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Wednesday September 19 2018
Roma rout out of the way

Nobody expected Roma to get anything from the Bernabeu and evidently that included the Giallorossi players, writes Giancarlo Rinaldi.

If we thought the gap might have narrowed on the reigning champions of Europe after losing one of the world’s best players, there was no sign of it here. While Cristiano Ronaldo might have been having a tough night - at a personal level anyway - with his new club, his old employers had no such troubles. They dismissed Roma with an effortless ease that suggested any rumours of their demise may have been greatly exaggerated.

Fans of Serie A could only watch and wonder what might have been if there had been any truth to those Luka Modric rumours this summer. Perhaps then, we could dream, the balance of power might have swung back in Italy’s favour. Instead, he delivered another beautifully crafted slap in the face to any such delusions.

If the Spaniards were smooth, the Giallorossi looked stilted. The great performances of last season in this competition seemed distant memories as Eusebio Di Francesco’s side tiptoed through the tie with trepidation. It was almost as if they knew - like the rest of us - that they would have to gather their points elsewhere in this group.

There is no shame, of course, in losing an away tie to one of the continent’s finest sides. It was more the manner of the defeat that was of concern. There was a bit of character lacking in this display - Daniele De Rossi and Robin Olsen excepted - that has to be a worry. Real Madrid are a team that do give you chances, but Roma rarely looked like taking them. A few months ago, you feel, they might have snapped up a couple of those opportunities.

Any side would take time to adapt to the loss of players like Radja Nainggolan, Kevin Strootman and Alisson in the summer. That’s more than £100m of talent right there and it has showed so far this term. The capital club are just conceding too many goals and, as their skipper admitted, they have lost a bit of their “sting”. They will need to find it soon on all fronts.

Those seeking a positive note from the outcome in the Bernabeu will probably look at the rest of their Champions League group. They have got their toughest trip out of the way on day one with the more manageable Viktoria Plzen and CSKA Moscow to come. Qualification was far from compromised in Spain, despite it feeling like a pretty miserable night by the time the final whistle blew.

It will take time for this Roma side to find its feet, but the early impression is that it might be a couple of steps down from the team of last year. The base is there to do better, but perhaps expectations will have to be scaled down a little.

There is a league campaign to be sorted out alongside the demands of the Champions League. The bad news is that nobody is going to give them any helping hands to get their house in order. But the good news is they won’t have to make away trips to many teams like Real Madrid again.

Have your say...
So they sold Nainggolan.. OK, Alisson, OK, but why sell Strootman? He brought balance and physicality to the team, would've been excellent for a game like this where the midfield was expected to be overrun, add his loyalty and love for the club, and they let him go for how much? I don't care how much he's worth for buyers, in my opinion, he was priceless for Roma, a selling club with very few players willing to resist big offers and I see most of them being forced out in the Monchi era.
on the 22nd September, 2018 at 4:39am
The damage done by their transfer plan was obvious against Madrid.

The strength/heart of the team was the midfield, but instead of building on that by reinforcing the defense or finally getting a ready to start right winger the heart of the team was destroyed and replace by players clearly not at the same level.

Every player brought in by Monchi stood out like a sore thumb against Madrid, with Olsen being the only saving grace with numerous saves. Everyone else clearly a step below.
on the 20th September, 2018 at 4:04pm
All Italian clubs playing champion's league are talked about here, except for Napoli.
Football Italia, has obviously no regards for Napoli it considers it as being irrelevant, just like in the 1990's when FI started on Channel4, they were the televised copy of Gazzetta dello Juventus.
on the 20th September, 2018 at 10:32am
The transfers Pallotta wants to fund his planned Roma property empire/new stadium have taken the team back at least two seasons. The spine has gone, all the cover for defence and drive going forward missing, replaced by players who need time or are not that sort of player. Alisson and Nainggolan would have been enough but to sell Strootman too is false economy. Need this season to reboot, and unfortunately poor old EDF will probably be blamed.
on the 20th September, 2018 at 7:58am
Why did Zaniolo start ? Its good to play youth but he hasn't played a minute at the professional level and his debut is in the Champions league against Real Madrid ?
on the 20th September, 2018 at 3:55am

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