A.S.Roma in English

Wolf Culture

Month: August 2015

Roman Leadership: Roma-Juve 30/8/2015

In Roma’s 2-1 win over Juventus on 30/8/2015, we witnessed Roma achieve her first home-win against Juve since 16/2/2013. A far cry from the days when Juve outclassed, and pegged Roma back for 90 minutes, what we saw was a Roma in complete domination; a true Roman decimation.

It was a match filled with intensity from the starting whistle, regardless of the protests in the Curva Sud. Digne’s control down the left side showed that Roma seems to have acquired a prodigy, and his chemistry was immediate. Manolas raged with the soul of a Spartan, calmly dispossessing any initiation from Juve’s top 3. The midfield of Keita, Pjanić, and Nainggolan hesitated with Keita’s dispossession, but Nainggolan proved to be a wall in defense, and an arrow in attack. Miralem’s rainbow free kick was just, oh, the most beautiful; another masterpiece by Giotto. Džeko would not be denied opening his Roma account, in no better fashion, with the goal which won the match. Last but not least, lets not forget Szczesny, who saved the match with just his fingertips from a Bonucci header in the 93′. A class display from the squad.

It was the Romans who showed their imperial leadership, transforming in different roles, leading through the soul of Rome. Capitano futuro futuro, Alessandro Florenzi was asked onceFlorenzi corre ad abbracciare la nonna-2 again to perform outside his comfort zone, being deployed as the rightback. With no room for error, he was fielded against some of the best players in all of calcio. Ale stepped up to the plate once again, proving that even if he is played in unfamiliar territory, his determination, athleticism, and skill can lead him and the team out of dangerous situations and onto success. Juve’s left flank was completely shut down, as Flo’s speed was too much for a Juve banking on the counter. The future captain continues to reiterate his vitalness to an aspiring Roma.

Capitano futuro, Daniele De Rossi also saw himself in generally unfamiliar territory. In place of Leandro Castan, Daniele was deployed at left centerback. Although Daniele has played in the defense for Conte, this role is very different: a centerback in a flatback four is no position easily understood overnight, with entirely different positioning and responsibilities from the sweeper role DDR has featured in for Conte’s hybrid 3/5 man defense. 73 touches, and stable positioning helped bring confidence to the backline. Available to Rudi and Roma, Daniele De Rossi showed a calm and coolness we so desperately needed last night.
DDR2015-08-31 at 9.52.49 AM

But are we forgetting someone? Ah, we are indeed. Francesco Totti needs no introduction from anyone, and unfortunately, his face was missed in last night’s revelation. But it is exactly this attitude which deserves praise: Totti has been the centerpiece of Roma’s attacking design for the past 20 years, yet his attitude from the bench stayed collected, as he knew certain sacrifices needed to be made in order to win this match. It is these sacrifices which embodies his  soul of an emperor. Indeed, Frank will find plenty of time as the season continues on 3 fronts. With his 39th birthday in less than a month, Frank ages with grace, reminiscent of no others in the world of football.

Our line of captains and their willingness to sacrifice for the idea of Rome will lead the wolves to glory.

Exodus Al Fianco

Will there be an exodus of wingers, in just the last couple days of 2015’s summer mercato? It is starting to seem so, or that at least half of the wingers between Adem Ljajić, Juan Iturbe, Victor Ibarbo, and Gervinho will either be sold or loaned. It is a matter of one (or two, or three) too many wingers on the squad and payroll, and a desire for those lower in Garcia’s pecking order find somewhere to do exactly what they are paid for: Playing calcio.

Will it be Adem Ljajić? I sure hope not. Below this article are various reasons on why Nutella Boy shouldn’t be sold, and exactly how he could fit into Garcia’s attack (if he ever planned to adjust anything, ever so slightly).  With Aston Villa wanting him on a loan, the deal seems unlikely. In the case of any sale, 20% of his transfer fee will automatically head to Fiorentina as per his contract. I would understand him if he left, but he should continue as a part of Roma.

