Roma’s lauded and highly praised social media team vaulted further in front of the pack today by becoming the first club to ever live stream a match via Twitter. Granted, it was a July friendly over Serie D side Latina and not the semi-finals of the Champions League, but it was nevertheless an exciting development for the future of sports broadcasting.
And yeah, that was pretty much the highlight of the day; Roma, as they should have, waxed their inferior opponent, putting the match beyond all doubt before most fans had even found their seats. However, early summer tuneups are more about experimenting with lineups and combinations and less about results, so whether it was 9-0 or 9-9, the true merit of this match was the tinkering, though one has to wonder what the Latina manager thought of his sides’ performance—is losing by nine a good results given the gulf in talent? Was he gunning for maybe a five or six goal loss?
We may never know, but we do know one thing for sure: Eusebio Di Francesco saw some interesting things and some worrying things in his side today.
Speaking to the press after the match, EDF covered a number of topics as he analyzed the first step in what we all hope will be a successful 2018-2019 season.
I saw some interesting things and areas where we have to improve, but that’s natural at the start of pre-season...We tried to score goals, to make vertical passes, to move the ball around and find our path to the goal the way I asked. That’s what we have been working on a lot over the last few days. Having so many players in the squad at this stage certainly allows me to work better in training, but the moment is coming where we have to make important choices.
Those “important choices” are obviously who starts and who sits. Part and parcel of Monchi’s busy June is that it leaves EDF with some tough decisions to make, particularly in the midfield, which can conceivably run six-deep, while the rotation of Cengiz Ünder, Stephan El Shaarawy, Justin Kluivert and Diego Perotti out wide is sure to cause controversy.
But that’s nothing new, Di Francesco faced a lot of scrutiny in those areas seemingly every week last season, but there was one area and one player he could pencil in every week without losing much sleep: Edin Dzeko at centre forward.
However, if you’ve seen any of the training pictures over the past week or so, you no doubt noticed Patrik Schick showed up quite...uh, what do the gym bros say now, swole?...either way, it looks as though Roma’s €42 million man showed up to play this year.
On Schick, EDF was quick with praise:
He missed practically all of pre-season training last year, so didn’t have the time to settle in or find his best form. He seems hungry and determined with the quality to move anywhere across the front line.
Lost amid all the schadenfreude we hurled at Juventus last year for missing out on Schick was the simple fact that he was suffering from a heart problem, albeit a temporary one but a heart problem nonetheless, so one can only imagine how scattered he was when he was finally cleared to play. Schick has had an entire spring/summer to prepare himself mentally and physically, preparations that might make Dzeko’s seat just a bit hotter.
From there, Di Francesco spoke about a couple of the new guys:
Kluivert can play on the right or the left. At this moment, I have more right-footed players, so I am testing out different alternatives.
Marcano interpreted the defensive movements well and he already speaks good Italian, he’s a hard worker. Bryan Cristante is valuable not just in terms of technique, but also with his physicality. He has to co-ordinate his attacking movements with the others.
We’ve known for a while that EDF prefers tactically intelligent and flexible players, and in Kluivert, Marcano and Cristante he seems to have found ideal apostles for his footballing philosophy.
We’ll have to wait nearly a week before Roma’s next friendly, as they’ll take on Avellino on the 20th. Will we see more new faces prior to then?