Ranieri has turned AS Roma around

BY foxsports • January 28, 2010

If there was still any doubt, last weekend's 2-1 win at Juventus was confirmation that coach Claudio Ranieri has turned around AS Roma.

Ranieri took over for Luciano Spalletti after Roma opened Serie A with two losses. Now, the team is on a 16-game unbeaten streak in all competitions.

Last season, when Ranieri was still the Juventus coach, he posted 2-0 and 4-1 wins over Roma.

"I wanted a balanced squad, because when I faced Roma I let them come forward and then I beat them because there were always openings in the back," Ranieri said. "We've gotten more solid. These guys had lost self respect."

With 38 points, Roma has moved within two points of second-place AC Milan, and solidly entrenched itself in the Champions League places - after missing out on the top European competition this season.

The unbeaten run - 13 wins and three draws - has been all the more impressive since captain Francesco Totti has been in and out of the squad due to various injuries, the latest a tendinitis problem.

Luca Toni scored twice against Genoa in his third game since joining Roma from Bayern Munich but has now been ruled out for a month after picking up a knee injury.

Norway left back John Arne Riise headed home an injury-time winner against Juventus, after also having drawn a foul that resulted in a red card for Juve goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon.

"That was the most important goal of my life," Riise said. "(David) Pizarro was fantastic. He provided me with a perfect pass and I all I had to do was push it in."

On Tuesday, Daniele De Rossi scored to give Roma a 1-0 win over nine-man Catania and a spot in the Italian Cup semifinals.

"Enthusiasm helps. We're running at full speed, pressing and supporting each other," Ranieri said. "We've got to take advantage of this moment."

Roma will have a good chance of extending its unbeaten run when it hosts last-place Siena on Sunday.

Milan, meanwhile, needs to bounce back from two tough losses when it faces crisis-laden Livorno.

Milan was beaten 2-0 by city rival Inter Milan in Sunday's derby despite playing most of the game with a man advantage - and finishing two men up - then was eliminated from the Italian Cup with a 1-0 loss to Udinese on Wednesday.

"Let's not get carried away with overanalyzing, because if we look back we've had a decent run," Milan coach Leonardo said. "We could have done better, but we've got to remain calm."

Leonardo was pleased that goalkeeper Christian Abbiati returned against Udinese for his first action since knee surgery in March.

"It's not easy to be in top form after a long layoff but he was exceptional," Leonardo said.

Livorno coach Serse Cosmi has apparently decided to stay on after offering his resignation following a 2-0 loss to Napoli last weekend.

The derby victory gave Inter a nine-point lead over Milan, although Jose Mourinho's team will be without suspended midfielder Wesley Sneijder and defender Lucio for a visit to Parma. However, Samuel Eto'o has returned after Cameroon was eliminated from the African Cup of Nations.

Likewise, Juventus won't have Buffon to face Lazio.

The loss to Roma left Juventus in sixth place and only increased speculation that coach Ciro Ferrara's job is at risk.

Also this weekend, it's: Bari vs. Palermo; Napoli vs. Genoa; Cagliari vs. Fiorentina; Catania vs. Udinese; Chievo Verona vs. Bologna; and Sampdoria vs. Atalanta.

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