Sunday, 22 July 2012

Welcome to Zemanlandia!

Roma players have had a rude awakening to the 2012-13 season. The words of new coach Zdenek Zeman tell us just that.

"We are halfway through pre-season and the lads aren't completely accustomed to my methods yet. They have suffered a bit, but you have to learn to suffer in football. I'm pleased with the progress we've made so far."

Zdenek Zeman - New Roma Coach

If the Giallorossi players thought they were going to have an easy time through the preseason they were wrong. So much so that captain Francesco Totti has joked that he 'can't keep up.' The veteran has had a bit of an attitude change it seems after a long season of arguing with former boss Luis Enrique.

“My role? We will see and I will adapt. The important thing is to play. Football is fun, I enjoy the sport and try to give the fans entertainment too. As long as I am physically able, I will try to give my contribution.”

Francesco Totti - Roma Captain

Totti is referring to speculation that he may be moved to the flank under Zeman rather than playing a pure centre forward position. It remains to be seen if his tune will change as time goes by, but as always for Roma Totti is a key to their season. However there is much more in the capital city these days than just Francesco Totti.

The Giallorossi have been making headlines day in and day out, most recently with the Mattia Destro transfer saga. It finally looks as though he will finally sign for Roma barring any last minute moves by Juventus again. There was also Fabio Borini whom Destro is slated to replace. I've stated in previous posts how much I disliked the sale of Fabio. Not only did they sell one of their better performers from last season, but they did not recieve bagfulls of money either. But I digress.

There is much to be said about the new crop of players that they have brought in. Brazil was a main destination the Romans went looking for signatures, and they got a couple. Bolstering the back lines with the likes of Leandro Castan and Dodo. Castan will play in a central role in hopes of replacing the departed Juan. While Dodo figures to play as a left fullback. Both come with good resumes but no track record in the top leagues so they may take time to adapt. Although Dodo is only twenty and could be something special.


In the midfield, David Pizarro is back following his loan to Manchester City but it remains to be seen whether he will be in Zeman's plans for the first team. Jonathan Lucca is an 18-year-old they brought in from Brazil that figures to be loaned out at some point before the transfer window closes. Panagiotis Tachtsidis, who was brought in from Genoa, is a relatively unknown player to me, but what I do know is that he played for Verona in Serie B last term and impressed Zeman very much. American Michael Bradley arrives from Chievo; he is a player who is known more for his work ethic than his skill, so he should fit in nicely with Zeman. Lastly, Marquinho was brought over on a loan deal in January from Fluminense, scored 3 goals in 15 matches and impressed enough to have that loan made permanent.

Bradley, Tachtsidis, Lucca, and Castan

If they are able to sign Mattia Destro to this already impressive attack which includes Pablo Osvaldo and Francesco Totti then Mr. Zeman might actually be telling the truth. Roma can compete for the Scudetto. However, the strong attack somewhat depends on Erik Lamela. The young Argentine who came into the Serie A last season with much hype and while he showed flashes of greatness he did not put it together with consistency. Zdenek Zeman has a reputation for bringing the best out of his young players, and after a season at Pescara where all of Italy was talking about Lorenzo Insigne, Ciro Immobile, and of course the now departed Marco Verratti, it sounds to me that the old man knows what he's doing.

Erik Lamela

Now the real kicker came this morning. Reports out of Italy suggest that Manchester City, who has been surprisingly quiet in the transfer window to this point, are preparing a 25 million pound bid for the main reason Roma can be talked about in any Scudetto conversation right now; Daniele De Rossi. One of the best box to box midfielders on the planet who has bled Giallorossi for so many years could be on the way out. It would be a hard bid to reject, but he is one player that would be damn-near impossible to replace.

Daniele De Rossi

The thing is Roma and Zeman need things to fall perfectly into place to mount a serious title challenge. There are plenty of ifs on this team, but that also means plenty of potential. Aside from the sale of Borini I like what they've done so far. However, they may need one more year of developing the youngsters before they can mount a serious title challenge. Champions League qualification is a more realistic goal for the Giallorossi.

Zeman will surely be sending his tried and true 4-3-3 formation and I'm going to take a stab at potential starting XI while I'm at this.

Rosi           Burdisso        Heinze      Dodo

Marquinho        De Rossi             Pjanic

Lamela         Osvaldo       Totti/Destro

If Destro does arrive on Monday like the reports say he will, then Totti may have trouble finding space in the starting eleven in which case we'll see how well he's adapted.

And I almost forgot about Bojan Krkic.. he scored twice today. This team has a lot of talent up front with or without Mattia Destro.

Let me know what you think!!


  1. Dan

    got into Roma after holiday in Rome in the Spring. Never heard of Zeman in the UK - now can't wait to see what happens - see that you are are a Juve fan, but love this sort of informed article so hope you can cover Roma's adventure on a regular bais

    Keep up the good work

  2. Thank you for the kind words, by all accounts we will be talking Roma quite a bit this season, they really have a legit shot at the Scudetto.