By Scot Munroe
Could of this been the season for Roma to finally challenge Juventus for the league title and give them a run for their money. But in the last couple of months, things have changed in the capital and the club on the pitch has gone two steps back.
Roma are going through a sixteen game unbeaten streak which stems from November 1st after an away defeat to Napoli. In any other circumstance this would be challenging Juventus for top spot but Roma are drawing most of these games. Eight out of the least nine league games after ending in a draw and only two league victories in 2015 away at Udinese and Cagliari. The only ray of light in the poor run of form is the participant in the Europa league where Roma advanced to the last 16 after a fantastic away performance in Rotterdam in the cauldron of the De Kuip which was stopped after a Banana was chucked on the pitch in the direction of attacker Gervinho and after Feyenoord was reduced to ten men.
When watching Roma this season it seems that the players are taking one step forward and two steps back in their play. Ever since the Bayern Munich and Juventus games back in October the players are playing with fear and within themselves. One of the main reason behind this is the tactics that Rudi Garcia portrayed in both of those games. He tried to play both teams at his own game with a controlled counter attacking game with the false striker Francesco Totti playing deep and playing wide balls to the wide strikers and bring in the runners from midfield. But in both games Garcia was tactically outclassed by both Max Allegri and Pep Guardiola. Now ever since Rudi Garcia has been a shadow of the coach we have seen from last season and we have seen fans of social media question him as a coach for Roma for the future.
Two main problems I have seen this season is the stubbornness to change formation and go to a plan B. Last season the 4-3-3 formation worked wonders and it was a joy to watch. The tempo in Roma play was quick, snappy and with a purpose in attack. But this season the tempo is slow and ponderous and teams have figured out how to play Roma. Teams coming to Stadio Olimpico have defended deep and high on the pitch in number causing Roma play to be congested in the centre and to be broken down. This has caused frustration in players and with the fans who have vented their frustration with banners at Trigora and the players were invited under the Curva Sud after the defeat at home to Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia. There has been no idea for a plan b where it has been screaming for it in the last month or two. The team are only playing well in patches and are falling further and further behind Juventus in the title race and have Napoli and Lazio now gunning for second place.
The second problem is the over-reliant on the elder players in the starting XI and the lack of youth players brought in to the starting XI. Players like Leandro Paredes and Salih Ucan were brought in over the summer to add competition to the midfield and add a different balance to the side and they have hardly had a chance to prove themselves in the starting XI. Poor old Salih Ucan has only featured once for the club and has relegated to the youth team at one point this season. Garcia has been over relient on the elder players in Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi who are both ageing and struggling to find their form of past glory. Totti who turned 38 in September has been hit and miss for the season and has only found form in flashes and has forced the club to sell Mattia Destro on loan to AC Milan due to lack of game time and now Seydou Doumbia was brought in and he has struggled to fit in after joining in January transfer window. Daniele De Rossi drop of form is worrying as he has fallen out with coaches in the past with Luis Enrique who dropped him for one game back in 2012 away at Atalanta where Roma lost 4-1 and during Zdenek Zeman second time at the club who was going for young players and didn’t see De Rossi fit in his style of play. De Rossi who was a couple of season ago on the radar of Premier League club which were both of the Manchester club who were willing to offer big money but offers were rejected. The Italian midfielder is now the highest paid player at Roma and in Serie A on a reported £6.5m a year which is a problem for Roma who maybe in the future could try to offload the player on reduce teams. In recent games De Rossi is starting to show his age as he has looked slow and ponderous and off the pace in the game and was seen tiring after ten minutes against Juventus.
There is no question in denying on what Rudi Garcia has brought to the table at Roma over the period of time he has been at the club. Last season he was a breath of fresh air bringing in new ideas at the club with the style of play. But this season there have been flaws in his style of tactics and play and with his team selections is he helping out the club or himself for the future.