Roma Club Focus: King Totti strikes again
All the headlines on Monday – and deservedly so – were for Francesco Totti as the Roma captain scored his 225th Serie A goal for the club, equalling the total that Gunnar Nordahl achieved at AC Milan and the Giallorossi in the late 1940s and 1950s.
Totti joined Nordahl as Serie A’s second top goalscorer of all time with a powerful and perfectly placed penalty under the Curva Sud, before he set up the two goals that won the game for the Giallorossi in the second half. Simone Perrotta and Totti have played together for some years now and the two combined in classic style late on to seal the game as Perrotta laid the ball out wide before bombing towards the near post and converting Totti’s low cross.
While Perrotta is an old head, Alessio Romagnoli had not even been born when Totti was already scoring goals for Roma. On 58 minutes though, the two combined to restore the advantage when the 18-year-old defender easily beat Luca Antonelli to head home Totti’s corner. The celebrations were genuinely heartfelt as not only the rest of the starting XI flooded over to celebrate his first Roma goal with him but most of the Giallorossi bench as well.
What was even better to see was that the determination and desire that the team showed last week against Atalanta was still in evidence against Genoa. Roma have given away numerous points from winning positions this season and have often not shown the spirit required to regain the initiative after losing a lead. Although there was a loss of focus after Totti’s goal that led to the Grifoni dominating most of the rest of the first half, in the second half the team looked sharper and reinvigorated.
That said, Roma were far from at their best on Sunday night. The 3-1 scoreline does not reflect the balance of the game, and perhaps the unsung hero of the match was Maarten Stekelenburg. The Dutch goalkeeper has come in for a fair amount of criticism for allegedly not caring about the team’s situation and for not shining when called upon, but he silenced his doubters with a superb performance against Genoa. On several occasions, he pulled off some top class saves to keep the likes of Juraj Kucka and Andrea Bertolacci at bay, and was only beaten by a well struck Borriello penalty.
The frequency with which he was called upon to make his saves was concerning though. Amid the euphoria of Totti’s goal and the celebrations of another win, Simone Perrotta was a little concerned about the general performance. “Looking at the last three games, this was a step backwards in terms of the performance”, he mused. “But a victory against an opponent of this sort is positive. We’re happy with the result, but not the performance. We will do better next time”
Next time out is another stern test of Aurelio Andreazzoli and his team as they travel to Udinese, where they have struggled in recent years after losing four of the last five trips. Udinese have also been strong at home this season, losing just one of 13. It will be a difficult task, but Europe is once again within touching distance for Roma. As Totti now sets his sights on Silvio Piola at the top of the Serie A leaderboard, Roma must also look upwards and make up lost ground in the chase for Champions League football.