As part of a series of the greatest team of the 2000s, the first team to start the list will be the Scudetto winning AS Roma side of the 2000-2001 season. As the last Roma side to win the Scudetto, they had a superb tactician in Fabio Capello leading the side and had players hitting their highest form.
To start the season, Capello was given funds to spend, and he spent over 50 million euros on proven players in Walter Samuel, Emerson, and Gabriel Batistuta. In signing a center-back, a central midfielder and a striker, Capello essentially instilled a new spine into the side. Yet, despite this, Emerson missed the first half of the season due to a serious injury. In this season, many players truly stepped up and performed at a level never seen from them before. This was the first true world-class season from Francesco Totti, while Vincent Candela stepped up as a quality left wing-back for the side. Here are some of the interesting tactical features of the Roma side.
1. The central midfielders
The injury to Emerson meant Tomassi and Christian Zanetti were Roma’s first choice central midfield pairing in a 3-4-1-2 formation. Both, in truth, were far from spectacular players. They did their defensive jobs without much fuss as highly disciplined central midfielders. As none of the front three in Totti, Batistuta and one of Marco Delvecchio or Vincenzo Montella tracked back, the two central midfielders prevented space in the center of the pitch for the opposition to attack.
2. The wing-backs
Vincent Candela and Cafu performed admirably as wing-backs during Roma’s Scudetto winning season. By this time, Cafu was a superb right-back, having captained Brazil to a World Cup in 1994 and leading them to another final in 1998. Cafu was Roma’s assist leader in Serie A, amassing 10 assists during this season. Cafu was what you would expect in a Brazilian full-back, good defensively and very good going forward. Cafu and Roberto Carlos were the true start of attacking full-backs as we see now, including the likes of Dani Alves and Marcelo, among others in recent seasons. Candela, obviously, was not as well-known. While Cafu performed admirably offensively and defensively, Candela did more of an unspectacular job. Despite this, he still managed to score three goals during the season.
Batistuta was an inspired signing, as his 20 goals led Roma to the Scudetto. In truth, this was his last great season as a striker, as his next season saw him score just six goals. One of the main problems of the side was choosing Batistuta’s strike partner, between Montella and Delvecchio. Delvecchio started the season, as the classic tall targetman holding play up and performing well for the team. As the season went on, however, Montella’s scoring record off the bench meant he started games. Montella was a completely different type of player, as a fast poacher. Delvecchio only scored three goals in the entirety of the Serie A season, while Montella was Roma’s second top scorer, with 14 goals in the league.