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Thursday September 13 2012
Osvaldo's U-Turn

Marginalised in pre-season, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo is suddenly the main man for club and country. Why? Good luck, individual brilliance and his daughter’s prayers, explains Scott Fleming.

The 2012-13 season looked like being a challenging one for Pablo Daniel Osvaldo. A career defining one, perhaps.

Last year the Buenos Aires born striker was one of the few success stories of Luis Enrique's Roma, hitting 13 Serie A goals on his return to the peninsula after a year and a half in La Liga with Espanyol, and collecting his first senior Italy cap.

But then he got injured. Then his form dipped. Then he failed to make even the preliminary Italy squad for Euro 2012. And then Mattia Destro arrived at Roma. Having zoomed through the fast lane, seemingly en route to achieving everything he had hoped to in his adopted country, Osvaldo was suddenly presented with a series of red lights.

The former Azzurrini forward may have worked with Zdenek Zeman before - at Lecce in 2006 - but that didn't stop him looking like one of the odd ones out in the wake of the Czech's appointment at Roma. In Zeman's trademark 4-3-3 there appeared to be room for just one central forward, and having spent 11.5m on him, that striker would seem to be Destro.

There was more disappointment when Osvaldo failed to make the Italy squad for the England friendly in August, despite Cesare Prandelli selecting a experimental group full of youngsters and lesser lights.

But as luck would have it, when Catania visited the Stadio Olimpico on the opening day of the season three weeks ago, Destro was suspended. Osvaldo started, scored a magnificent overhead kick, and hasn't looked back.

Just seven days later the Giallorossi routed Inter 3-1 at San Siro. It felt like the moment Zeman's Roma truly arrived, and Osvaldo was in the vanguard, scoring the second goal with a chip that was both effortless and extraordinary, and setting up the third with a classy clipped pass.

Then came the opening game of Italy's World Cup qualification campaign last weekend. Thanks to his form - and Mario Balotelli's eye issues - Osvaldo wasn't just back in the squad, but back in the starting line-up and back on the score sheet, netting a brace in the space of four minutes to salvage a point for La Nazionale in Bulgaria.

“Italy have unearthed another centre forward,” declared the Gazzetta dello Sport the following day. “Osvaldo was both convincing and clinical.”

“I usually score beautiful goals and these were somewhat scruffy, but they are worth just as much,” the 26-year-old smiled after his trickling low shot and deflected header in Sofia. “I want to dedicate these goals to my daughter Victoria, who every time she goes to church says a prayer for me and lights a candle, so they are for her.”

Destro's suspension? Balotelli's contact lens problems? Hmm, perhaps someone above has been listening to little Victoria's prayers. Divine intervention or simple good fortune, whatever it is, Osvaldo has certainly made the most of it. And as a result the most challenging season of his career, is looking like it might also prove to be the best. 

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Have your say...
I saw him at a friendly over the summer. Even then, he pushed the tempo and brought havoc to liverpool's defense. Same as he has done this season so far. Mustafa needs to drink about a gallon and a half of HATER-AID......
on the 16th September, 2012 at 3:07pm
@DiRocco

One fanatic comment doesn't make a wise comment or person. And the odd are stacked against your under-achieving team, coach and Osvaldo.

Good luck for your "Floppy-stuta"

And looking forwarding for the game against Juve so we can welcome you hospitably. If you know what I mean :)
on the 14th September, 2012 at 5:10pm
Osvaldo has looked great. He can score some truly brilliant goals that rival anything the best are doing currently. I hope he can stay in shape and flourish under Zeman.
on the 14th September, 2012 at 2:10pm
Dear Scott, with all due respect, but you clearly don't follow Roma very closely as Osvaldo was never marginalised by Roma during the pre-season. Zeman said from Day 1 that he was putting a lot of faith in Osvaldo, and if he keeps working well in training as he's been doing since July 5th, he'll keep his place as first choice centreforward (although he can also go wide left as he did in the final minutes against Inter, from where he provided the assist for Marquinho's peach of a goal).
on the 14th September, 2012 at 1:16pm
All the best for Osvaldo and all Italian strikers.
on the 14th September, 2012 at 8:05am
time will tell.
on the 14th September, 2012 at 7:51am
in terms of talent, the guys got enough of it to comfortably lead Romas frontline for many years to come. His hunger and aggression is unparalleled by most strikers in Italy.

sure he's got a temper, and can attract silly suspension, but his is part of Roma. The Romanisti of both past and present aren't exactly known for their sanity, look at Totti's kick on Balotelli if you dont believe me. But Totti, like Osvaldo, are still players you'd love to have in your team.

Daje Roma.
on the 14th September, 2012 at 1:03am
@ Mustafa

2 great goals in the two first league matches of the seasons. The odds are greatly stacked against you in your foolish comment. Chance are Osvaldo will net many great goals this season under Zeman. Don't be supprised to see both he and Destro in the top 5 scoters this season.

Daje Roma!
on the 13th September, 2012 at 11:00pm
Batistuta !?

LMAO

He's nothing but a flop !

Two great goals don't make great players !
on the 13th September, 2012 at 9:34pm
@saitotti well not only injuries, red cards as well..we all know about his temper hahahahah
on the 13th September, 2012 at 8:47pm
I'm glad that Osvaldo is finally in top shape, now he just needs to maintain some form of consistency to help Roma be a true contender this year. As a Roma fan, right now it feels really good to say that our top 2 strikers are Osvaldo and Destro. If these two guys play to their capabilities, we can guarantee a spot in Champions League next year...and man does this guy ever score some beauty goals....DAJE ROMA!

Greetings from Canada.
on the 13th September, 2012 at 8:03pm
Welcoming OSVALDOAL !!

His getting close to be the next batistuta for roma...

Only injuries cant stop him right now...

Forza roma !!
on the 13th September, 2012 at 5:48pm

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