Combining mesmeric control with thrilling efficiency, the beauty of this side lies in their heroic nature and determination to succeed. Calcio may not be what it once was, but if a resurrection ever occurs, it will be because of clubs like Roma.
An Italian football team owned by Americans, the club have embarked upon a journey to not only create a winning sporting project, but a global brand that will appeal to people of all ages in different countries around the world. Like all new projects, there were some teething problems: the right coach was never quite found; the balance of the team was never quite there; but, just when critics began to accuse the club of perpetuating mediocrity, it finally all came together.
Roma may not be the biggest team in Italy but it may well be the hardest club to work or play for, such are the pressures one experiences in the capital city. The fans are demanding, the scrutiny is unbearable and the media love nothing more than to criticise.
In order to succeed, the Giallorossi had to find a man capable of absorbing the pressure, managing a side that combined veteran egos with inexperienced youth and produce the kind of attacking football that garnered results and appealed to their passionate fan base.
Rudi Garcia is all that and more, but who is he? Cue a thousand videos launched on all media sites of the coach playing the guitar and singing ‘El Porompompero’ in Lille’s dressing room. A football man who enjoys life? What a novel idea.
However, this is perhaps the reason why he and the Giallorossi were a match made in heaven – a positive man with the capacity to ignore endless drama to generate success. Happy to involve the veterans, tactically intelligent and wise enough to not surrender his emotions to media provocations.
Garcia soon won over the players and fans, even the many sceptics who thought he was ill-equipped to improve the sporting project, and immediately set about helping Director Walter Sabatini balance the squad and informed the players of his tactical strategy. He had a vision and a balanced style of play that would not only please the fans but ensure wins. Most importantly, he made his players believe.
Playing 4-3-3, Roma are one of the few sides in Italy that combine control with blistering pace. Each player is deployed in their rightful position, their tasks made abundantly clear. The front three are granted freedom and move around to express themselves, while the midfield is perfectly balanced combining the creativity of Miralem Pjanic, the experience and intelligence of Daniele De Rossi and the strength of either Raja Nainggolan or Kevin Strootman.
Without Mehdi Benatia at the back, they have lost a certain amount of security, but his replacement, Kostas Manolas, possesses speed and vision while the full-backs are renowned for their vast wealth of experience. It’s not all about the starting XI though, as Garcia has a knack of introducing a secret weapon around the hour mark.
Last season, they were the team that boasted, on average, the highest amount of possession and the best passing accuracy in the league while they were the third best at counter-attacking, according to WhoScored.com. They scored 72 goals, collected 85 points and only conceded 25 goals. In short, they were breath-taking, second only to a Juventus side that broke numerous records.
Many would say Garcia was lucky to have arrived at a time when the club had no European fixtures to contend with, leaving him with plenty of time to dominate domestically. As such, it remains to be seen whether the team is capable of recreating their success in Europe considering the heavy schedule. They may well struggle but needless to say, they’re anything but an easy side to defeat.
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