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Roma-Milan Preview: In Bocca al Lupo


In English, it is considered superstitious by those in theater to wish someone good luck. So instead, they say “break a leg.” But in Italian, they have a great phrase for luck. They say “in bocca al lupo,” which means “into the mouth of the wolf.” The person then replies, “crepi,” which means “may he die.” Well on Saturday, we literally go into the mouth of the wolf. Whether or not the wolf dies or we die remains to be seen at the final whistle. But one thing is for certain, this fixture is never pretty.

Perhaps he should have stuck to the violin

When looking at results, it’s obvious that Roma have the advantage. They are only one point behind Juve at the top of the table, and have won 11 of their 15 matches. If Juve drop points again this weekend, the wolves will be licking their chops when we arrive at the Stadio Olimpico. However, they won’t have quite the bite that we are used to seeing. Coach Rudi Garcia will be serving a touchline ban for allegedly almost slapping a steward last week in Genoa. Also suspended will be Astori, Cholevas, and Pjanic. They will still be without Balzaretti to long-term injury, Castan, Ucan, and Skorupski, and Torosidis and Manolas are also doubtful for fitness reasons.

They won their match at Genoa, but lost their coach and three players for our match. I’m not sure if that is luck or if it will inspire them even more. Or will Castan’s recent brain surgery be their inspiration? It’s hard to know if the missing pieces, particularly Garcia will inspire or deflate them. For that fateful Genoa match, Garcia lined up De Sanctis; Yanga-Mbiwa, Maicon, Astori, Cholevas; Nainggolan, Pjanic, Keita; Ljajic, Florenzi, and Gervinho. Even without their injured and suspended players, they are a better quality team right now than Milan.

Will they be protagonists or antagonists when they face their former club?

Speaking of Milan, we have definite injury woes. We are missing our entire starting defense: Alex, Rami, Abate, and De Sciglio. Plus we are also missing Mastour, van Ginkel, and Niang to injury, with doubts as to Muntari’s fitness. At this point, we are hoping to still have eleven players to take to Rome. We also have to consider that both Menez and Mexes are ex-Roma and also prone to cards, so we may not end with eleven players even if we do have enough to start.

There is a lot of optimism after our win vs. Napoli on Sunday, but we have to remember that this Milan are like a box of chocolates. Will that team show up on Saturday? Or will it be any other incarnation that we have seen this season? Either way, they will still need a bit of luck to pull off the win. So in bocca al lupo, boys.


This post inspired by the music of Diana Krall’s “Christmas Songs”


Roma vs. Milan
Saturday, December 20 • 20:45 CET (2:45pm EST)
This match will be shown on RAI and BeIN Sport in the U.S.