Serie A Preview: Roma - Milan

Starting Anew Possible Formation (4-3-2-1): Doni; Cassetti, Mexes, Juan, Riise; Perrotta, De Rossi, Brighi; Pizarro, Aquilani; Vucinic Possible Formation (4-3-2-1): Abbiati; Zambrotta, Kaladze, Maldini, Jankulovski; Seedorf, Pirlo, Ambrosini; Kakà, Ronaldinho; Pato For Roma, they must put 2008 behind them and try to begin 2009 on a positive note. Surely, winning over one of their chief rivals, Milan, would be a big first step. While Roma have been absolutely terrible on their travels this season, losing six of their nine away fixtures, they have done well at home, winning five of seven matches played. They have given up twenty-three goals this term, but only seven of those have come at home. The problem, however, is that they aren’t scoring as many goals as they have in past seasons. Having put up at least 70 in each of the last three seasons, they are on pace this term for less than 50. The main reason for that, certainly, is the absence of Francesco Totti, who has only made ten Serie A starts. Players like David Pizarro and Matteo Brighi can provide an attacking element, but neither of them can score goals like Totti does. Also, main striker Mirko Vucinic doesn’t score as many goals as you would expect from the first-choice attacker for a Champions League side. Speaking of the Champions League, Roma’s performance in that competition has been about the only bright spot for the Giallorossi this season. Victory in four of their six group matches (they lost the other two) put them in first place in Champions League Group A, ahead of Chelsea FC. They have been pitted against Arsenal FC of the English Premier League for their round of sixteen home-and-home matchup, which will take place in late February and early March. Not to Be Outdone… Milan’s season hasn’t gone according to plan, either. Sitting nine points back of Serie A leaders Internazionale, many people believe they are already out of the title race. They shouldn’t lose hope, however, as there are still twenty-one matches remaining in the season, and the expectations for the squad in 2009 are even higher. After winning their last match by an astonishing 5-1 score against Udinese, Milan have shown that they are still as strong as ever. With players returning to fitness and Kakà and Ronaldinho becoming accustomed to playing with each other, they can have a bit of realistic optimism for what they can do in the second part of the season. It remains to be seen, however, if players such as Andriy Shevchenko and Filippo Inzaghi can make more of a contribution to the side. Shevchenko has yet to reacclimatize to life in Italian football, but it could simply be that sitting on the bench for two years at Chelsea FC has taken away some of his best days, and he is now on the decline. As far as Inzaghi goes, he just has to stay fit. He can still contribute to the side, as his penalty box poacher style of play doesn’t require a lot of running or dropping into midfield. Moving on, there is the not-so-small matter of David Beckham coming to town. While he is not the same player he once was, his arrival into the squad should provide a period of improved play simply due to the excitement of the crowds both at home and away. He will only be in Milan for a short loan spell (unless the executives can work out a longer deal) and Milan will probably be playing in front of a packed house wherever they go. While Milan are not in the Champions League like Roma, they have advanced to the knockout stages of the UEFA Cup. The Rossoneri have been paired with German side Werder Bremen, with the first leg being played in Germany in late February. It will most likely be the most entertaining encounter of the first knockout round of the UEFA Cup, and is certainly the most anticipated.


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