AS Roma: Full Report Card for Every Position Entering Serie a Season
A second-place finish in 2013-14 proved that Roma are one of Serie A's current powerhouse clubs but will the outfit from the capital be able to go one better this season?
A handful of key acquisitions could give the Giallorossi the extra edge they need to challenge Juventus for the title.
Manager Rudi Garcia is returning for his second campaign in charge, which should give the team continuity and stability.
The French coach favours a 4-3-3 system, which occasionally becomes a 4-3-1-2, so here we grade Roma's strength in each position.
The ever-reliable Morgan De Sanctis is back for another campaign, but he could have competition for his first-team spot this time around from youngster Lukasz Skorupski.
The 23-year-old Pole has filled in admirably for the injured Italian in pre-season, and with De Sanctis moving into his late thirties, Garcia may decide that it is time to usher in the next generation.
Whichever option he goes for, the Giallorossi look better placed in terms of shot-stoppers than they have for a number of years.
There is certainly enough quality between the sticks for a Roma title push.
Veteran Brazilian Maicon turned out to be an inspired signing last season and he can expect to be Roma's first choice at right-back once again.
He may have lost some pace but in Serie A that is less of an issue than in some other leagues, and the 33-year-old is experienced enough to place himself in the right positions to defend effectively most of the time.
The Giallorossi do look very thin in terms of backups in this area, so they may be in some trouble if Maicon picks up a long-term injury.
Versatile Greek player Vasilis Torosidis could fill in if needed but Garcia will be hoping the ageing Brazilian remains fit and healthy all season.
High-profile signing Ashley Cole should slip right into the starting side for Roma's Serie A campaign, further bolstering a position in which the squad already had some depth.
Cole is a left-back of undisputed quality, though the question remains as to whether his best years are now behind him.
It will also be interesting to see how the former England international copes with playing in a different competition, after spending his entire career in the Premier League.
Federico Balzaretti is the man who will be bumped from the regular starting side, and he will make a fine backup for Cole, while new signing Urby Emanuelson provides further cover.
Even though the brilliant Mehdi Benatia looks to be on his way to Bayern Munich, per international reports (h/t Eurosport), Roma still look solid in central defence.
Leandro Castan formed a formidable partnership with Benatia last season, and if the Moroccan does leave there are several candidates to take over.
Loan signing Davide Astori has a wealth of Serie A experience with Cagliari and should be comfortable at centre-back if Garcia needs him.
Teenager Alessio Romagnoli was given opportunities in the second half of last season and could play even more of a role this time around.
Much depends on whether Benatia departs and, if he does, how Roma manage with a new centre-back pairing.
Grade if Benatia stays: A
Grade if Benatia goes: B+
Roma have a superb looking midfield that is one of the best in Serie A.
Club legend Daniele De Rossi will be the hub while providing defensive cover and plenty of passion, as usual, and he will most likely be flanked by the very talented Miralem Pjanic and Radja Nainggolan.
Pjanic, in particular, is an emerging superstar of the game, and his playmaking abilities have taken some of the pressure of the ageless Francesco Totti.
Kevin Strootman is expected to be out until October with a knee injury, but he will provide a huge boost when he does return.
Local boy Alessandro Florenzi should get plenty of game time throughout the season as well, while new signings Seydou Keita, Leandro Paredes (loan), Emanuelson and Salih Ucan (loan) will all be fighting to break into the team.
Garcia tends to use a three-man strike force with a No. 9 and two wider support strikers.
Explosive young Argentine forward Juan Iturbe could potentially prove a fantastic signing for Roma. If he settles in quickly and plays to his potential, the forward line will be extremely dangerous.
Gervinho is likely to be another starter and he has the ability to both score and create numerous chances throughout the season.
Adem Ljajic can be brought in if there are injuries or dips in form, and he has shown in the past he is a capable support striker.
At 37, Totti has lost none of his breathtaking skills, even if he may have slowed down a little.
His ability to play anywhere in the attacking third gives Garcia the flexibility to tinker with his tactics, but generally the Giallorossi legend can be expected to play the role of central striker, or false nine.
If Roma need a more direct approach, Mattia Destro showed last season that he is a reliable goalscorer with the potential to get even better.
His 13 Serie A strikes came in just 20 appearances in 2013-14.
Garcia's ability to choose the right moments to use Totti and the right moments to use Destro could have a huge bearing on Roma's success this season.
Marco Borriello appears as though he may be past his best, but he could prove useful at times, while teenager Antonio Sanabria might not get too many opportunities this season, though he does have loads of potential.