Rudi Garcia joined Roma two seasons ago, an unknown to Serie A and Italy, he impressed the his competitors by guiding Roma back to Champions League football after finishing second in the league. Last season, the Romans started it all again and ended up in the same spot proving that Garcia’s first attempt was not a fluke. “At the top of our own league.” That’s how Roma’s French manager phrased it. Indeed, the club did not have the capacity to challenge Max Allegri’s side who made it all the way to the Champions League final. Today however, his third season starts and he has to deliver beyond the second spot especially with new big names on board.
Sporting director Walter Sabatini tried to avoid the mistakes of the past by signing big names on loan rather than spend loads of money on outright purchases. Wojciech Szczęsny arrived from Arsenal after the Gunners opted to sign Petr Cech. Defensively, Roma gave up their youth squad graduate Alessio Romagnoli for an excessive fee of €30 million. The lack of home grown players in Serie A forced Milan to spend plenty on the talented defender. Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Jose Holebas also left the club to Lyon and Watford respectively. Roma sought Catania’s Norbert Gyömbér and German international Antonio Rudiger from Stuttgart. In the middle of the park, the club seem to be stable as they signed Nainngolan permanently and let go of yet another youth product to Milan, Andrea Bertolacci, albeit for a significant fee.
Iago Falque, Mohamed Salah and Edin Džeko is the trio that could propel Roma to rival Juventus. Džeko is a proven winner, he won Bundesliga and Premier League titles at Wolfsburg and Manchester City. In fact, Juventus tried hard to sign him in vain as he preferred a move to England at the time. Now, he’s in Italy and with Roma. The man scored a vital equalizer on the final matchday against QPR before Sergio Aguero scored to hand Roberto Mancini his first and only Premier League title.
The Giallorossi can build around the Bosnian, his international team-mate Miralem Pjanic knew that and convinced him to join. Ideally, Roma play a 4-3-3 which means Edin will be supported by two forwards as he takes up the central role. Totti, Iturbe, Gervinho, Ljajic and new signings Falque and Salah are more than capable to play supporting roles and this is where the Bosnian striker plays his best football. Roma did well defensively last term but lacked a top goal scorer and now they have him. Falque is one of the most accurate crosses around Europe and has been used regularly in pre-season by Rudi Garcia. The Giallorossi are not short of options.
The Bosnian forward is the first international striker Roma have since the days of Gabriel Batistuta. Džeko is used to scoring double figures, his scoring rate in previous seasons is quite remarkable and its unlikely to stop. He resembles the former Argentinian beast in stature and playing style: Powerful in the air, able to finish expertly with both feet, and proficiently capable of playing in a front-two or as a lone striker. Whatever his form may be, he will definitely score more than Roma’s top scorer last season (Francesco Totti, 8 goals).
The days of Fabio Borini, Dani Osvaldo and Mattia Destro should be put behind the club, now they can only think big and aim higher than before particularly with Juventus losing Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez. Roma’s strength remains in the midfield and if they manage to dictate play well, they will not have problems with chance creation, it’s all down to Džeko’s finishing and of course Juventus dropping points. The bianconeri are still the league favorites, the two Milan clubs are stronger than before and Roma’s city rivals Lazio are looking powerful, but can Rudi bring the long awaited Scudetto back to the capital city?