In a season where everything seemed to be going so right, AS Roma was sent crashing back to earth after losing to southern rivals Napoli 3-0 (5-3) in the Coppa Italia semi-final second leg. After winning the first leg 3-2 in Rome at the Stadio Olimpico, thanks to a masterclass from Gervinho, Roma could not find a way past goalkeeper Pepe Reina. The loss means that Roma will likely end the season without a trophy yet again, and the Giallorossi will not have won anything since the 2008 Coppa — unless you want to count this summer’s MLS All-Star Game…
Due to Roma’s postponed game against Parma and their bore nil nil draw in the Rome Derby against Lazio, they currently sit nine points back of leaders Juventus. The gap represents an insurmountable gap, even for captain Francesco Totti, and only the brave would bet against Juventus retaining their title as Serie A champions.
Despite being agonizingly close to reaching their second Coppa Italia final in two seasons, this year should not be viewed as a dissapointment by any means. Prior to the start of the 2013-14 season, Roma had more questions than answers and they had just hired Frenchman Rudi Garcia, their sixth coach in five years. Expectations were low following a sixth place finish the season before, and after the Roma management sold stars like Pablo Osvaldo, Marquinhos and Erik Lamela, many expected Roma to struggle.
With the new attacking philosophy of Garcia and the acquisitions of Mehdi Benatia, Kevin Strootman, Radja Nainggolan and Gervinho, Roma all of a sudden began to play with a chip on their shoulder. With the threat of Totti, Miralem Pjanic and Mattia Destro in the attack, Roma has combined flowing soccer with killer finishing to restore themselves to the European elite. Unless absolute tragedy strikes, Roma should hold onto second place in Serie A and qualify for next seasons Champions League, which hopefully will attract the attention of some top players.
The objective this season for Garcia has been to build a team for the future, one that will challenge the mighty Juventus for the Scudetto and the elite of European soccer. Before championships can be won, solid foundations must be built, and with Garcia at the helm, Roma is the team to look out for in the future. The wolves of Rome are hungry, and they are biding their time until it is their turn to strike.