The light, as Mou lately calls it, was lit at sunset on the last Sunday of the championship before the world stop. Just as the curtain was closing on the 21 Giallorossi games of the season. With Roma gone and booed by their fans who can’t be asked more than the seventeenth consecutive sold out. Still 0-1 at the Olimpico, it would have been the fourth home defeat with the same result after those against Atalanta, Napoli and Lazio. Even Torino, when it was dark, was filling up in front of the 62.000 who no longer know what to think of this team turned off and fragile, empty and sterile. Simply a loser. But, with the sun gone, Paulo rises. It’s up to push the switch and rekindle the hope of being able to put in the standings at least one point before the tournament stop (only 10 in the first 7 home games: he made worse 15 years ago, in the 2005-2006 championship, with 8).
Dybala enters at minute 24. He will have 21 plus 5 to show how his absence has weighed on Roma’s performance in recent weeks. He left the scene on October 9, kicking the penalty against Lecce, decisive for the victory. Those were the last points the Giallorossi scored at the Stadio Olimpico yesterday afternoon in the photo-finish. An outcome with the stamp of the Argentine who will now go to Qatar with his Selecciòn. Paulo’s solo in front of Torino: it went just like that. Sad, in some ways, but true. «It was another game in the last twenty minutes» then Mourinho will admit. With a grimace. That has a meaning: now tell me that I was not right to regret the only player in the squad who makes the difference.
José was on the safe side at that stage of the match. No doubt to put him against that compact, dirty and bad Torino. And deservedly ahead. Paulo gets into the souplesse. Like he was in training. He will wait almost a quarter of an hour before hitting a corner. He has to warm his muscles. He’s still got a hot left-handed. In those 21+5 minutes he leans on the lawn of the Olimpico brochure with the best of his chic repertoire, calling the ball to remove all pressure to his teammates. They are just caresses. He wants to give courage to the team in full identity crisis, cuddling it in the crucial and complicated moment of the challenge. Dybala sows and reaps. He also finds time to be warned when he protests waiting for the recovery: the referee Rapuano does not whistle for the obvious foul at the top of the area. The Rimini race director will not be able to ignore the clumsy entry of Djidji. Paulo limps and leaves the penalty to Belotti. The Gallo makes a mistake, hitting the post. The Argentine gets back on his feet and goes to kick left. Around as only he can do. Matic’s crossbar and empty goal. Now Paulino can start more serene. José, waiting for him in the new year, must think of something else. There is a reassembly of Roma that can not depend only on his champion. He is sixth with Atalanta: in January he will have to chase the Champions League.