How about Juan Manuel Iturbe? The player Sabatini spent about 27 million euros on, after his exponential Juan_Iturbe_AS_Roma_(cropped)season with Hellas Verona.  After such a season where the young Argentine scored  8 goals and 4 assists in 29 starts for the gialloblu, he earned just 17 starts for the giallorossi; the 2 goals and 1 assist are nothing to celebrate. For such a major investment, Sabatini may try and salvage his pride and see if his prodigy will develop into a top star. On the other hand, he may swallow his pride, and cut his losses while there is such an opportunity. Genoa have claimed to be “trying to convince Juan to come,” and rumors from Di Marzio state that Benfica, Everton, and other major clubs have been showing serious interest. One of last May’s derby heroes could be out the door, but it is too early in his career to tell if Roma will be making a mistake in letting him go. A proper reinvestment through his sale could make the most sense here. ”

 

 

Juan Iturbe AS Roma (cropped)” by Paul Rudderow- Jersey Shooter from USA – 7- Juan Iturbe. Licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0 via Commons.

Colombian international Victor Ibarbo is a unique case, in that Roma do not own him. Rome now pays 5(bonuses include up to 6) million euros on top of the 2.5 million loan fee of last season, for a whopping 7.5 million in loan fees. There is the option for Roma to buy him for 8 million at the conclusion of this season, which will most likely be exercised for victor-ibarbo-debuto-con-la-roma-en-copa-italia_93obr5ihd9xf1vt9oglys7dz1either making a profit on him in the mercato or keeping him for the first squad. As of right now, it seems the first option is more likely. Victor adds great great control of match pace, endurance, and fleeting feet down the wing, but his points tally is woeful. However, he is the optimal winger for preserving a lead, and he would be a valuable asset throughout the season. On the other hand, Alessandro Florenzi also adds many of these characteristics, and Victor may never be more than surplus. This one is a tough call, but I believe Victor will make the call to leave, in order to reach a team where he is a sure starter.

Gervinho. No helicopters, no private beaches, and no stowaway girlfriends. At least, not yet for the Ivorian. One of Roma’s most dangerous, if not most dangerous player in the first week’s matchup against Hellas, Gervi lit up the peninsula in his first season in Rome, yet his feet went cold in 2014/15. Partly due to being an AFCON champion, and partly due to Roma’s overall poor playing, Gervinho suffered during the championship. With Salah on the right and Dzeko in the middle, Gervinho will mostly be without his link-up buddy in Francesco Totti. If the two are played in tandem, I have no doubt in Gervinho’s effectiveness. However, when paired on the wing with Salah, Roma misses a creator, as both players have a similar style in trying to take on the defender and go to goal. Two wingers of this style is one too many, and it is most likely that they will not learn to functionally co-exist. Gervinho is at the prime in his career, and I have no doubt he can be a useful asset throughout the season. Yet, if the offer of Abu Dhabi’s riches comes back around, Sabatini may accept a cool 15 million euros, and Gervi might take that major paycheck.

He is seen here below, contemplating such issue. Reach out to me @asromainenglish, comment below, and let me know who you think is moving on, and/or facing the Sabatini axe.

gervinho-penalties

 

 

Exploiting Adem’s Talents

Adem “Nutella” Ljajić, Roma’s #22. Yes, you are very familiar with him: moments of genius and goal scoring prowess, and others of invisibility and indifference. A boy who loves his Nutella, the Playstation, but also being a focal point in his squad; these items usually don’t go hand in hand, but the Novi Pazar man has a way of making it work.

The greatest issue Adem has faced in his tenure with Roma is his positioning. Adem was bought from Fiorentina after a stellar season, which overshadowed even that of Stephan Jovetic’s. He concluded the season with having scored 11 goals and 8 assists in just 21 matches started. Vincenzo Montella’s 3-5-2 was ideal for Adem, featuring in a dynamic #10 role on the left. 2012/13 Ljajić highlights here.

In the post-Lamela Roma, Walter Sabatini believed he had the perfect solution for replacing his Argentinian youth love. Now deployed in Rudi Garcia’s 4-3-3, Adem was placed in a new position, forced to recover the ball down the wing, feed Totti, and then continue his work down the wing for a cross or take-on. This is a completely different style from a player who excelled in #10 role, receiving the ball closer to goal with a partner forward, and giving him the trust and responsibility of making the goals and plays happen; this is the style Adem thrived on.

