Don’t Underestimate Roma as Serie A Title Contenders
Roma are now top of the table in Serie A after their impressive win 3-0 over Inter Milan at San Siro on Saturday. This is their seventh victory in as many games scoring 20 goals and conceding only one. Not many had predicted such a bright start of the season for Rudi Garcia‘s men.
When Garcia was appointed at the end of last season, the former Lille manager walked into a club that had just lost the Italian Cup final to their fierce rivals Lazio. His job was to rebuild the club and restore confidence. His appointment was rather surprising as Roma fans were expecting a big name to coach their team. Even though he is a well-respected coach in France, Garcia was relatively unknown to Italian soccer fans. His only trophies were a French title and a French cup both won with Lille in 2011.
His first priority was to make sure that he had Francesco Totti on his side without giving him too much power. The Roman captain is very influential in the locker room and having him on your side guarantees you the control of the locker room. Luis Enrique, the former manager had a conflict with Totti and ended up losing his job. Between a coach and Totti, Roma have always chosen their captain.
His other priority was to keep Daniele De Rossi, the other local hero after Totti. The Italian midfielder has been at the club for over a decade and is also an influential player on and off the field. He was reportedly targeted by PSG and Manchester United. After convincing De Rossi to stay, Garcia signed Gervinho from Arsenal,Kevin Strootman from PSV Eindhoven and Mehdi Benatia from Udinese. Gervinho, who was part of Garcia’s team that won the title in 2011 is playing his best soccer again after a very disappointing season at Arsenal.
In terms of playing style, Roma are very similar to Garcia’s Lille that won the title in 2011. Roma are a very attacking minded side with a game based on short passing and constant movement of the players. His fullbacks are given license to push forward and support the attacks. The big advantage Roma have over other title contenders Juventus and Napoli is the fact that they don’t play any European cup this season. Having only one game a week to play,they can focus all their energy in the league while Juventus and Napoli will have to play twice a week every two weeks at least until December. Knowing how much energy the Champion’s League takes, not playing a European Cup could be an important advantage in the title race.
Rudi Garcia had a very difficult task when he arrived in Rome in June. In a few months, him and his team have earned the respect of not only Italy but all Europe. Even though it is still very early into the new season, Rudi Garcia’s men have already proven that they are more than capable of bringing the title back to Rome. A title that Roma fans have been waiting for since 2001
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