We’re finally here. After yet another summer of massive, massive, massive turnover, Roma are once again on the brink of a new season, one that could just as easily end in elation as it could in exasperation. While Roma run through managers pretty quickly and are always fairly busy on the transfermarket, I’m not sure we’ve ever seen a season with this much change. Monchi bid adieu to two of last season’s stalwarts, Radja Nainggolan and Alisson, while bringing in a cavalcade of intriguing young talent and a couple veterans looking for a new challenge. It was a sweeping effort designed to provide Eusebio Di Francesco with the proper pieces to implement his vision. And whether you agree with it or not, for once Roma are finally giving their manager what he needs.
With more depth at their disposal than at any time since their last Scudetto triumph, the challenge for Eusebio Di Francesco and Roma is finding a rotation that clicks; one that simultaneously provides rest for veterans and ample minutes to grow and develop their growing horde of young twentysomethings. And it all starts tomorrow in Torino.
Torino v. Roma: August 19th, 18:00 CET/12:00 EDT. Stadio Olimpico, Torino.
I can’t predict the future, but chances are EDF’s lineup selections will be the controversy du jour for the first several weeks of the season. That is, unless, this laughable lineup thrown out by ESPN comes to fruition:
If covering Serie A were a regular office job, the folks at ESPN would still be in their probationary period, so we should cut them some slack but the forward two-thirds of that lineup are utter nonsense.
All jokes aside, EDF has a good problem on his hands, but a problem nonetheless. While the backline will likely resemble last year’s until Rick Karsdorp really gets his legs under him, his selections in the midfield and the forward line—to say nothing of his actual formation—is sure to brew controversy.
If I were to venture a guess, I’d say Daniele De Rossi is an unquestioned starter in the seasons first few weeks (I can’t imagine Nzonzi will start week one, given he just arrived) but the two men slotted beside him remain a mystery. Certainly, Javier Pastore provides the creative spark that was missing last season, so one would imagine he’ll get plenty of minutes in the early goings, but what about Kevin Strootman, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Bryan Cristante and Ante Coric?
It’s almost hard to believe, given some of the scrubs we’ve seen over the years, but Roma has seven or eight players who could be legitimate starters on nearly any team in the league, and even for me, a nobody several thousand miles away, trying to figure out who starts and who sits is giving me agita, so I can’t even begin to imagine how EDF will manage this.
And it doesn’t even end there. Upfront he has to suss out Edin Dzeko, Patrik Schick, Justin Kluivert, Cengiz Ünder, Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti. Roma may not have gone whole hog and landed a forty or fifty million dollar superstar, but this is without a doubt the deepest team we’ve ever covered at CdT.
Now, while the devil is in the details, you’ve no doubt noticed that we’re nearly 500 words (‘words’ was actually the 500th hundred word, weird) deep and we haven’t even discussed tomorrow’s opponent, Torino. Roma have a tendency to overlook opponents, and given all the internal questions, it would be easy to imagine them underestimating the Toros, but can you imagine a worse way to start the season than dropping points here?
Torino may have finished 10th last season, but don’t let that decidedly mediocre finish fool you, this team has some serious bite. With Iago Falque and Andrea Belotti leading the charge for Walter Mazzarri, supported by the likes of Tomas Rincon and Lorenzo Di Silvestri, Torino are more than capable of defending their home ground.
Point being, Roma, despite their excellent dealings on the market, enter this match (a tough road match, at that) with a lot of uncertainty facing a team that has the continuity advantage. If ever there were a trap match to open a season, surely this is it.
So, how will this one play out? Will all of Roma’s new faces be too deferential to one another and play to a stilted draw, or will that new talent bust through and make an immediate impact?
The fight for the top four this year will be as intense as we’ve seen in perhaps a decade, and as well all know, the margins between the Champions League and the Europa League are drawn in matches like these.
Even in week one, this is a must win.