Roma+v+Calcio+Catania+Serie+eHcO-iF4M0ilFollowing his new position, Adem has struggled to acquire the essentials of a
winger, in that he is not an amazing crosser, doesn’t have the best endurance (I’m trying to be nice), and does not press the defenders how a winger aught to. Nevertheless, he still achieved 6 goals and 5 assists in 17 starts in his first season in Rome, and closed last season with 8 goals and 2 assists in 23 starts; part of the dip last season was due to Roma’s purge, where a win was harder to come by than a gelato in Hell.

With a loan/sale of Juan Manuel Iturbe to Sampdoria or Fiorentina seeming imminent, and Adem’s “homegrown” status, it’s almost certain that Adem will stay for this season, and onwards. His sufficiency on the wing has earned him an important place in the roster, and his creativity cannot be undervalued. However, if Rudi is to get the best out his young Bosnian-Serb, he must change Adem’s role to more central, and closer to the net.

In today’s tie against Hellas, the gialloblu tucked their midfield back and their defenders wide, forcing a more direct play from Roma, which cut off the contribution from the wingers, and forced Dzeko to drop back and out of position. The deadlock could not be broken, and this is where Ljajić could have come in handy: With Ljajić in the middle of a 4-2-3-1 behind Dzeko, he could have drawn attention to himself, freeing up the wingers and Dzeko. Another  viable solution, yet unlikely for Rudi, could have been to send Falque right and Dzeko left, with Adem playing the trequartista role, behind them. It would have been a shock to the Hellas defenders, and a change of direction to a discombobulated attacking third.

I believe in Adem Ljajić, I really do. I think if Rudi figures him out, and Adem continues to push, his brains and decisiveness can play a role in Roma’s push to Scudetto glory. Daje.

 

From the Nile to the Tiber

Alessandro Florenzi, Ricky Gervinho, Juan Manuel Iturbe, Victor Ibarbo, Iago Falque, Adem Ljajić; all players who have, can, and/or will play as a winger for Roma. The first of that list being our homegrown boy now deployed as a rightback, to the snaking Gervinho, the prosperous Iturbe, defensive stronghold of Victor, dynamic newcomer Iago, and the sporadic greatness of Adem. Yes, all good wingers, who will do fine at Roma. The last thing one would think was that Roma needed another winger, especially considering the gaping holes on the squad in the wingbacks. A sour taste was left in the mouth of the fans, as it seemed a so-so attack would lead the 15/16 season.

Roma was always was missing that decisive game changer though; the wing forward who would put the opponent up against the wall, and make them beg to stop; a real coup de grace player. Just this week, it was confirmed that Sabatini may have secured the winger to lead Roma out of mediocrity and into greatness. His name is the Pharaoh, Mohamed Salah.

Mo’s story is transient, and as of recently, a bit legally complicated, and I will briefly touch on it in the next two paragraphs: As an 18 year old, Mo stated his claim, and became a started for Egyptian first league team El Mokawloon. During the Arab Spring of 2011/12, the league was then cancelled for its remainder. A quick move to Swiss dynamos Basel for the 2012/13 season saw Mo rise on the world stage. He impressed Chelsea in a defeat to Basel, but found himself in hot water for refusing to shake the hands of Israel’s Maccabi Tel Aviv. He was urged by Egyptian voices not to travel to the Zionist state, and called the incident merely a coincidence. It was indeed a sticky situation.

On October 18th, 2013, he scored a great breakaway goal against Chelsea in the Champions League. Not so ironically, Chelsea then purchased him that following winter of 2014, for 15.5m euros. Just 3 starts saw Salah head to Fiorentina on loan on deadline day, February 2nd, 2015. 6 goals and 3 assists in just 10 starts and 6 substitutions saw Mohamed become one of Fiorentina’s most important players. A contract issue over his obligated extension remains a legal issue for Fiorentina and Chelsea, but Roma look to be legally sound with his arrival.

