Bullet dodged.


This post inspired by the music of The Vince Guaraldi Trio’s “A Charlie Brown Christmas” album


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