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Wednesday May 24 2017
Underestimated Roma

Few appreciate just how difficult it was for Luciano Spalletti to lead Roma into second, insists Edo Dalmonte.

What is so dispiriting about Roma’s Serie A season is that, at least on paper, there is nothing that impressive in being second to Juventus, especially when the Scudetto champions have looked so dominant throughout. Competing with the Old Lady has no margin for error, making any runner-up look like an also-ran.

Even third-placed Napoli (who are a point behind) have gained more plaudits by performing well in the Champions League (where Roma failed to even make the group stages), playing some of the most beautiful football on the continent and reinventing Dries Mertens to replace €90m departure Gonzalo Higuain.

Roma, it seems, can’t get much love, a problem compounded by their ruthless dispatching of club legend Francesco Totti, or their tiff with Coach Luciano Spalletti, who is set to move on to Inter. 

While the future appears to be uncertain, however, we can’t let this colour our judgement of the Giallorossi’s present: for a start, their 84 points (and they can beat their all-time record of 85 if they win their last home game against Genoa) are better than the 82 that Jose Mourinho’s Treble-winners managed in 2010.

What is perhaps so impressive about the Lupa holding onto second place for most of the 2016-2017 exercise is the sheer number of things that have gone wrong, from selling their own big name (Miralem Pjanic) to Juventus, to the numerous injuries in defence -  promising left-back Mario Rui tearing his ACL within minutes of putting pen to paper.

Though many of these issues are of the Giallorossi’s own doing, Rome’s red half has endured, and its success owes to the Certaldo native doing his best with what was essentially the same team as last year.

With most of Roma’s £85m outlay going out on settling their “loan-to-buy” deals (Mohamed Salah, Gerson, Stephan El Shaarawy), Spalletti has rebooted last season’s laughing stock, Edin Dzeko, and reinvented a defence brutally torn apart by injuries to Alessandro Florenzi and Antonio Rudiger.

Hounded by Press and fans alike after an early Champions League exit at the hands of Porto, Spalletti turned things around by resorting to a 3-4-2-1, jettisoning Thomas Vermaelen and resurrecting another career, that of Federico Fazio. Roma’s habit of developing defenders was further evidenced by Emerson Palmieri’s rise on the left to replace Rui.

Even perennial injury risk Kevin Strootman has returned to his dynamic (and diving) ways, helping Radja Nainggolan and a galvanised Daniele De Rossi (another man who is back to his best) play both spectacular football and develop a mean streak - Roma defeating both Milan and Lazio in late 2016 by pressing deep and regaining possession.

While Napoli took a while to get going - still only sixth by Week 14 - the Giallorossi quickly recovered from a rocky start to spend 27 matchdays in second place. While their pursuers (who have a tougher away feature to Sampdoria, and need Roma to draw or lose) have made the most of vintage seasons from Lorenzo Insigne and Jose Callejon, the Lupa has performed despite a few disappointments. Diego Perotti has yet to score in open play, while El Shaarawy has been dogged by inconsistency, as has Leandro Paredes.

 

For a club that is constantly juggling clever buys and is often forced to sell its best, Roma has done just fine this season, instilling a winning culture that would be the envy of many clubs, especially those in Milan…

Keep up to date with the latest news and action from Spain's Primera Division with Football Espana - from the team behind Football Italia.

Have your say...
Romaniac I think you didn't read the article. There's no hate against Roma. Maybe you just misunderstood the first sentence which is rather saying that it's unfair that Roma don't get enough credit for second place, especially because juse were so good. The whole article is saying they were really good despite the problems. The only disagreement with what you'Re saying is about Strootman's diving.
on the 24th May, 2017 at 3:42pm
What is the board supposed to do? Fire Spalletti when Roma has held down 2nd since round 8? It has been the media blowing this up! Roma even extended Totti's contract after he saved our season. What more do you want? Had Roma interfered with Spal's choices with Totti, then they are micro managing. The rest of the article is a fair assessment but this site is getting ridiculous with the Roma hate.
on the 24th May, 2017 at 1:15pm
The hate from an interista is so obvious in this passive aggressive attempt at journalism. And you people call yourselves writers. The guy can't make it through one paragraph without a dig at us. Also, Strootman isn't even known as a diver. Maybe just sour grapes for Medel's penalty on Dzeko. There is nothing impressive in finishing 2nd to Juve because they are great? What logic! Also we are known as il lupi not "Lupa". Roma hasn't been ruthless with dispatching Totti. That is on Spal!...
on the 24th May, 2017 at 1:14pm
"from selling their own big name (Miralem Pjanic) to Juventus, to the numerous injuries in defence - promising left-back Mario Rui tearing his ACL within minutes of putting pen to paper."

So, in total 2 players out, some injuries, and a bundle of players like Dzeko, Perotti, El-Shaarawy, Mohammad "Diver" Salah still present.

Miralem Pjanic hasn't even been phenomenal for Juve, let alone he'd have been colossal for Roma. So why the whining?? And Napoli played well in the UCL?? LMAO, thanks!!
on the 24th May, 2017 at 12:01pm
Of course it is, anonymous number 54325341. While you all complained about fair decisions, we actually know the rules. Only your kind get away with crying about it.
on the 24th May, 2017 at 10:56am
a juve fan complaining about referee decisions the irony is palpable.
on the 24th May, 2017 at 10:21am
"For a club that is constantly juggling clever buys and is often forced to sell its best"

Join the club. Seriously.
And no mention of the generous penalties they got all season of course. It's sweet justice in seeing yet another one given against Lazio and still lose emphatically.

Also:
"[Napoli] performing well in the Champions League"

If you believe that then Serie A is truly in ruin. Forget us winning CL, all Italian teams must step up. See all their respective coefficients.
on the 24th May, 2017 at 9:53am
I admit spaletti has done well this season all things considered but losing to lazio in the coppa and porto so early in the champions league plus the europa league exit was always going to cast a shadow on this campaign. It is also worth noting the lack of Italian players in roma team it is beyond belief to be honest especially with academy producing quality players. in addition this side seems so temporary especially with totti and spaletti leaving time to bring some stability.
on the 24th May, 2017 at 9:24am
If Salah's finishing was better Roma would be champions... I just don't get how he misses so many chances sometimes I am envious they got him instead of us, other times I'm relieved! :D
on the 24th May, 2017 at 9:20am

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