Before some of you are already gathering at the town’s square, raising pitchforks and holding banners with ‘Don’t Stop Believing, Journey’ or ‘Keep The Faith, Bon Jovi’, this is just mostly an assumption and a cautious prediction. It’s a quick recap of the first few games of this new season. I know Roma’s already one game behind and therefore their place in the standings doesn’t do them justice. A lot can still change, but as the saying goes: "A good beginning is half the battle won."
Nonetheless, I already see some worrisome and unnerving trends unfolding before my very eyes.
First up: Rain. Damn you, Weather Gods! Each and every season, Roma seems to fight against the powers of nature and 2017-2018 is no different. Now the gap with the top 3 looks even bigger but it’s always nice to know we’ve got a game in hand. Plus, Roma and wet pitches never are a successful combo as they can’t play their favorite game and are obliged to play ugly kick and rush football, or play long balls to the forward and hope one of them lands in a decent spot. So yeah, not THAT bad after all.
The other trends do look worse.
Juventus. The loss of Bonucci hasn’t really affected them while their attack seems even more dangerous than in previous seasons. 10 goals in 3 games, currently the best attack of the league and an unchained Dybala. It’s true they only played against smaller teams but as we all know by now, it’s those games that ultimately decide the title race. Juve can easily afford to lose a game in Milan or Rome, if they can win the 30 other ones. Only the CL can interfere their Scudetto hunt, but their squad seems big enough to handle both competitions. For example, against Chievo: Dybala, Bernardeschi and Buffon were on the bench while Chiellini, Khedira and Marchisio missed the game. Things remain the same since 2012: Juve are the ones to beat this season.
Inter. We’ve already witnessed Spalletti’s magic this season as Inter defeated Roma at the Olimpico a couple of weeks ago. They also easily beat Fiorentina on matchday 1. To make it worse, Spalletti seems to get the best out of Icardi as the Argentine already has scored five goals, the same tally as Dybala. Both men look set to fight for the Capocannoniere crown until May. Inter didn’t really shock the Summer mercato with their signings, unlike Milan or Roma with Schick, but their additions were smart and tailor-made for Spalletti’s tactics. Skriniar, Borja, Vecino and Dalbert... Luciano can transform players into world beaters. He did just the same at Roma and now Inter are enjoying their honeymoon period under Luciano. But for how long? Their start is the best one since long so maybe they can go all the way and clinch their first title since 2010. A big advantage: They don’t have European midweek games and can fully focus on Serie A. Ow, and did I already mention Perisic’ performances lately? Scary.
Napoli. Well, that isn’t a surprise. They ended 2016-2017 on a high note and continue their impressive run. Mertens still knows how to score a goal or two and their entire team just clicks. Sarri made a machine. 9 goals in 3 games is a damn fine average. No real big names have crossed their path just yet, but on their day they can beat any team in Italy with ease. Just like Juve, they have drawn a tough group in the CL so let’s see if they can keep this up all they way to December. Their squad isn’t as deep as Juve or Milan.
Lazio. Ok, maybe less impressive than Juve or Inter, but surprising nonetheless. The 4-1 win against Milan was a statement. Juve have Dybala, Inter have Icardi and Lazio have Immobile. 4 goals in 3 games for the reborn Italian. Their first game of the season was a hick-up it seems. A 0-0 draw at home against SPAL, a team which seems tougher than we all think and no pushovers. Perhaps the Laziale underestimated the newcomer, Inzaghi will make sure that won’t happen again. Fact is, Lazio have now beaten both Juve and Milan in the space of one month, so I must insert them in this list. This season the derbies are gonna be quite interesting.
Torino. Can be the surprise package of the season IMO. Just look at their line-up last weekend: Sirigu, Rincon, Molinaro, Baselli, Falque, Ljajic, Niang, Belotti. They seem a sturdy side who can trouble most of the big teams and currently have the best defense in the league together with Juve. Roma’s fixtures against Torino won’t be pretty, I can tell you that.
Injuries. Patrick Schick. Seriously, how typical Roma when your biggest and most hyped transfer of the Summer is already out with an injury after a week of training. I pray everyone remains healthy from now on but I’m afraid we’ll see more injury updates later on. It’s simply the Roman way.
So yeah, Serie A is finally in full swing and AS Roma, although with a game in hand, already is trailing 6 points behind the other Scudetto contenders. All the favorites have started out well, so Roma can’t risk to fall behind too much or their season could be doomed before October.
However, let’ not waste too much words on that topic for now, as there is a new challenge ahead for the Giallorossi. Atletico Madrid visit Rome tomorrow, as the Champions League is officially back in town! A good result can make us forget about Serie A for at least a couple of days.