AS ROMA 2013-14
CB Benatia, CB Jedvaj, ATT Ljajic, ATT Gervinho, ATT Borriello, MF Strootman, GK De Sanctis, RB Maicon, Manager Rudi Garcia Key Departures:
CB Marquinhos, ATT Lamela, ATT Osvaldo, GK Stekelenberg Mercato Rating = 7/10
As much as fans hated to see Marquinhos
sold, it was excellent business both financially and for the immediate prospects of the team. Benatia
is one of the few best established CBs in the league and probably underrated by people outside of Italy due to lack of exposure at Udinese and the Morrocan NT. Tin Jedvaj
is only 17 but seems like a good bet for a Nastasic type breakout in the next couple of seasons. Getting both of those guys with €15m leftover for a 19 year old -- no matter how good he becomes -- is one of the best moves of the summer.
Getting rid of an underachieving, underwhelming Stekelenberg
and replacing him with a solid veteran leader like De Sanctis
is a massive plus in the short term as well. We'll have to buy a younger keeper in the near future but De Sanctis commands the defense with a presence Stekelenberg severely lacked. Lamela
may well turn into a superstar and I would have loved to keep him but since Roma isn't one of the clubs loophole exempted from FFS I suppose it needed to be done. However, as most commentators who watch a lot of Serie A seem to agree, replacing Lamela with Adem Ljajic
who has a high ceiling and a bit more tactical savvy at the same age and may actually be a better fit for the club in the short turn. Gervinho
should also add some quality depth and his movement will keep defenders a bit honest from clustering around Totti. I hope being reunited with Rudi Garcia will help him get over the problem finishing he had at Arsenal to some degree and that Garcia wasn't fooled by remembering the outstanding player he was for him at Lille. Strootman
is a boss, no two ways about it. Thank god Man U didn't get him, he was exactly what Roma needed most. Maicon
may go back to partying after the WC but it's a shrewd signing considering his focus on getting into top condition and pushing for a big season to keep him on the Brazilian NT for the WC.
The one major market negative was the problem moving Osvaldo
(who continued to refuse every possible offer until late in the market) and then missing out on a suitable replacement to fill in for Destro until he's recovered. Osvaldo was a headcase and had it out openly with a large segment of Ultras from day one but he's one hell of a talent when he comes to play. I'll miss him. Until Destro returns, we're left with no real #9 aside from Borriello who is a solid old-time, in the box, hold up #9 but hardly a good fit for Garcia's tactics.
The biggest move of the summer was bringing in Rudi Garcia as manager after the Luis Enrique and Zeman experiments didn't pan out. I like Garcia an awful lot and much preferred him over the other candidates such as Mancini, Blanc and even Walter Mazzarri. Lineup 4-3-3
GK De Sanctis (Lobont)
RB Maicon (Torosidis) -- CB Benatia (Jedvaj) -- CB Castan (Burdisso, Romangoli) -- LB Balzaretti (Dodo)
MF De Rossi (Bradley) -- MF Pjanic (Florenzi) -- MF Strootman (Bradley, Marquinho)
ATT Ljajic ( Gervinho, Caprari) -- ATT Totti / Destro (Borriello) -- ATT Florenzi / Totti (Gervinho)
Easily the most balanced side we've had since 2010. Destro's slow recovery from knee surgery this past spring is the biggest issue. No one's sure when he'll be back. Rudi Garcia prefers to use a 4-3-3 with the top three given a lot of freedom to roam. Until Destro returns this will mean an almost Luciano Spalleti-esque 4-6-0 with Totti as the center forward shifting around Ljajic, Florenzi or Gervinho and any of the three MFs getting into the box at any given time.
A lot depends on Destro; we really need him back and whoever else gets injured in International break that's been our plague the past few years. However, Totti has started the season as possessed as last. I would go so far as to say he's easily been among the best 20 players in the world over the past year as a look at his assists and key passes bears out. He needs to stay healthy though or we're in trouble without Destro.
The defense is much better with De Sanctis and Benatia and even though Garcia will play an attacking style I expect we'll at least have a solid defense for a welcomed change. Juve
, of course, are heavy favorites. Due to the quality depth they have, a deep run in CL would do little to affect their league run as long as Pirlo stays healthy. Fiorentina
will be better with Rossi who already has 3 goals in his first 2 matches and Gomez offers the elite poacher they've need to finish all the chances Valero, Pizarro, Cuadrado a Co. create. Napoli
under Benitez should be just as good as they were last year. Cavani is a big loss but Higuian will flourish in front of Hamsik and Insigne as well. The concern is their midfield and defensive depth if they make another CL run and how the wingbacks Mazzarri chose for the 3-5-2 adjust to a 4 man back line. AC Milan
still has a lot of quality and Allegri is a good manager so I'm not counting them out. Kaka may be past his best days but can still help them immensely against the lower table sides that are so difficult to break down in Serie A and where table positions are ultimately won. Balotelli finishing all the PKs they get will keep them in the hunt for the top 3.
I think Roma will be in the mix for 2-5 in the table. I imagine that it will be a great race with not a lot of separation between 2-9 in the table again. Inter, Lazio and Udinese (with their normal Spring run after Guidolin works his magic of transforming newly arrived kids into champions in half a season) may all figure into race for a CL spot but all have more holes in their rosters than the five clubs above.
For people who don't watch a lot of the league, it should also be a pleasant surprise that a majority of the contenders behind Juve like Roma, Fiorentina and Napoli play pretty open attacking styles.
This post was edited on 9/8 at 9:42 pm