Roma can shrug off Scudetto talk all they like, argues Susy Campanale, but the nest egg of points is getting pretty cosy.
Sceptics keep waiting for the Roma bubble to burst, but at the moment it just keeps on floating to the top. The 3-0 demolition job on Inter was their first genuine test against a side that, like them, have no European commitments to worry about and were feeling confident after a strong start to the season. If this was an exam, then Rudi Garcia and his men passed with flying colours.
This is not the first time that a side has won the opening seven rounds. Juventus, Milan and Inter managed it and in all but one of those seven previous cases ended up taking the title. The only exception was Inter, who finished second in 1966-67. It should also be noted that all but one occurred when it was still two points for a victory, so the advantage from such a strong start was not as clear. Only Juventus had seven straight wins in 2005-06 and that Scudetto was revoked in the Calciopoli scandal.
With 20 goals scored and just one conceded, Garcia is finding a way to meld the attack of Zdenek Zeman with the defence of Fabio Capello. In truth, this team reminds many of Luciano Spalletti’s Roma, particularly with the position of Francesco Totti as an atypical centre-forward giving no reference points. Gervinho doesn’t track back much, so he can focus on bursts of pace to surprise opposition defences, leaving the more defensive work to the tireless Alessandro Florenzi. Kevin Strootman and Miralem Pjanic bring quality as well as steel to a midfield that is run by a revitalised Daniele De Rossi. DDR revealed he had considered quitting Roma when emotions were at an all-time low, but decided against it because he could not bear to think the Coppa Italia Final defeat to Lazio would be his last game.
The truth is that Roma needed that abject humiliation, for they had to reach rock bottom before rising like a phoenix from the flames. Just like Juventus after two seventh-place finishes and failing to qualify for Europe, the Giallorossi are running on hunger, determination and the leadership of a charismatic new Coach. The Old Guard are desperate to prove last season didn’t represent them and newcomers are swept along by the wave of confidence. The lack of European games cannot be underestimated either, as it shows in Roma's work rate, stamina and concentration. When this 100 per cent record does end, will the bubble burst and the old self-doubt reappear? We’ll have to wait and see.
Garcia’s approach is also fresh and entertaining. He even managed to beat master of the counter-attack Walter Mazzarri at his own game. Of course, as Conte is learning at Juventus now, you only have so long before the opposition figures out how to neutralise you. It took them two years to crack the Juve code, so perhaps Roma have time to build up that nest egg of points after all.