Roman Revolution?

After ten games in Serie A, its still hard to see just where Roma are going to end up. In the summer owner Thomas DiBenedetto and director of football Walter Sabatini started a new project in the Italian capital and brought in a whole host of new faces, shipped out some dead wood and recruited Spaniard Luis Enrique as head coach. Now with Enrique coming from the Barcelona B team and bringing with him the philosophies as well as hot prospect Bojan from the Catalan club the comparisons with the European Champions were always going to come.

The thing about the Barcelona project is, it never arrived over night. The style and philosophy started in the early 90s with Johann Cruyff. Over time it’s developed and now in the last few years Pep Guardiola has seen all the time and hard-work come together and peak with this golden generation.

So to expect Roma to settle into this new regime and system straight away would be unfair to Enrique and his squad. Their record in ten games has been won four, lost four and drew two. That sees them occupy a mid table spot.

Tactically they set out like Barca with a diamond four in the middle of the park and usually two up front, a bit more orthodox than the Catalan side although in fairness the Romans don’t have Messi. Although against Novara they played with Miralem Pjanic just off Pablo Osvaldo. But they never broke through until Bojan came on as a second striker. the young Spanish forward put away a poachers finish after a clever reverse lob over the top by Pjanic. A goal that was right out of the Xavi and Messi goal manual.

To be honest the Roman outfit have looked far from convincing. It took them six competitive games to record their first win. That meant they were out of Europe after the first attempt. A main problem for Luis Enrique is finding form and more importantly consistency. No player has played in every game this season. In defence they have struggled to find the right balance, Taddei at full back has never worked out and Marco Cassetti playing at centre back has your heart in your mouth as he lives on the edge for 90 minutes. Obviously injuries play a part but still the defence looks weak, and the older players look like a liability. What they really need is a settled back four with an in-form and injury free Simon Kjaer  and Nicolas Burdisso playing in front of Marten Stekelenburg, who looks to have recovered well from injury. Then have Jose Angel at left back and either Cicinho when fit again or Cassetti in at right back. Chopping and changing the back line every week is never good and will usually see a side concede goals.

In midfield the strongest option for me would be to have Fernando Gago as the holding player with Daniele Di Rossi and either Simone Perrotta or David Pizarro in the middle of the park. Three out of those four together in most games will add a balance and work ethic to the team. Give them a solid foundation to work from and the ability to chase the ball, win it and keep it. Now they have two youngsters in this squad ideal for the play making role behind the front two. Erik Lamela 19, and Pjanic 21. Both are not afraid of the ball and want to make killer passes to the strikers. The are at an age were Enrique can just pick and choose between them on a week to week basis and at this moment I would say that the Bosnian International Pjanic would edge it in the bigger games. You can try playing both but at this stage if the squad is healthy I would suggest that they play one and don’t unbalance the side.

For these two to truly flourish, I have to say that ‘El Capitano’ Francesco Totti has to start on the bench more often than not. As a striker he comes far too deep to receive the ball. This means he treads on toes and he takes the ball away from the playmakers. If you were a youngster at 21 or 19 are you going to have the balls to say ‘fuck off’ to 35 year old Italian legend who has won it all? No you are going to go into your shell and then under-preform. Like Alessandro Del Piero at Juventus, Totti needs to learn his place is on the bench this season as a cameo figure for his beloved Roma who look to start a new era.

In attack Roma seem to be at their strongest. Osvaldo has made the transition from La Liga to Serie A look easy, even if there were initial concerns. He is a powerful centre forward who can win and place a header, look at his goal against Parma. He is a penalty box predator who comes alive in the box and powers his way through to tap-ins and he also has a decent touch. Bojan seems to be the ideal partner for him, both coming form La Liga and the Spaniard should work well off him. Unfortunately the youngster has never reached the potential he showed as a 17 year old that looked to be the next scoring sensation. Under Enrique away from the Camp Nou he might just settle down but he needs games and goals. He does have two in his has two but they have came from him coming off the bench. The goal against Novara, especially, should give him lots of confidence as his arrival changed the game. He can make very intelligent runs and needs to trust himself more in my opinion. If Bojan isn’t preforming then they have Fabio Borrini in their to replace him. Quick and another foil for Osvaldo, Fabio too needs to add consistency to his game. With Osvaldo starting so well Marco Borriello has found game time limiting but a useful player to have ready and waiting although maybe not always loved by the Roman faithful. So they have two strong direct frontmen and two smaller faster attackers and then their is the maestro. If all else fails or you need the crowd behind you or you need that something special you still have El Capitano for the big games.

So its just the start for this new Roma and after ten games their isn’t anything to be really worried about as long as the fans know patience is needed. The defence would be a concern but injuries need to settle down and with so many new faces in, it means that the squad still needs to gel. They are finding their feet slowly but surely. The derby defeat will have been a bitter pill to swallow and the football hasn’t lived up to some peoples unfair Barcelona expectations but we have seen positives. They have never been well and truly beaten, they have only lost games by the odd goal. They are closer to the Champions League spots than they are to the relegation zone. The squad also has a good blend of younger and experienced players. Its been a decent start to a new era and in a league like Serie A thats all you can ask for, every young project needs time as much as anything else.

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