A.S Roma Preview ’13/’14: Defense

Maicon


By: Dani (@Daniel741L)



Names: Tin Jedvaj, Maicon, Nico Burdisso, Leandro Castan, Federico Balzaretti, Dodo, Mehdi Benatia, Alessio Romagnoli, Vasilis Torosidis.

Expected Starters:
Maicon-Benatia-Castan-Balzaretti

2012-13 Statistics:
(Games, Yellow Cards, Red Cards)

Tin Jedvaj : (16, 4, 0)
Maicon : (9, 0, 0)
Nico Burdisso : (25, 9, 0)
Leandro Castan : (30, 6, 0)
Federico Balzaretti : (27, 4, 1)
Dodo : (11, 1, 0)
Mehdi Benatia : (19, 5, 0)
Alessio Romagnoli : (2, 0, 0)
Vasilis Torosidis : (11, 3, 0)

Outlook:

Focusing on defending should be Roma’s paramount objective for the 2013 – 2014 season under Rudi Garcia. Last season under gung ho manager Zdenek Zeman, Roma shipped 56 goals in the league, the fourth worst defensive record in the league. Embarrassing defeats to lower teams plagued Roma’s campaign last season and resulted in a 6th place finish without the prospect of European football to look forward to this season. It’s crucial for Roma that the defensive is improved.

It’s partly due to Roma’s defensive calamities last season that Rudi Garcia was brought in. During the Frenchman’s unveiling in New York he even stressed that a team cannot win without focusing on the back line. Roma fans breathed a sigh of relief. Even under Zeman’s predecessor, Luis Enrique, Roma were humiliated by provincial sides and the priority for Roma this season would be to consolidate more points against the smaller teams.

The transfer campaign started well, with experienced Serie A stopper Mehdi Benatia brought in for €13.5m. This transfer seemed like a point of departure from the previous two campaigns because previously Roma failed to bring in centre backs with Serie A experience (Gabriel Heinze, Marquinhos, and Leandro Castan). In fact last season, Roma’s back four operated with barely any Serie A experience. Piris, Marquinhos and Castan were all playing in Europe for the first time in their careers and Balzaretti was consistently off-form. This season sees a more tried and tested back line with Maicon, Benatia, Castan and Balzaretti all with Serie A experience (in fact they have 19 seasons and 424 appearances in Serie A collectively).

Leandro Castan, who is rumoured to be having problems settling in Italy is still likely to remain.

Roma also have a fair amount of quality back-ups with which they could call on. Nicolas Burdisso’s future remains in the balance but could provide a steady head in the defence should need be, however he will probably be behind young Croatian Tin Jedvaj in the pecking order after the juvenile centre back impressed during pre-season with impressive technical ability as well as the ability to be versatile and play in several other positions. It remains to be seen whether Maicon can rediscover the form that made him the world’s best right back during his time at Internazionale but the immediate signs are positive.

This leaves us with the curious case of Alessio Romagnoli. Having made his debut (and grabbing a goal) under Zeman, the Italy youth International is still wondering if he will slot in the side for this season. The arrival of Jedvaj has done nothing to settle his doubts and a loan move could be on the cards. Although many Roma fans would love to see Romagnoli break into the first team due to his Roman roots, perhaps he is just not good enough to ever be able to hold down a first team spot in this squad. With no new additions to the defence on the cards, Roma can be satisfied with the work they’ve done this summer in terms of correcting the defensive problems of old. If need be, Sabatini will invest money in January should the old defensive ways rear their heads.