But hey, what a game it was against Viola. A win is always nice to start the competition and Lazio and Inter immediately lost points while Juve and Napoli didn’t convince as much as Roma did. The Giallorossi, after all, had the more difficult fixture. And everybody’s second favorite Belgian in Church (hmmm, who could number one be?) scored AND gave an assist. But as we know, we’re already back to a Roma-less week, due to the Euro 2016 qualifiers. A perfect time to review the Summer mercato. Which was hot, very hot by Roma’s standards.
To start: mes excuses for the longer than usual absence, but I went on holiday to Mallorca last week (food, booze, Latin music, girls, you know the ‘drill’, ahem). When I came back, it seemed like an appropiate time to assess Sabatini’s work. Because just like Paris Hilton’s acting career, The Beatles, Perrotta’s midfield runs, the secret relationship between Dhaw and Bender, Cameron Diaz’ legs, Rihanna’s self-esteem and my virginity in Mallorca, everything ends someday. Even silly season. An overlook.
Not much to see here, the same usual suspects as last season. Batman showed no sign of declining and proved his worth yet again against the Viola. Mix that with another proven keeper like Lobont and the promising Skorupski and this department is set until at least Summer 2015. Let’s go on to the defend…. No wait! Actually, someone has returned to Roma. Buffon 2.0, the mighty Gianluca Curci. 29 by now and back from his spell at Bologna (37 games). Surprisingly, Curci made the list for the CL (Lobont got excluded) to increase the number of homegrown players. Smart? Yes. A sign of respect to Curci? Not really. And so Curci goes from a relegated Bologna side to a Cl-group consisting of City, Bayern and CSKA. That move alone brightens my (and probably his) day. Because deep inside you know, Gianluca can still turn into the next Buffon/Zoff/Toldo/embodiment of the Great Wall of China. Maybe now more than ever (think about that… but not too long, it hurts my brain as well).
Obviously the department which got the biggest overhaul. Benatia, Romagnoli, Jedvaj, Toloi, Dodo out. Six (!) new players were bought. Manolas was the closest thing Roma could find as a good Benatia replacement while Cole, Holebas provide some much needed LB-cover. Garcia asked for Mbiwa (Ligue 1 lovers probably) while Astori (an Italian international FYI) is Roma’s best 3rd CB since a long time. Since 2013-2014 to be exact (I love you Burdisso). Urby’s there to vill the voids but he can also play in midfield, wing and the banjo. Seriously, this squad has gone from ‘where are our LB’s?’ to ‘we have four LB’s’ in one mercato. One is a corpse, one is not Roma material and the other two are unproven in Serie A but hey, I dig the numbers, 4 > 1. The loss of Benatia was huge but at least there are enough bodies to survive this season while Romagnoli and Jedvaj earn some valuable experience elsewhere. Also, Roma’s defence dances the sirtaki from now on (and no more Brazilian salsa), with three Greek internationals on its books. Yamas!
Arguably Roma’s best department. You name it, Roma’s got it. Technique and flair? Check. Lumberjacks? Check. Box-to-box? Check again. Strength and physique? Check check check. Experience (30+) and youth (-23)? Infinite check. Lickeable homegrown players? Booyah check! I have no complaints about this section. At all. Well, maybe a Paredes loan but it is smart to wait until January. Roma plays a ton more games in the first part of the season so we could still use Leandro. Pjanic stayed and the additions of Keita and Ucan prove to be a hit while we all look out for the return of the Washing Machine, Kevin. Luxury at its best. An example? Nainggolan, who was MOTM against Fiorentina, is actually a sub while Keita, a man who has won more than 15 prices in his career, was on the bench. Not that long ago those names were Greco, Simplicio and Marquinho. This section can take a few hits (injuries, suspensions) for sure.
Aka Totti and the rest. But damn, what a sexy ‘rest’ it turns out to be: Gervinho and Iturbe provide speed and infiltrations on the flanks while Destro and Borriello occupy the role of sexy strikers. And I even forgot Adem ‘Nutella’ Ljajic and Barça-phenomenon Sanabria. Luxury, again. Tricky point is to keep everybody happy and Borriello as far away from his colleagues' WAGs as possible. Not a small feat but it’s doable, there are a lot of minutes up for grabs between the Coppa, CL and Serie A. Garcia will have a lot of tinkering to do the next couple of weeks and months. Someone call Ranieri for advice.
Well done Sabatini, very well done. Here, have a smoke and a pancake. Roma’s attack and midfield look stacked and ready for a repeat of the 2013-2014 campaign. Let’s hope Batman stays healthy and the sale of Benatia won’t come back to bite us in the ass. If Garcia can keep his defence concentrated, focused and avoid clusterfucks, I don’t see a reason to dream a little bigger than last season, even though I predicted otherwise in the questionnaire of last weekend. Maybe I underestimated this team. Please prove me wrong, Roma.
Ps: Next time I’ll dig deeper into the CL draw but time management made it impossible for me to include anything CL-related right now.