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Julian De Martinis On August - 29 - 2011

Italian Serie A 2011-2012 Club Preview: A.S. Roma

Season Preview: Roma

Opening/Recap

To say that Roma disappointed last season would be an understatement, like proclaiming that peanut butter and jelly is a somewhat popular snack amongst children. Claudio Ranieri tried to improve his side from the second place finish of the season prior, but was ultimately sacked amongst a midst of horrible results. The low point included a thrashing in the Champions’ League at the hands of the Shakhtar Donestk and throwing away an astonishing three goal lead against Genoa. Vincenzo Montella took over until the end of the season, but the damage was done and the side could only muster a seventh placed finish. With the Sensi family finally out of control at the club, new president Thomas Di Benedetto is looking to rebuild from scratch- to reinforce an aging squad whist bringing financial stability to the club.

Key Acquisitions/Key Departures

All acquisitions: Cicinho (Villarreal), Okaka (Bari), Curci e Guberti (Sampdoria), Sini (Lecce), Crescenzi(Crotone), Pettinari (Crotone), José Angel (Sporting Gijon), Nego (Nantes), Bojan (Barcellona),Lamela (River Plate), Heinze (Marsiglia), Stekelenburg (Ajax), Osvaldo (Espanyol), Kjaer (Wolfsburg)
All Departures: Mexes (Milan), Castellini (Sampdoria), G. Burdisso (Arsenal Sarandì), Loria, Riise(Fulham), Guberti (Torino), Pettinari (Crotone), Doni (Liverpool), Menez (Paris Saint Germain), Julio Sergio (Lecce), Vucinic (Roma), Crescenzi, Sini e Stoian (Bari), Bertolacci (Lecce).

For the first time in a very long time, Roma have thrown out the blueprint completely. Luis Enrique and Walter Sabatini have decided on a new team comprised of mostly new players for the new coach and the new president. It’s a massive gamble, the likes of which have not been seen in Serie A for quite some time.

Besides recalling a few youngsters from loan, this has been the most active transfer window in years for the side. Maarten Stekelenburg has been drafted in to fix the side’s biggest problem, the lack of a solid goalkeeper. Gabriele Heinze and Simone Kjaer also look to shore up an awful defense, though the latter is on loan for the season with an option to buy at its conclusion. Jose Angel rounds out the defensive reinforcements thus far this summer, whilst the attack has been overhauled with youth as well in the likes of promising trequartista Erik Lamela and Bojan Krkic. Two more midfield signings have been promised, with the name most often linked being Real Madrid’s Gago. Sabatini has confirmed and interest in Inter fullback Davide Santon as well.

The side’s departures have been nothing short of astonishing. Phillipe Mexes departed to Milan on a free transfer after his contract expired, whereas fellow starters Jeremy Menez and Mirko Vucinic were cashed in on as well. Both of the latter had well-documented issues with the club. John Arne Riise and Alexander Doni bring the total number of departing starters from last season to five. Roma have also loaned out a few youngsters with Bari seeming a favorite destination.

Needs
More than anything else, time. With a revolution as complete as the one Roma have undertaken, Luis Enrique will need patience from the tifosi and his players before seeing results. Furthermore the side have switched formations as well to a more attack minded 4-3-3, meaning that even the remaining established stars must take time to learn their new roles. In terms of acquisitions, the side could do with reinforcing the other fullback flank, but if Santon and two more midfielders arrive, the pieces seem to be in place- on paper anyway.

Player To Watch

Francesco Totti will be more important than ever in getting fans to warm to Luis Enrique, but Maarten Stekeleburg could be the signing of the season. Both Doni and Julio Sergio before him failed to claim the number one spot with any kind of long term consistency, and both cost Roma points in the past few seasons. The Dutch international is the first world class keeper that the capital side have had in years, and he will be needed to keep the side in games especially before the defense can fully assimilate.

What to Expect/Prediction

A total gamble. The mercato is yet to be completed for Roma according to their sporting director himself, but even with an addition few players, it is nearly impossible to predict how well the team will form. If Luis Enrique is given enough time, the side could form an attacking threat that could face any team in Serie A, with a defense that looks stable enough to stop most challenges. However, the elimination from the Europa League already has some fans in arms and such patience may be hard to come by. Either way, Roma will be one of the most interesting clubs on the peninsula this season.

Julian De Martinis

Calcio, Azzurri, and Roma tifosi. Blogger, correspondent, podcast host (@LaMagicast). Lover of books, movies, wordplay, family, and a good cappuccino.

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