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Totti Today #98: Winding Back The Years

After the arrivals of JJ, Fazio and most recently Vermaelen, talk has spread in Rome that Spalletti might opt for a defence consisting of three men this season. Interesting, since AS Roma won its last title thanks to a similar approach. Time to dig up some memories!

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Roma now has six centrebacks on its team sheet, including Gyomber. He might join Pescara come September but that still leaves us with 5 capable men for only 2 spots. The difference with past seasons is that we now have a wealth at CB, this time there are no types ala Loria, Zukanovic, Spolli, Andreolli or Guillermo Burdisso.

Manolas and Rüdiger, we all know their qualities. Vermaelen has played for Ajax, Arsenal and (albeit shortly) Barcelona,  won prizes with all three clubs and is a regular for his NT. Juan Jesus has played over 100 games for Inter Milan (and not Chievo, Siena or Catania) and already got called up for the Brazilian Selecao. Our 'obvious' fourth-choice CB, Fazio, won the EL twice with Sevilla. That says something about our roster. All this while our fullback department still looks so-so due to Rui's injury and no meaningful additions. Torosidis or Seck won't exactly set the Champions League alight too.

That's why Spalletti might do a U-turn this season: a 3-5-2/3-4-3. Too many CB's? Problem solved. Too few fullbacks but a lot of wingers? Problem solved. To make it even more interesting: 15 years ago AS Roma won the Scudetto with a similar line-up. Just for the sake of entertainment let's see how the current Roma squad would look and feel like if they were compared to their colleagues from 2001.

Mind you though, I'm not comparing the qualities of players on the same position, just thinking about the type of player and role in the team. The 2001 squad was and remains legendary to this very day. So, first off, which team did Capello field those days?

Antonioli - Zebina Aldair Samuel - Cafu Tomassi Emerson Candela - Totti - Batistuta Montella.

Antonioli = Alisson. The keeper was hardly a world beater back then and it should remain the same this season as well. From what I saw I like Alisson. A tower but also quick reflexes and already confident between the sticks. Woj is gonna have a hard time that's for sure.

Zebina = Rüdiger. I can safely say this might be an upgrade over the original. At only 23 years of age, Antonio has still lots of years in front of him. He would be an ideal fit for that right side, as he also played RB a couple of times in his career.

Aldair = Manolas. The obvious leader of the defence. Nothing more to add about this, Manolas is one of the first names on the paper of the coach.

Samuel = Vermaelen. Perhaps Thomas is more subtle than Walter, but both a prime candidate for the left side. thanks to their excellent positioning. You can't win a personal battle against the Wall, but Vermaelen has other qualities that are surely usefull, for example a great long pass.

Cafu = Florenzi. A right wingback with a lot of personality? Check. Florenzi's a makeshift rightback but at this position he could really thrive as he can bomb the whole flank. Now let's hope Alessandro also plays until he's nearly 40.

Tomassi = De Rossi. Ah, great Italian midfielders with a beard and a passion for all things Roma, unite! The general in midfield.

Emerson = Radja. The ball-winning bulldog. Radja even has a bigger action radius and will also contribute in attack from time to time. A vital piece of this formation.

Candela = Emerson. A bit weird I know, but I'm definitely talking about the Palmieri one now. I can't help but be intrigued by this player. We obviously need a left-footed type, and preferably someone who can dribble or run past his man. Too attack-minded for LB but not really a winger like Salah or Iturbe. Some Brazilian flair is always welcome in Rome, Emerson might be the guy.

Totti = Perotti. As much as I'd love to include Francesco Edition 2016 in this line-up, at the age of 40 he's most likely a sub (albeit an important one). This  position requires a lot of running, movement and dynamics. Perotti's skill set leans most towards a Totti role. Paredes, Gerson or Strootman are also options. Yet, Perotti is a type Spalletti loves and that's his advantage.

Batistuta = Dzeko. Hilarious, I know. A goal machine like Batigol would be 'replaced' by Dzeko, who misses a sitter once every 15 minutes. However, when it comes to physical attributes, they're quite similar. In fact, Dzeko's the only real tower we got up front, excluding Sadiq.

Montella = El Shaarawy. Keen, cutting, smart, speedy, trickster. Not the strongest or biggest forward you can find but works a lot and has an eye for goals.

There you have it: Alisson / Rüdiger Manolas Vermaelen / Florenzi DDR Radja Emerson / Perotti / Dzeko SES. Of course there are some big names missing yet like Salah, Szczęsny, Paredes, Strootman or Gerson but there's gonna be a lot of rotation nonetheless in all three competitions and UEFA says we can only field 11 names.

What's your take on the 3-5-2? Which players would you use?