Ever since Sampdoria’s surprise championship-winning campaign during the 1990/1991 season, the Serie A trophy has found itself outside of the cities of Torino or Milan for only 24 months as Juventus, Inter and AC Milan have dominated Italian calcio.
The only respite from this dominance occurred at the turn of the millennium as first SS Lazio and then city rivals AS Roma brought the main prize to the capital city for two consecutive seasons. Since Roma’s championship victory parade in the summer of 2001 the Giallorossi have ended up as runners-up an incredible seven times as Francesco Totti and co saw the likes of Paolo Maldini, Alessandro Del Piero, Javier Zanetti and Gianluigi Buffon lifting the alluding trophy.
Thomas Richard DiBenedetto’s takeover in 2011 brought with it much optimism that finally the time had come for the country’s northern supremacy to be broken once in calcio. Luis Enrique’s appointment amidst the takeover was done with the aim of starting a long term project that made Roma one of the nest clubs in Europe once again. However, a seventh placed finish saw him leaving the club just 12 months after his appointment.
The fiery and ultra-offensive Zdenek Zeman followed and once more Roma seemed to be faltering under the American ownership. Nonetheless, the brave decision to install former Lille coach Rudi Garcia proved to be inspirational in 2013.
Under the Frenchman, the Giallorossi have recaptured the form, and most importantly, the adventurous style of play built on a solid defensive foundation that had been missing since the heyday of Luciano Spalletti’s Roma.
Last season Roma spent nine rounds at the top of the table and only conceded 25 league goals, just two more than winners Juventus. Mehdi Benatia was undoubtedly the star of an organized defence lacking any big stars with Giuseppe de Rossi, Kevin Strootman, Miralem Pjanic, Francesco Totti, Mattia Destro and Gervinho pulling the stings ahead of him.
Consequently, Benatia was not lacking in suitors as Bayern Munich eventually managed to strike off a deal with Roma to acquire the defender for €28 million. Nonetheless, the money obtained seems to have been well spent this summer.
The Greek defenders Jose Holebas and, more significantly, Konstantinos Manolas were brought in from Olympiacos for a combined €14 million. Ashley Cole, Urby Emanuelson and Seydou Keita were all brought in to add experience to a relatively youthful side. Among them, these three free transfers boast of European appearances. As impressive as last season’s rearguard was, it was still lacking in numbers (especially so after Federico Balzaretti’s long-term injury problem) and the acquisitions of Davide Astori and Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa look to ratify that. Along with the previously present Leandro Castan, Maicon and Vasilis Torosidis the defensive department seems to be strong enough to mount a challenge at the very top.