Luciano Spalletti will need to take immediate corrective action to sort out his defence with the Giallorossi, or risk another year without Champions League football
The Giallorossi’s start to the season has been far from stellar. Ten points from six games is a disappointing return for a side who aspire to be challenging for Serie A’s crown this season. Their record looks all the more bleak considering they’ve played just one side who finished in last season’s top five.
However, compared to their short-lived Champions League campaign, I Lupi’s Serie A start looks credible. After achieving a respectable away result in Porto, drawing 1-1 with the Dragons, Roma lived up to their stereotype in impressive form and collapsed to a 3-0 defeat with two players sent-off.
While that defeat was mainly down to the idiocy of Daniele De Rossi and Emerson, Roma’s collapse was that night was started by some tragic defending by Juan Jesus from a free-kick. The former Inter defender completely lost his compatriot Felipe and the Porto defender rightly punished Jesus. The Roma man’s dreadful marking set the tone for the night, whilst forcing the Giallorossi to chase the game leaving them exposed throughout, in a game where Roma needed to stay tight defensively.
Roma’s stuttering season has been littered with these mistakes from their defence. Specifically, from their new centre-backs; Federico Fazio, Jesus and Thomas Vermaelen have arguably been the worst offenders.
Fazio was certainly to blame for his side going behind in their 3-1 loss away against Torino at the weekend. Fazio lost all concentration and simply let a deadly Andrea Belotti stand behind him in acres of space. Once again the Argentine was rightly punished for his ineptitude.
Similarly, later in the match, another new signing Bruno Peres seemed to have contracted Fazio’s lack of awareness and foolishly tripped Belotti inside the penalty area. Peres’ challenge was completely avoidable as Fazio was just inside the Brazilian ready to nip the ball away from the young Italian.
All these issues may simply be teething problems for Roma’s new defenders, a completely reasonable argument especially considering the complexities of defending at the top level. Partnerships take some time to develop and Spalletti would probably do well to stick one centre-back alongside the excellent Kostas Manolas to let a partnership mature.
Additionally, Roma aren’t the most defensively organised team, Spalletti has yet to get his team’s pressing game to an adequate level, and as a result, the Giallorossi are often exposed.
However, though Roma’s defence may improve over the season, it may get worse or simply remain in its current shambolic state.
All centre-backs signings are players who were either not playing last season for their previous teams or were way down the pecking order. Over the last two seasons, Vermaelen played just 21 games for Barcelona, whilst Fazio played just once for his parent club Tottenham last season. Of course there were other circumstances which may limit playing time such as injury, but generally, these statistics should worry Roma fans.
At this point in the season, Roma have plenty of opportunities to turn their season into something memorable. They’re still just five points of league leaders Juventus with 32 games still to play and the Europa League can be an exciting competition to go far in. Yet, if the Giallorossi’s defence continues to play without organisation or simply continue to make silly mistakes, it could turn into a long and arduous season for Roma.