Roma's title hopes aren't over yet

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The 2015/16 season started with a lot of optimism surrounding Roma. The club had made some impressive acquisitions in the transfer window - or at least they seemed impressive on paper - and they managed to retain the services of their high profile players.

The likes of Radja Nainggolan, Miralem Pjanic and Kostas Manolas all remained with the club after impressing in the previous season, while Edin Dzeko, Mohammed Salah and Iago Falque were all recruited to the capital.

It all seemed like shrewd business conducted by the Giallorossi, business that would help with their search to secure their first Serie A title since 2001. How things have changed in a matter of months.


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Domestic form takes a turn for the worst

Proceedings actually began brightly for Roma in the Serie A, a 2-1 win against bitter rivals Juventus in the second round of matches had people believing they were set up for a title challenge. However, things have gone downhill very quickly since.

Despite high-profile victories over city rivals Lazio and Fiorentina, 2-0 and 2-1 respectively, Roma have struggled to find any level of consistency or remedy to plug their leaky defence. The club have conceded 18 goals so far this season and in recent weeks, results have reached their lowest point.

A 2-0 home loss to Atalanta on November 29 was followed by a dismal 1-1 draw with Torino where again, Roma showed their defensive frailties.

What is more concerning, is that the team now seem to have forgotten how to find the back of the net as well. Their attacking prowess bailed them out of trouble at the start of the campaign, but injuries to Salah and Gervinho heavily restricted their offensive pace and penetration. Dzeko has also struggled to find consistency in an ever-changing forward line.

A 0-0 draw away at Napoli in their last fixture was a very credible result, but was followed by a cup exit to Spezia and a 2-0 win over relegation battlers Genoa - proving their inability to go on a good run of form is affecting hopes for the season.

Champions League campaign hasn't been much better

Despite actually qualifying for the knockout stages of the Champions League, Roma have had a pretty disastrous campaign in truth.

Like their domestic season, the European competition actually began rather positively for the Italian side, earning a 1-1 draw with the mighty Barcelona. Alessandro Florenzi scored one of the most sensational goals in recent memory to secure a point for his side.

However soon after, the campaign took a turn for the worst. A 3-2 loss away at Belarusian side BATE Borisov was followed by a 4-4 draw at home to Bayer Leverkusen. Roma did beat the German side in the return match but in their next game, the club took its darkest turn.

A trip to the Nou Camp saw the Italians lose 6-1 in a game that really could have witnessed double figures for the Spanish giants. All of Roma's flaws were on show once again; a lack of defensive nous, shattered morale and what seems to be an obvious lack of talent throughout the squad.

In their final group game against BATE, they only managed to scrape through by virtue of a 0-0 draw. Leverkusen's failure to defeat Barcelona meant that they were eliminated on the head-to-head ruling.

In reality, Roma had deserved to lose their final game and were actually booed off by their fans despite qualifying for the next round - a sign of just how lucky they were to qualify.

They face Real Madrid in the last 16, with many fans and pundits already condemning the out of form Italians to certain elimination.

What needs to be done?

The root of the obvious issues within the Roma camp is hard to single out. The defence has been woeful for large parts of the season, but a number of players further forward have equally failed to deliver on a regular basis. The likes of Juan Iturbe have struggled to have any significant input to the side which highlights the lack of depth in the squad.

They are still in a fairly decent position in the league despite their poor form, which just goes to show you how open Serie A is this season. If they manage to pull themselves together sooner rather than later, perhaps they can mask over their failings in recent months.

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Serie A
Edin Dzeko
AS Roma

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