And so, down with Qarabag, the way it was meant to be, with none of the unnecessary drama that usually follows the Roma colours. For this reason and others, this legitimately feels like a different season for ‘romanisti’ everywhere.
The result of the match was a predictable win. The outcome of the group, with Roma topping a heavyweight free-for-all, only a season since they were knocked out by Porto at the playoffs, is an unexpected triumph.
Given the high, this might seem like a strange moment to point out that the Giallorossi are, in fact, performing within reasonable expectations. The team pack a punch, agreed, but this is not quite the same as saying that they punch above their weight.
At the beginning of the season, it was remarked that Roma had traded away strength in their starting XI in favour of increased depth. Having turned into a team with less firepower and more flexibility, they could be expected to improve their results against the smaller teams and see their record deteriorate against the bigger sides.
So far, this is exactly how things turned out, on the domestic and international stage alike. The Lupi won every game they played against those rivals, whose starting XI had a smaller aggregate financial value than their own, with the single exception of a draw against Genoa.
They also lost or drew every game against outfits of greater value, with the single exception of a win against Chelsea – and perhaps one against Milan, although I see no need to explain why the latter don’t count as a 'big team' this season.
The consistency of Roma’s progress suggests that not only their strengths but also their structural weaknesses remain the same. In spite of this, fans and pundits alike seem unable or unwilling to see anything but the former, excited by how 'different' this season feels, and emboldened by results such as this remarkable Champions League qualification.
We have seen this multiple times in 2017-18 already. Prior to the capital side’s 3-1 defeat to Inter, a great deal of their fan base were expecting a win, even though the result made sense in retrospect.
Their solid run of victories against smaller teams in November came to a juddering halt with a 2-0 loss at the hands of Atletico Madrid, and it came as a genuine shock to the circles in the capital, even though this too was fairly predictable.
Now, this Champions League result is bound to fuel another surge of unrealistic enthusiasm, but it’s also destined to deflate when ‘romanisti’ realise their victories so far are consistent with their manifest level and not transcendent of it, and that their vulnerabilities still haven't been redressed.
One of these vulnerabilities lies in the fact that their psychological hold under pressure still hasn't been appropriately tested. This speaks to what has been a chronic problem for Roma in the past, and it’s naive to assume that it just whisked away.
The players must be careful about keeping a clear head going forwards (starting with slap-happy Daniele De Rossi), and the Coach must be especially wary.
We mentioned in our season preview that Coach Eusebio Di Francesco represented Roma's greatest variable. He has performed admirably so far, making full and efficient use of the team's resources, and he deserves all the praise he is receiving.
Make no mistake though, the jury is still out on him. That he has not caved in to the environmental pressure of managing a club as big and as capricious as the Giallorossi is only a reflection of the fact that he hasn't really experienced the said pressure yet.
He will, when – and not if – things stop going his way. So far, he has suffered a handful of setbacks but never any genuine trouble. His team are performing as expected, the dressing room is peaceful and their seasonal objectives all remain within reach.
Things will get rougher in the second half of the season, and then we'll see what he's made of. He knows tactics, that's been demonstrated beyond doubt, although that alone is not enough to lead Roma to success.
Still, these are good times for the Lupi, and topping the group means they now have decent odds of returning to the Champions League quarter-finals for the first time in a decade. And yet what seems really exciting about them are their prospects on the long - and not the short - term.
Counter to the excitable popular mood and despite a Serie A standing that could even improve by February, it remains unrealistic to expect Roma to take home the Scudetto. This was meant to be a transitional campaign, the first step in a new project.
The good news, however, is that the building blocks for said project seem to have been laid wonderfully. The new Coach is delivering, the players are young and valuable, the market strategy looks solid, and even the stadium project is moving forward.
No-one else in Serie A has a future that looks so bright. If you think you're having fun this season, you're in for a serious treat.
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