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Roma: where is your forward? Garcia prepared a counter-attacking game that never took place
The Giallorossi lost a key clash for the second place to Napoli after having dominated the game. Rudi Garcia lined up an odd attacking trio, excluding the top scorer Mattia Destro
by Federico Formica
Was Rudi Garcia wrong excluding the striker Mattia Destro from the starting eleven? After the loss in Naples, the Italian press – and the Roma fans – wonder what would have been the outcome if the Giallorossi had played with one authentic striker. Napoli won 1-0 the “playoff” for the second place, that in Serie A means a straight qualification for the Champions League, as opposed to playing the preliminary round in August. Roma is still three points clear of Napoli with one more game to play, but the Azzurri now have an undeniable psychological momentum. “We are the only one to have beaten twice Roma in this season”, Rafa Benitez underlined.

With a perfect header by Josè Maria Callejon, Benitez's side obtained with a narrow margin a not so fully deserved win, having struggled to contain Roma's fast counter attacks and dangerous long distance shots. But the good game played by the Giallorossi was not crowned by a goal. Roma gave the impression to be able to reach the opponent's area quite easily, but to lack a penalty box man provided with a goal instinct.


The attacking trio chosen by Garcia was quite unusual: Bastos, Gervinho and Florenzi. Why was Roma's top scorer, the Italian international Mattia Destro, left on the bench? “We wanted to play a counter-attack game and I wanted to exploit Bastos and Gervinho's speed. But we didn't deserve to lose. In football, the best team doesn't always win” the French coach explained at the end of the match. But the numbers tell a different story, as Roma dominated in terms of ball possession (62,8%) and definitely controlled the pitch for the entire game: the Giallorossi doubled the Partenopei in the count of passes completed (505-270).

What does this mean? That the game developed differently than how Garcia presumed.

However, this was not the first time that Garcia lined up an eleven without a “number 9”. Many times, in the current season, Roma played with Gervinho-Florenzi and Totti, with Roma's captain acting like a false nine. But the same scheme can be totally different depending on the skill of the footballers who interpret it. The Ivorian Gervinho, who played in a more advanced position than Bastos and Florenzi, naturally tends towards the flank, where he tries a cross or an inside cut.

He's not comfortable as a central point of reference because he's not used to play in such a position. In the meantime, Bastos and Florenzi were very effective to contain the opposite full backs (Ghoulam and Maggio), but the Giallorossi created their best goal chances on the Maicon-Pjanić route.

Roma is still the favorite team for the second place, but they do need to recover their captain Francesco Totti and to give more confidence to Mattia Destro, their only authentic central forward.

Monday, March 10 th, 2014
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