Serie A giants Roma could be set to finally overtake Juventus as the leading superpowers in Italy’s top flight.
Rudi Garcia’s side, who finished a comprehensive 17 points behind the Old Lady in their quest for the Scudetto last season, have been shrewd and active in the transfer market and have assembled a side ready to deliver a first league title since 2001.
That and the fact Juventus lost inspirational mastermind Antonio Conte this summer could see the tables turned and see the dark horse become the league’s new frontrunner.
Signs of promise
Despite finishing way behind Conte’s side last season, there had been signs that indicated their growing prowess as one of the best sides in the country.
They were sparkling in the early embers of the campaign, winning their first 10 matches and topping the table until the beginning of November, but four consecutive draws stalled their progress and they failed to mount a realistic challenge since.
Kevin Strootman had established himself amongst the first team after arriving from Netherlands outfit PSV Eindhoven, whilst the form of fellow arrivals Gervinho and Mattia Destro was particularly pleasing – with both contributing over a quarter of their league goals for the season.
Age shows no sign of fading the powers of the mercurial Francesco Totti, who chipped in with eight goals and showed he continues to contribute at the highest level.
The loss of star centre-back Mehdi Benatia to Pep Guardiola’s Bayern Munich came as a bitter blow, but the transfer fee of around £21million helped sooth the pain.
Much of that went on snaring his replacement Kostas Manolas from Greek side Olympiacos, with the defender also having long been a target for FA Cup holders Arsenal.
Big money was also dished out on midfielder Juan Iturbe, who had impressed at Hellas Verona and was granted his wish to play in front of the masses at the Stadio Olympico for the lofty fee of £17.4million.
He has also been compared to Barcelona ace Lionel Messi, although the player’s price tag has still raised many eyebrows from fans and pundits alike.
Premier League stalwart Ashley Cole left the safety of his own country for a new challenge in Italy’s top flight, with the defender leaving Chelsea after eight glittering years at the Stamford Bridge.
He had been made surplus to requirements by manager Jose Mourinho after losing his place to Cesar Azpiliqueta, who has continued to keep new arrival Felipe Luis out of the side.
Only time will tell whether Garcia can lead his side back to the riches and glory of the promise land.
They began the campaign with an impressive 2-0 win over Vincenzo Montella’s Fiorentina, and looked composed against a side many are tipping for Champions League qualification this forthcoming season.
Roma now have the talent to topple Juventus. They must now ensure they usher in a new era of dominance over in the Italian capital.
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