The Juventus v. Roma Card-a-Thon

Oh, how I love Nicola Rizzoli.

This guy is the best of the best, both in Italy and internationally. And while he’s much more measured on the international circuit (his 2013 Champions League final was a master class in letting a game flow), he plies his trade in the drama-filled theater that is Serie A.

Bless him.

Most weeks, he starts the game just letting things go, trying to ignore the tumbling and the begging and the tragicomic theatrics. But inevitably, there comes a moment – usually not too far in – when he snaps and turns into Dad in the Front Seat. (“I swear to God, I will turn this car around!!“) Then the cards start flying.

Nicola Rizzoli, Serie A, Juventus, Roma

“If I have to tell you kids ONE MORE TIME…!”


Case in point: Juve v. Roma.

About 26 minutes into the biggest game of the year, the BEIN Sports guys mentioned that there had yet to be a card shown. They pointed out this was “not usual” for Rizzoli, who showed 9 yellow cards at Chievo on December 15 alone.

And then they laughed, and laughed. Because sure as death:

Daddy’d had enough.

Five yellow cards. Two red cards. One penalty kick. Countless free kicks. All in the last hour.

The first three yellow cards came in the space of three minutes, from the 33rd to the 36th. And then it was on like whatever the Italian version of Donkey Kong is. Juve picked up the first two cards (both yellow); all the rest went to Roma, who were reduced to nine men late in the game.

Both red cards were no brainers, though. The first, to Daniele De Rossi, was for a horror two-footed challenge in the 75th minute, that Chiellini fortunately walked off. The second was for a blatant handball when Leandro Castan slapped a clear goal out of the net. (Castan was being held, and Rizzoli did take his time and consulted with his team to make the call, but once Castan stuck his red-gloved hand in the air it really couldn’t have gone any other way.) Former Roma man Mirko Vucinic, adding insult to fatal injury, converted the resulting penalty for the final score of 3-0.

Rizzoli decided to blow his final whistle without adding any time, probably to stop the bleeding.

It’s unfortunate it came to this, because – as often happens before big games – there were dark rumblings from the Roma players ahead of time, suggesting that Juve usually get a little “extra help” from the officials. Considering their past, I guess it’s understandable, even though no one really believes that Rizzoli is anything but honest.

Or, rather, ambitious. Mr. Smooth wants the World Cup final way more than he cares about any of you peasants.

And he will turn this car around if he has to.

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