It was ticklish at times, but in the end AS Roma made history—defeating Chievo 1-0 on Thursday and extending their winning run to 10 matches to start the 2013-14 Serie A season.
And with 24 goals scored and only one conceded from more than 900 minutes of football, they will no doubt be tipped to prevail over their 12th-place opponents and win an 11th match on the bounce.
But what if they don’t? After the hysteria of Thursday, might they fall flat in Piedmont? And would a loss or draw derail what has appeared such a well-oiled machine throughout the early days of the campaign?
These are awkward questions to ask so quickly after a memorable win, but they were no doubt playing on the minds of many a Roma player, fan and pundit as the hosts struggled to see off a plucky Chievo side at Stadio Olimpico.
Rudi Garcia, too, must surely have considered them in recent weeks, even as victory piled on top of victory.
The Roma manager has been so prepared, so thorough in his anticipation for each opponent that it would be foolish to assume he hasn’t also planned for the eventuality that one day—perhaps soon, perhaps down the road—his outfit will get their first taste of defeat.
But it’s those same qualities that also indicate Roma will be just fine when it happens.
In Garcia the capital side has a boss who, perhaps better than many of his peers, has a keen insight into the dynamics of his squad—which players function best in certain situations, which are required to get a result against a particular opponent.
These are attributes that served the Frenchman well during his successful tenure at Lille, and with Roma he seems to have fostered them even more.
The players, for their parts, seem to recognize that, and as a result they are eager to play well for him and for each other. The team spirit is incredibly high—so high that a single poor result would be unlikely to threaten it.
Yes, Roma will drop points this season, and yes, at some point between now and May, they’ll come up against adversity they hadn’t counted on facing.
But thanks to the intangibles engendered by Garcia, their low points will likely be short and shallow.
Garcia’s appointment might have raised eyebrows when it happened, but it’s proving an inspired one that is already paying off big time.
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