In Roma’s first adventure in the Champions League under Luciano Spalletti, the average age of the squad was 24 – this season it is 2 years older, providing the right mix of experience and young talent.
Roma returned to the fore in the Champions League in 2006/07 thanks to a second place finish achieved in the year following the calciopoli scandal. Luciano Spalletti was in charge and he was desperate to put Roma’s spectacular style of play on the European stage.
The Certaldo-born coach picked 23 players for the European campaign (average age of 24.56), relying on a well-established set of players and a tactical system that was capable of adapting to changing situations. In goal was Doni (26) with Curci (20) as back up, while at the back there were players who were comfortable with the ball like Chivu (25) and rock solid defenders like Mexes (24). At full back were the experienced Panucci (33), Tonetto (31) and Cassetti (29), able to be replaced by Rosi (19), Ferrari (26) and Defendi (20).
In midfield were the exuberant Romans and Romanisti De Rossi (22) and Aquilani (21), organised by the wise head of Pizarro (26). The tireless Perrotta (28) and Taddei (26) supported the pacy Mancini (25) and Wilhelmsson (26), with Virga (20) and Faty (19) completing the options in the midfield.
In attack, of course, was Totti (29): the captain had a magnificent season (32 goals in total), aided by Vucinic (22), Montella (32) and the very young Okaka (16).
No one will forget that night in Manchester, and Roma needed to start over from scratch to prove to everyone that they really were Champions League quality. Spalletti was in charge of a team that can be recalled from memory; among the 23 players (average age of 26.39) named for the tournament were a few very experienced players. Doni (27) continued in goal, with Curci (21) second choice. Chivu was sold, and in his place in central defence were Juan (28) who formed a fine partnership with Mexes (25). Added to them were Panucci (34), invaluable for his versatility, and Cicinho (27), the Brazilian right back signed from Real Madrid. Completing the defence were Cassetti (30), Tonetto (32), Ferrari (27) and the Portuguese Antunes (20).
In midfield were the immovable Pizarro (27) with De Rossi (23) and Aquilani (22), all excellent practitioners of Spalletti’s style of play. The unforgettable Perrotta (29), with Taddei (27), Mancini (26) and the new faces of Giuly (30), Pit (23), Brighi (26) and Barusso (22) completed the midfield.
Up front as always was the class of Totti (30), supported by the unpredictability of Vucinic (23) and the running of the former Cagliari player Esposito (28).
The last full season of Luciano Spalletti had its highs and lows: in the Champions League the aim was to return to being one of the best 16 teams in Europe, and the 25 players (average age of 27.08) were an attempt at mixing experience and quality.
In goal were the two Brazilians Doni (28) and Artur (27), while Mexes (26) and Juan (29) formed the central defensive pairing. On the left were the new signing Riise (27) with Cicinho (28) covering the right flank. Other defensive options were the usual Tonetto (33), Cassetti (31) and Panucci (35). Among the new faces were Motta (22), Loria (31) and Diamoutene (25).
The precision of Pizarro (28) was supported by the tireless De Rossi (24) and the class of Aquilani (23), with Perrotta (30) always ready to step in when needed. Taddei (28), Brighi (27) and Filipe (21) completed the midfield.
In attack were Julio Baptista (26) with the talented Menez (21) and returning Okaka (18). The beating heart up front was as always Totti (31), supported by Vucinic (24) and Montella (34).
Nearly 10 years on, Spalletti leads Roma in the Champions League again, but on a path never previously taken: the play-offs, with Porto standing in the way of a place in the groups. The 23 players (average age 26.34) will have to perform to perfection for 180 minutes.
The two competing for a place in goal are Alisson (23) and Szczesny (26), and this choice will be facing the coach for the entire season. In defence the hierarchy is relatively clear: Manolas (25) and the ex-Barcelona player Vermaelen (30) will form the central defensive pairing, flanked by Florenzi (25), Juan Jesus (25) and the recently arrived Bruno Peres (26). On the bench are Fazio (29), Emerson Palmieri (22) and Torosidis (31).
In midfield will be Strootman (26), Nainggolan (28) and De Rossi (33), with Paredes (22) ready to support. Gerson (19) is one to look out for, while Vainqueur (27) is always ready.
The attacking line up will be made up of Perotti (28), Salah (24) and El Shaarawy (23), while Iturbe (23) and Ricci (22) will need to make the most of any opportunity they get. If goals don’t come from Dzeko (30), there’s always Totti (39) waiting to delight the Roma supporters.
This article is a translation – the original was written by Mirko Porcari for forza-roma.info. The original can be read here.