Tuesday, February 24 th, 2015
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How Roma can avoid to be dismantled again by Bayern Munich
The Giallorossi cannot afford to be outnumbered in the midfield and they will have to play a counter-attacking game. The same they did vs Manchester City. And it worked
by Federico Formica
Can you imagine a more difficult away game than one at the Allianz Arena? Roma will face the hardest test of the season at the worst moment. And the opponent is none other than the same Bayern Munich that put them in trouble with a 1-7 at the Olimpico, a game which started to deteriorate Roma's certainties.

It was like the Giallorossi lost their virginity, since it was the very first time they were humiliated under Garcia's guidance. The problems that followed that game all started with that horrific night. Now, it's up to Roma to decide whether to close the circle or not. Assuming that Bayern Munich is clearly better than the Giallorossi in each part of the pitch, a draw in Germany it's not a mission impossible and it would be an important step towards the qualification for the knock-out stage, although not still a decisive one.

- Full-backs, Achille's heel. It's a refrain for every Roma fan. The team is currently weak on the defensive flanks and the reason is especially one: Maicon's absence. The Brazilian was crucial in the Wolves' brilliant first part of the season. His offensive contribution to CSKA's dismantling and in the precious draw at Manchester City was decisive but Maicon played an important role even helping the defence, as the graph shows. He's the all-round full-back that Roma is lacking so much.

Maicon's Champions League experience is very important for an almost rookie side like Roma. Sure, Ashley Cole (107 caps in the competition) could also give an important contribution in this sense. Unfortunately the Englishman is largely disappointing as he seems too shy in the offensive phase and sometimes unsuitable in the defensive one. Garcia seems like he's losing faith in Cole, as the recent deployment of Torosidis-Holebas proves. The Greek duo is not exactly what Roma fans dreamed in the past summer reading the transfer market news, but they can be considered as a solid and trustworthy solution, even if their offensive contribution is quite non-existent. All things considered, Torosidis-Holebas it's definitely the best solution for Allianz's clash, though not the best possible. It must be said that in the 1-7, with Holebas' entrance in place of Cole, Roma was not outplayed anymore on that flank.

- Pace, not passes. One of the most painful lessons of the 1-7 was: don't even try to monopolise the ball possession if you are facing a team led by Pep Guardiola. Roma have no choice: they have to play a counter-attacking game. They did in large parts of the game vs Manchester City, and it worked. But Roma cannot afford to be outnumbered in the midfield either. A 4-men line would something unprecedented for Rudi Garcia, so it all depends on the men he will pick for his 4-3-3. What does this mean? Garcia has to bench Miralem Pjanić and start with a muscular trio: Daniele De Rossi, Seydou Keita and Radja Nainggolan. De Rossi would drop between the centre-backs when Bayern will attack; Nainggolan is the only player comparable to a box-to-box midfielder currently available, while Keita would distribute the ball and orchestrate the tempo, even if the Malian it's also a good marker and knows how to lead the pressing (don't forget that he played under Guardiola's lead at Barcelona).

- Totti or Destro? There's a great debate among Roma fans whether Mattia Destro should have more minutes from Rudi Garcia. The Italian bomber has been almost ignored in the Champions League campaign so far, and his cohabitation with Totti from the first minute is not Garcia's first choice. Who would be fitter for the game at the Allianz Arena? Mattia Destro would give more dynamism and assure more pressing for Roma, but he should receive new tactical assignments from Garcia to reach these goals, as Destro is normally used to occupy the opponents' area and he never participates too much in the play. Totti provides genius and unpredictability to the Wolves and it would be the best (and the only) link between midfield and attacking line in Pjanic's absence.

Basically, it depends on what Garcia wants from his attackers: should Totti play, the best wingers would be Iturbe and Gervinho, who are good at cutting inside and exploit the passing lanes created by Roma's number 10, who is basically a false nine. If Destro will be the chosen one, then Florenzi would be a better option than Iturbe, as the Italian is a better crosser than the Argentinian. With Gervinho-Destro-Florenzi Roma could play in the old English way: crosses for the target-man. An option that should not be discarded.

Wednesday, November 5 th, 2014
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