ROME -- AS Roma caught a break on Monday when Serie A authorities ruled Sunday’s postponed match at Cagliari a forfeit and award Roma (2-1-1, 7 points) three points. The game was supposed to take place behind closed doors because Cagliari’s temporary stadium, Stadio Is Arena, has yet to pass security tests set up by the national soccer federation and Sardinian authorities.
But before the game Cagliari president Massimo Cellino told fans to come to the stadium anyway, forcing the federation to step in and postpone the match. In addition to Cagliari being award a loss, Cellino is likely to be disciplined, as well.
"Massimo Cellino's behavior is unacceptable and damages the image of the whole of Italian football," Italian Soccer Federation president Giancarlo Abete said from Warsaw. "It's incredible, unacceptable and disturbing; besides anything else, certain behavior in Serie A has far-reaching effects. Cellino represents the League on the federal board, I believe that the higher up you are the more responsibility you have to assume.
"All this will certainly be punished, but the league has to learn a lesson from it and take the cue to improve the behavior of its leaders."
The Federation’s ruling does give Roma a positive result to fall back on after last week’s loss to Bologna, when the Giallorossi let a 2-0 lead turn into a 3-2 loss. Roma have looked crisp and in sync in most games this season. But their record is due to mental lapses that shouldn’t be occurring on a team looking to make a return to Champions League.
Roma hosts Sampdoria (3-0-1, 10 points) Wednesday night at the Stadio Olimpico. Sampdoria blanked AC Milan 1-0 on opening weekend and have averaged 1.75 goals through the first month. Not playing against Cagliari allows Roma to come in fresh physically, though mentally the players may be rusty after not having played competitively since Sept. 16.
On the plus side, Michael Bradley should be available for selection for the first time since Aug. 26. Bradley has been sidelined with a thigh injury for the last few weeks and had to miss two games, plus a couple of World Cup qualifiers with the U.S. national team.
In Bradley's absence, young midfielder Alessandro Florenzi has flourished and has the hot foot, having scored twice in his last two games. Both Bradley and Florenzi scored in Roma’s 2-1 victory over Liverpool at Fenway Park on July 25, an indication Roma coach Zdenek Zeman could count on their midfield partnership for the future.
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