Roma Top Serie A Christmas Tree (1 Viewer)

kaizer

Senior Member
Nov 1, 2003
2,973
#1
Roma top Serie A Christmas tree


As Italy enters its midwinter break, James Richardson's festive round-up drools over mistletoe, wine - and Francesco Totti

Monday December 22, 2003


Christmas time, mistletoe and wine, and a group of red-suited figures chortling "Ho ho ho".

Yup, as our friends in Serie A settle around their festive trees, it's the folks at AS Roma who are happiest with the present situation, as the last round of the year has left them a whopping six points clear of the competition.

"Careful, we haven't won anything yet," scowled Roma manager Fabio Capello. But while it's true that second place Milan have, like a happy child on Christmas morn, a game in hand (please stop - Ed) deep down even Fabio knows there's bags to smile about. Roma haven't lost all season, picking up 36 points from a potential 42, scoring a league high 31 goals in 14 games, and conceding a league low of four. As Marcello Lippi of Juventus puts it, "If Roma continue like this, it's goodnight everybody."

The only fly in Roma's festive ointment is that while Juve's Pavel Nedved jets off to Paris for the Balon d'Or, Francesco Totti has once again been completely overlooked in the Christmas honours. He barely registered in the Balon d'Or running, and what's more, despite being palpably the greatest thing in stockings since satsumas (please - Ed), the Fifa World Player Awards saw him awarded precisely the same number of votes as yours truly - i.e. not a single mention.

How can this be? After all, in the words of his massively mandibled manager Capello, "the only player you can even compare to Totti right now is Zidane." Adds Roberto Mancini of rivals Lazio, "Frankly if Totti played for Juventus, he'd have won the Balon d'Or years ago'. :fero:

This weekend anyway the Roma captain produced yet another masterclass away to Empoli, scoring twice, with the second a velvet-smooth chip from the edge of the area. Roma then sat back and waited for Sunday's results, which were almost all to their advantage.

Milan - without Nesta and Shevchenko - tumbled at home to Udinese in what has become a traditional pre-Christmas collapse. "I blame the airplanes sitting with their engines running at the airports. My players were already thinking of warm beaches!" thundered boss Adriano Galliani (at least, I think that's what he said). "Next year the players can stay here and train!"

Juventus meanwhile fared little better. The Turin giants mustered a meagre point away to relegation battlers Lecce, and that only after Marcelo Lippi allowed David Trezeguet into the game. Trezeguet had been left out of the starting 11 in a move possibly not unconnected with his stuttering contract talks with the club. It's a technique Juve had previously used on Edgar Davids, but it didn't work out too well on Sunday: trailing to a second-minute goal from Lecce's Axel Konan, Lippi was forced to throw Trezeguet on in the second half. The Frenchman glumly slotted in the equaliser then banged what would have been the last-minute winner onto the post. That'll learn 'em.

By Sunday night only one side had a chance of eating into Roma's giant lead: Inter, who visited Lazio at the Stadio Olimpico.

While Alberto Zaccheroni's Inter came into the game fresh from six straight wins, Lazio staff and players spent the week competing for the most ill-timed admission. First star midfielder Dejan Stankovic announced, two days before the game, that he'd rather be playing for the opposition and looked forward to them hurrying up and buying him. Then manager Roberto Mancini - who this summer signed a five-year contract extension after being strongly linked with Inter - told the Roman press he now 'regretted his decision to stay put.'

Naturally, Lazio's fans were disgruntled. The Curva Nord stood empty for the first 15 minutes of the match before the irriducibili filed grumpily in to start some serious whistling. Half an hour in their fears seemed confirmed when former Lazio star Christian Vieri beat the hapless Matteo Sereni for the opener. But lo! Thirteen minutes later Bernardo Corradi flicked a magnificent pass from Stankovic past a gobsmacked Francesco Toldo and it stood square at 1-1.

The turning point came midway through the second half. Matthias Almeyda, a former Serie A Player of the Year uncovered by Zaccheroni in one of Inter's many broom cupboards, staged a magnificent one man brawl after picking up a yellow card for someone else's foul.

Teased by Corradi, Almeyda (no relation to Tony) ran over and grabbed the Lazio forward's face with both hands. ***** fight! Referee Trefoloni was standing right beside him and reached for his cards again - but Almeyda reached quicker, snatching the red card from the ref's grip and concealing it brilliantly behind his back.

The nonplussed Trefoloni still sent him off. After a few more lunges at Corradi, Almeyda shook hands with the official (check your rings, ref) and began to walk, only to then sprint back round the arguing pack of players for another pop at the Lazio player. Restrained again, Almeyda's final act was to hurl an unidentified object at the crowd before disappearing into the tunnel.

"I ask forgiveness from my team-mates and Inter's supporters" said a penitent Matthias post-game, but by then it was too late; Lazio swarmed all over ten-man Inter in the last half hour, finding the winner eight minutes from time through Luciano Zuari to end the nereazurri's unbeaten run, and cruelly shatter their dreams of a warm second place for Christmas.

So, Roma six points clear of Juve and Milan, and eight of the now-tied Inter and Lazio. The New Year opens on Tuesday, January 6 with another whopping fixture at the Stadio Olimpico: Roma v Milan. For now though, with aeroplanes running on the tarmac and warm beaches awaiting, that's very much it.
 
Aug 1, 2003
17,675
#2
they say those who stay top on serie a during the christmas break will most probably win it.

well, they've been proven wrong in the past 2 seasons.
we'll get you, roma, we will. :devil:
 

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