Important additions have been made to re-invigorate Roma's squad, Aman Sehdev believes this, together with lessons learned from last term, could see a closer title race than previous years.
Roma enter the 2015-16 season with a mixture of pressure to hold on to the Champions League places, and a sense of quiet optimism centred around a real Scudetto push. The Giallorossi endured a tough second half of 2014-15 which saw them narrowly retain second place. Sporting director Walter Sabatini, aware of his blunders in the January transfer market, has been busy this summer.
The Giallorossi’s resident workhorse Radja Nainggolan was finally secured on a permanent basis from Cagliari. With a stacked midfield which includes the Belgian, Miralem Pjanic, Daniele De Rossi and the returning Kevin Strootman, it gives Coach Rudi Garcia, into his third term at the helm, a quartet of world-class players to boss the midfield.
The astute loan signing of Arsenal ‘keeper Wojciech Szczesny relieves the burden on veteran Morgan De Sanctis. The Polish international brings a wealth of Champions League experience which could see him favoured over the 38-year-old.
Sabatini also worked to deliver Garcia some quality firepower in the final third. Iago Falque and Mohamed Salah join a growing corps of wingers that each offer a dynamic look to the frontline.
A marquee signing has also been delivered in the form of Bosnia striker Edin Dzeko from Manchester City. The new No 9 has the scoring pedigree which could push Roma all the way. It will be intriguing to see how he and soon-to-be-39-year-old Roman gladiator Francesco Totti co-exist in the starting XI, if indeed they can.
How the Lupi fare in the Champions League will be fascinating to watch. Due to rankings it is possible they will draw another tough group. Garcia will be hoping he and his squad learned the lessons from last term’s European beatings and will attempt to avoid embarrassment again. Morale boosting friendly wins over Real Madrid and Valencia this summer serve as reminders the Lupi can mix it on their day.
Garcia is under pressure to get Roma back to a high pressing, attack minded philosophy which typified his excellent debut campaign. The French tactician will need to develop alternative tactical systems to deploy against opponents that frustrate his side, something not accomplished last year.
The club will also hope Douglas Maicon, Leandro Castan and Strootman can return to their best after long term injuries. The trio were integral parts of Roma’s scintillating 2013-14 and their comebacks feel like proverbial new signings.
The Giallorossi, at least inwardly, believe they stand a chance of toppling Juventus, in light of the departure of three key players. Andrea Pirlo, Arturo Vidal and Carlos Tevez are huge losses, so some uncertainty hangs over Turin this term. This doesn’t equate to Roma becoming favourites, but in theory it could reduce the gap.
It promises to be an entertaining season for the capital outfit. They know a renewed challenge from the Milan clubs, as well as Fiorentina, Lazio and Napoli will make things more difficult. However, a fast start, coupled with a win in the Week 2 encounter with Juventus at the Olimpico could have Romanisti dreaming of something big this season.
Despite back-to-back second place finishes, the Frenchman is under pressure to deliver a closer fought title race, whilst fending off the expected resurgence of the Milanese clubs. Garcia will need to evolve his game-plan tactically if he is to right the wrongs of a dire 2015.
The Bosnian playmaker still makes the midfield tick and it will be up to him to provide ammunition for the attacking players. The club will be hoping fitness issues that plagued the 25-year-old last term will be a thing of the past.
A scorer of 85 goals in Germany and 71 in England, the Bosnian provides a proven goal threat for a team lacking a prolific forward. The Giallorossi are getting a bona-fide hitman not seen since the fabled purchase of Gabriel Batistuta 15 years ago. His understanding with compatriot Miralem Pjanic could be key.
De Sanctis; Maicon, Castan, Manolas, Cole; De Rossi, Nainggolan, Pjanic; SALAH, DZEKO, Gervinho
The challenge for second will continue to get tougher. Roma, though, have their sights on another Scudetto push. Juventus' player exodus mean they could be ripe for overtaking. Cautious optimism abounds.
Keep up to date with all the Serie A transfers with Football Italia's summer 2015 transfer table.