Back to today: Salah is officially a Roma player, with a 5m euro loan fee, and option to buy for another 15m euros at the conclusion of this season. What he brings is evident by Jose Mourinho’s opinion: “He’s young, he’s fast, he’s creative, he’s enthusiastic. When we analyzed him, he looks like the kind of humbled personality on the pitch, ready to work for the team.” Further, Jose compared his qualities to that of his past player, Dutch hotshot Arjen Robben. Wikipedia will tell you that Mo is renowned for his flair, creativity, and ball control; I can’t disagree.

In today’s 1-3 win over Valencia, a shaky Roman backline was not enough to keep Mo from scoring on his debut. Just 8 minutes into the match, a pass from Pjanić, stupendous flick on from Totti, and two shots from Gervinho off the post fell right into his lap, for a goal. The perfect start, the perfect play. Check it out here.

I have the feeling, I believe that this is the start of something big. Now combined with Edin Dzeko, Frank, Gervais, and the rest of the motley crew, Mohamed can start something big. It may be a bit too early to call it, but I have a feeling that Mohamed Salah will become our Pharaoh on the Tiber.

 

Edit: Since this article was written, Salah was a catalyst in Roma’s Opening Day match against Sevilla, helping the team climb to 6-0 before the Spaniards’ comeback after the many substitutions.

Romanità: Scudetto Solidarity

Aeneas. Rhea Silvia. Romulus. Gaius Julius Caesar.

Amadei. Di Bartolomei. Conti. Totti. De Rossi.

A brief historical list of the leaders of Rome. From the city’s foundation and the she-wolf, to Julius Caesar expanding the empire, and now at the feet of Totti, Rome has always been populated and led by the finest individuals in the world. Romanesque, Romano, Romanitá: Just a few of the adjectives which describe an essence of Romanism. The Romanità of individuals has not always been so fortunate; the death of Remus, the assassination of Julius Caesar, are ancient examples, for instance. A more current example is the tragic death of Ago Di Bartolomei; the captain of Roma who tragically took his life, exactly 10 years after Roma lost to Liverpool in the Champions League Final, in 1983. Fates undeserving, the last one mentioned almost too difficult to write about.

Not all emperors were born in Rome, and not all bandiere can be from Roma’s primavera. There is nothing wrong with that. What is a requirement though, is that Roma’s captain bleeds red and yellow; shows up to every match, with the blood thirsty intent of not just winning, but capitulating the opponent. Professionalism, or lets call it “statesmanship,” also comes hand in hand with the role; Roma is a professional club, and part of the Romanism is that our captain handles himself in a professional, executory way.In an era where Lazio’s last captain is a convicted match fixer, Rome has two of the most prominent leaders of all time wearing her shirt. They just both happen to be Roman.

It’s been 32 years since Roma’s second to last scudetto, and 14 since the magical Batistuta led the wolf to glory. There isn’t the time for giving anything less. When we come across players such as Alessio Romagnoli, it’s easy to blame management for not wanting to keep these future leaders. However, not once did I read, see, or hear a statement from Alessio that he wanted to stay; this is unacceptable. Further, it seems destiny paved its way, as Romagnoli was uncovered in a Lazio shirt, just days ago. Nothing but a hiccup in Roma’s march to destiny; there is greater work that needs to be done.

For the present and future, Roma has a group worthy of leading together. As Totti will leave the majority of the playing time to his Augustus, De Rossi, we can be sure that there is a determined core already in full swing: The new Trajan, Radja Nainggolan, with Ale Florenzi and Daniele Verde as his consulates. When the boy from Campania  returns from loan, we will be expecting big things from him. For now, Radja and Florenzi exemplify exactly what it means, and takes, to lead Rome. A kiss to Nonna, a Roman soldier’s helmet for a hairstyle, and the hope of spring-green Verde, Roma has her next triumvirate.

For now though, now is the ultimate necessary. The 2015/16 Serie A season is our greatest hope since 1982/83. The new additions guided by the leadership of Totti, in his last push for a title, can take the scudetto back to Rome. The leadership is there, the drive and will is there, and the talent is there. Under the shadow of the she-wolf, and in the light of our finest general ever, it is time for a fourth Roman championship.

 

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