It is not all sunshine and light for Roma and Zeman
Having just scraped a draw with Catania and having demonstrated a real lack of cohesion, there was no reason for optimism. On top of this, the extremely popular but ultimately unsuccessful Zdenek Zeman was back on the bench for the capital club.
Surely after the disaster that characterised Luis Enrique’s attempt to promote youth and attacking football, the board should have looked for a more reliable manger.
In addition, Inter, fresh from a three nil victory over Pescara, had invested heavily during the summer transfer window. The Milan based club brought in experienced Serie A players such as Antonio Cassano and Rodrigo Palacio, as well as Porto stalwart Alvaro Pereira. Add to this the spark provided by Wesley Sneijder and a Roma back line made up of three new players, and there seemed little reason for optimism.
Despite these difficulties Roma triumphed over the Nerazzurri by three goals to one. This was not only Roma’s first Serie A victory in five years against Inter in the San Siro but also Zeman’s first victory in Milan with Roma. The game itself was typical of Zeman’s inimitable style; quick balls played towards the opposition’s goal, a lot of running and an unfortunate goalkeeper forced to defend one on one.
The problem with this style of play is that it leaves the defence exposed. Aldair, one of the greatest defenders to ply his trade in Europe, has admitted it was difficult to keep clean sheets playing for Zeman.
Roma’s back line is currently made up of Nicolás Burdisso and Leandro Castán, two solid centre backs, but certainly not world class players. One can only imagine the impact a quicker, better organised attack could have against the Roman defence.
Another huge issue is a lack of defensive depth. When Federico Balzaretti went off injured he was replaced by Rodrigo Taddei, a 32 year old winger, recently reconverted as a full back. On the other side of four man defence, Iván Piris, a 23 year old with no Serie A experience, could certainly do with a more gradual introduction to Italian football.
Cover for these positions is provided by injury prone, 20 year old, Dodo, who has been injured for the best part of the past two years. If either Burdisso or Castán has to miss a game, Zeman can call on Alessio Romagnoli (17) or Marquinhos (18). Put simply the Giallorossi are one injury away from a defensive crisis.
Following the match some of the younger players were quick to speak of their Scudetto ambitions. Burdisso was quick to dismiss such talk, “In Rome it’s easy to get carried away, we need to keep our feet on the ground and try to play like this every Sunday, we certainly have the cards in hand to have a great season.”
Wise words from ‘’El Bandito’’, who no doubt remembers how last season ended despite a four nil triumph over Inter.