Last season really seemed like the last hurrah. Roma failed miserably in the league – a sixth place finish for a second consecutive season, despite all the expectations from their Barcelona-system manager, Daniele De Rossi presumably on his way out and Francesco Totti looking older than ever.
Then come big moments, in a season that’s going just as bad. Juventus, a team that Roma haven’t beaten at the Olimpico since the 2003-2004 season, the champions, the league leaders, come into the capital confident, but tired. Totti comes up as the big winner from this match, scoring a sensational goal from outside the box. In a season that has already seen a manager get sacked (Zdenek Zeman) and a replacement that hasn’t changed much (Aurelio Andreazzoli), it seems like Totti’s presence and push towards another great season (10 goals in 24 league matches, 225 in his career) is the best chance for Roma to make it into Europe.
Chances? Not that great. With a game ahead of the rest, they’re still six points out of the fifth position. Their ability under Zeman wasn’t all that bad; it were the results that didn’t come. Since he’s been sacked, the unity between the midfield and the attack hasn’t been in to shape, with the Totti-Lamela-Osvaldo front three looking quite detached from a defensive looking midfield unit. Totti plays a much more attacking role than during most of the season ,and it’s clearly affecting the way Roma can control the midfield and build up attacks consistently.
But sometimes, these things do not matter; not when an individual rises and shines above tactics and plans. In truth, it wasn’t a great match from Totti; few are from the 36 year old, who’s looking slower and slower from week to week, but still hasn’t lost his touch, when he shoots or when he looks for the killer through ball.
On the other side of the fence, Juventus were missing some sort of transcendent figure to give them the win. As Andrea Pirlo is clearly not the same player he was last season, being a team that excels in depth instead of being led by one or two extraordinary individuals, watching Roma being led, at least in spirit, by a player who is still their most important player on the pitch despite his age, Antonio Conte knows he may have a problem, bigger than fatigue, as he heads into the final matches of the season. Sometimes, overall quality superiority isn’t enough. You need that one person to push you over the finish line, with something that’s more than ability. In Francesco Totti, Roma still have that kind of player.