Despite finishing runners-up in the 2013-14 Serie A season behind league rivals Juventus, Roma has grand designs in mind for the future. Finishing second means a return to the Champions League after a four-year absence, and under the steady leadership of Rudi Garcia—which starkly contrasts with that of the slew of managers who have come and gone since 2010—Roma have finally found their identity through his imaginative and flexible 4-3-3 formation and a quality core of players, such as captain Francesco Totti, Kevin Strootman, Miralem Pjanic and Daniele De Rossi.
When Garcia arrived at Roma, many expected grand assertions of style and future projects. His predecessors, new Barcelona boss Luis Enrique and Zdenek Zeman both brought their own philosophy and attempted to institute it at all costs. Garcia took a steadier approach. Despite having some top players at his disposal, a lack of depth up front meant he had to get creative at times and depend on his 37-year-old captain, Francesco Totti.
Roma was able to achieve one of its best league results this season through Garcia’s ingenuity and flexible 4-3-3 formation, which wore down smaller opponents and allowed Roma to patiently counter-attack the big dogs. A quality core of midfielders led by Totti, a reinvented Gervinho and the prolific Mattia Destro meant quality at all positions on the field. Destro in particular led the charge with 13 goals in 18 Serie A matches. On defense, Garcia combined Mehdi Benatia and Leandro Castan to transform one of Serie A's worst defenses into one of its best.
When Strootman was lost to injury, Garcia brought in Radja Nainggolan and added steel to the midfield without compromising quality. Retaining the creative Pjanic was the biggest challenge faced by the Giallorossi in the offseason. The midfield trio of De Rossi–Strootman–Pjanic has been one of the most effective in the league, rivaling the productivity of the Pogba–Vidal partnership at Juventus.
A reported €30 million buy-out clause and new contract for Pjanic means stability and quality in midfield and allows Roma to add rotation players without compromising the talent that allowed them to finish much higher on the table than in previous seasons. With Champions League money coming in, as well as a reported new stadium with a capacity of 60,000 in 2016, Roma are on a good path for future success without compromising quality.
Juventus is already reaping the benefits of their new stadium, and Roma could follow suit. Financial security means the club can retain top players such as Pjanic that could prove crucial to challenging for the Scudetto and seeing off rivals like Juventus. If their youth program continues producing talents such as Alessandro Florenzi, Alessio Romagnoli and others, they will not have to solely depend on external transfers to shore up their already stacked lineup.
Roma, through smart business and planning, a quality core of players, smart leadership under Garcia and financial security, are well on their way to becoming one of Italy's next great superpowers.
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