Italian giants Roma have in recent years taken a back seat in the Serie A and haven’t finished in the top four since 2010. The three times champions haven’t won the league since 2001 and were looking like they were turning into a mid-table team considering their 6th and 7th place finishes in recent years.
This led to changes in the managerial role and in June 2013 they announced that they had hired Rudi Garcia from Lille. Garcia previously managed Le Mans, Dijon, Saint Etienne and Lille before his move Roma. Garcia came in with a plan to change the way in which Roma play completely and also brought in a few shrewd signings to bolster the squad. In the summer transfer window they brought in first team reinforcements in the shape of Gervinho, Maicon Kevin Strootman and Adem Ljajic.
Even though football fans could see that Roma were making progress with their new managerial appointment and their signings, no one could have predicted the magnificent run of form they were about to have this season. Roma began their season with an outstanding ten-game winning streak which put them in contention for the title. They also recorded impressive victories over Inter Milan and Fiorentina and dominated in a 2-0 win against AC Milan last Friday night, where Pjanic scored a wonder goal to put them in front.
Roma have won 26 of their games, drawn 7 and have only been defeated twice while they are unbeaten at home all season in the Serie A. They have also scored 71 goals so they have a better goal difference than Serie A leaders Juventus by two goals. Their impressive form this season has been massively assisted by their complete turnaround in the way they play compared to the last few seasons.
This season, Roma have adapted an exciting style of play under Garcia where they are much more attacking and ruthless in front of goal while it hasn’t cost them too much defensively as they have only conceded 19 goals this season. All of this has contributed to the fact that Roma have massively improved their points tally from last season which was 62 as they already have 85 this season which is an all-time record points haul for the club.
This impressive run by Roma and Garcia has made the Serie A title chase a two horse race as Juventus and Roma are the only two teams that can possibly win the title. Juventus are currently favourites to win their third successive title, but Roma are only five points behind them and the two teams have to face each other again before the end of the season. Rudi Garcia has turned to mind games to try and put Juventus off for their remaining fixtures as the Roma boss has publicly called upon the teams that Juventus have yet to face to turn up and do Roma a favour. Garcia has also been playing mind games with the Juventus boss by stating,
“Our fate is not in our hands at the moment though everything seems to be going well for us, to me Conte seems nervous”.
Juventus boss Conte has rubbished Garcia’s claim that he is nervous and claims that Garcia is speaking “bar talk”i. This war of words between Garcia and Conte is heating up the title chase while also creating hype around the Roma v Juventus fixture on May 9th. It is still possible for Roma to win the title if Juventus drop points in their remaining fixtures, and Roma go on to defeat Juventus at home in the Stadio Olimpico although it would mean that Roma would have to win their remaining three fixtures so Juventus are still strong favourites.
This successful first season for Rudi Garcia at Roma has not gone unnoticed as he has been linked to make a switch to many big European clubs in the summer, but has claimed that he is only interested in preparing for next season. Garcia responded to the rumours by stating,
“I have already told the club what I think. I don’t care about rumours involving PSG and other teams. I don’t set particular conditions but I say that next year we will play in the Champions League and we must be ready.”
Sky Italia have been reporting that Roma and Garcia are already in advanced talks regarding a contract extension for Garcia, which would be a great step for Roma in continuing this huge progress next season. The prospect of Champions League football, along with a talented manager, would also attract big signings in the summer and Roma star Daniele de Rossi believes Garcia is the one to lead Roma to success.
“Garcia can be a turning point in the history of Roma, I’m not exaggerating, he can help us to win”.
Sarah Fitzpatrick, Pundit Arena