Saturday October 26 2013
Make or break for Roma

In the midst of an injury crisis, Alex Mott ponders whether the wheels are about to come off the Roma title challenge.

It was the news that no Roma fan wanted to hear. After limping out of their 2-0 win over Napoli last Friday, the Giallorossi confirmed that inspirational captain Francesco Totti would be out for the next month with hamstring damage. After an early season in which the veteran had become probably the best player in the League, it was a real kick in the teeth for the capital club’s tifosi.

Totti has been directly involved in nine of Roma’s 22 goals this term, playing as a deep-lying forward and bamboozling defenders half his age. His early performances have been so brilliant that Italian national team boss Cesare Prandelli has been slowly coming round to the idea that the 37-year-old could be persuaded to come out of international retirement and take his place on the plane to Brazil next summer. “Totti deserves a lot of credit,” the Coach told Sky Sport Italia earlier this week. “It’s impossible not to think about Totti at the World Cup. But I don’t want to talk about it at the moment for luck.”

His presence on the pitch and exemplary leadership will be sorely missed then by Roma, but if that wasn’t bad enough for the Lupi, what came next was in some ways even harder to take. On Tuesday evening, after tests had taken place, Rudi Garcia’s side confirmed another injury to another forward player – this time it was Gervinho who would have to be sidelined. It was another hamstring pull, and it would keep the Ivorian striker out for the next fortnight.

If Totti has been pulling back the years in a Roma shirt this term, then Gervinho has been performing like his Arsenal days never even happened. Derided in England where he spent an unhappy two-year spell, since reuniting with his former Lille boss the 26-year-old has been a phenomenon, described by Garcia as: “an unpredictable player and difficult to stop. There are not that many players who can dribble like Gervinho. He is rare.”

His movement, pace and confidence on the ball have been superb at this early stage, and the combination play with the captain and fellow forward man Alessandro Florenzi has seen Roma become one of the most exciting sides to watch in Europe. For at least the next three games, that will be disrupted.

Upcoming matches against Udinese, Chievo and Torino are now set to be real tests of this Roma side’s Scudetto ambition. Unbeaten so far, they are the favourites to upset another Juventus procession. Never before has a team won its first eight games and failed to lift the title, but the next few weeks will really quiz the mettle of the Stadio Olimpico side.

Adem Ljajic, brought in over the summer as a direct replacement for Erik Lamela, will now get his chance to show why the Giallorossi fought such a public battle with Fiorentina to sign him. And Marco Borriello, for so long the nearly-man of Italian football, will also likely be placed in the XI.

Pre and post-Halloween will be make or break for this Roma team – get over this mini injury crisis, and they will be immortalised in the Eternal City. Get it wrong though, and the wheels may just come off their title challenge.

Have your say...
Only know, after a 100% of 10 games, I allow myself to dream. Savor the sweetness of the moment, before the inevitable draw or (gasp...!!!) lost come knocking the door. At last we can proof that Roma is not one man team. Without Totti we come and conquer the Udine, nonetheless.

Forza Romaaaaaa.....!!!
on the 28th October, 2013 at 7:06am
Defense is winning these games! Derossi is the master of this defense! And midfield is making goals!
Its a compact team and as long as defense is doing good they will win!

I Love ROMA!!!
on the 28th October, 2013 at 2:34am
Please Football Italian respective staff, would someone please write something about the consequensive so called referees mistakes that occurs repeatedly in Juve's matches? It is something so obvious and it occurres every single Juve match. I think it's a phenomena that needs to be highlighted at least.

If you don't have the balls to write about it that's ok. We won't call you another paid Italian referee.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 4:25pm
9 games 9 wins amazing. Missign Totti, Gervinho and Destro still out amazing. Not our best performance but antoehr win. To win with 10 men for 30 mins is great and to score the goal in that time is also great. Great heart and spirit and great substiutions at the right time by Garcia. Bradley on 4 mins and scores the goal. Its our time. GRAZIE ROMA. Cesare call Jorginho and Parolo from Parma both having great seasons and deserve a shot.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 4:11pm
Totti has been at his finest at the last weeks is one thing. But it also needed to be tested that Roma is not one man team. We need his absence to test this thesis. His absence is good for the team in the long run.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 12:48pm
As great as Roma have been so far, there's certainly no championship winning team there. They simply don't have the numbers in reserve when things go wrong injury/suspension-wise.

To be relying at Totti at this stage of his career is a little shortsighted of Roma.
on the 27th October, 2013 at 2:18am
Roma should see every game is the "final game".If we looked back,roma had a bad habit with "mediocre" team.Hopefully,Garcia will make'em FOCUS in every battle
on the 27th October, 2013 at 1:55am
As I said before;
it's gonna be Perfect October (10 wins) and then
they can work on Perfect Winter (17 wins)

See ya
on the 26th October, 2013 at 9:53pm
It's not Gervinho nor Totti that was critical for Roma this year. It was defense and Strootman-De Rossi-Pjanic midfield who set the grounds ever so perfectly for both Totti and Gervinho's games to flourish. Ljajic and Borriello are both genuine strikers who know how to take advantage of chances which will most likely be provided from the incredible midfield trio.

P.S. If De Rossi keeps it up like this he might end up competing for the Golden Ball
on the 26th October, 2013 at 6:27pm
Why don't you wait for them to lose a single game this season before you start going negative...
on the 26th October, 2013 at 5:20pm
Great article. I really hope Lljajic can fill Gervinhos shoes and that perhaps Pjanic would substitute for Totti.

It will be interesting to see if they´re gonna play a different game tomorrow and if they´ll try to use Borriellos target player skills.

I don´t worry too much against the upcoming matches as long as De rossi and the defenders keep playing the way they´ve been doing but then again, "Roma is Roma". Hopefully they have better confidence now so that phrase will get a new meaning..
on the 26th October, 2013 at 4:56pm

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