Believe it or not, ladies and gentlemen, the first three months of this season are done; it seems like it was yesterday when we were saying hello to Di Francesco and his perfectly groomed beard (how does he do that? I need some pointers from him) and now we are more than used to his tactics, rotations, way of handling pressers and his impeccable taste for clothing (the man is class, I’ll give him that).
Here in Chiesa we pay attention to what our readers are saying and we like to be part of the debate, so we now beg the question: How well have we fared so far this season? It was never going to be easy, that has to be said; coming from one of the most seasoned and most capable managers in recent Roma history (you can hate him for his union with Inter, but Spaletti always did well for this club) to one of the most up-and-coming managers, such as Eusebio, things were always going to be a tad difficult–having a new manager always is.
We’ll focus on every competition; right now we only Serie A and Champions League to talk about. We have been great? We have been bad? We have been so bad that the entire club should be destroyed? None of the above? Let’s have a look, shall we?
If we have to use a term to describe Di Francesco’s Roma in the league, this would be the word “reliable”. Now, this isn’t something we can often say of a club that made self-destruction an habit, but you got to give credit to Eusebio and the players, as well: Roma has been getting positive results and doing so without capitulations (excepting that hideous match against Inter where we didn’t have an actual right-back) and looking solid on the defense and clinical upfront. We are not scoring as much as last season, but we exchanged some of those goals for a better defensive structure and still having a deadly touch while attacking.
Sure, Roma are sitting 5th with one pendant match against Sampdoria and five points away from current leaders Napoli, but league competitions are not about speed, but rather resilience. One of Di Francesco’s major triumphs as Roma’s manager so far has been his great rotations and the fact that the team is still getting victories regardless of who’s playing (this is also a big achievement from our players) and this could give the club in the capital a special advantage for the second half of the season: Napoli and Lazio don’t rotate much and they have Europe to cope with; Juventus are not looking as threatening as in recent years and Inter have been getting results more out of grinta than football, resulting in a somewhat unsustainable model during an entire season.
Having said that, Di Francesco’s Achilles heel in the league has been his management of the big games. While we have only played against Napoli and Inter in this regard, the team looked second best against the former and was just holding out against the latter until they gave in. Milan, you say? They have been way below the expectations and a serious Roma was more than enough to beat them. These types of matches can define a league and it’s important that we find a proper way to setup against these rivals.
Conclusion? A position in the league doesn’t really reflect Roma’s solid present and even better future if we are able to sustain the capacity of getting positive results while rotating.
I want to seize this opportunity to say that after the draw where Roma got Atlético de Madrid and Chelsea, I said that this club had a great chance of advancing to the knockout stages of this competition. Sure, I can understand people’s skepticism; after all, this is Roma we’re talking about–I just wanted to point out that I was right (just messing with you; we can all be right or wrong around here). And while Roma hasn’t secured his ticket to the next round, we are in the quite possibly the best scenario.
This group, completed by new guys Qarabag, was never going to be easy for Roma, but we have to give credit to Di Francesco: he has made us enjoy watching Roma in Europe for the first time in ages. Matches like visits to Stamford Bridge or receiving Atlético and Chelsea at the Olimpico were almost guaranteed thrashings for Roma in recent years. After a very shaky draw against Simeone’s team and a somewhat grind-out victory in Azerbaijan against Qarabag, three great results and performances against Chelsea got Roma to top the group and in a pole position to get to the next round.
The key was, obviously, the two Chelsea matches, where Roma played with confidence, with style and with cojones, unafraid of what Antonio Conte’s might do. This was a joy to watch and was also very refreshing to see Roma actually doing the thrashing for once.
Conclusion? Way above people’s expectation.
So, at the end of the day, Roma is sitting in a pretty sweet position as top of its Champions League group and with a lot of chances in the league–the upcoming derby against Lazio could make one hell of a difference, I’ll give you that, though. But considering all the new signings, Salah leaving, Totti retiring and a new manager on board, we can say that things could be much worse and could be on the way to be a lot better, if Roma keeps having this progression.
What grade would you give Roma’s first three months of the season?
This poll is closed
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