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May 18, 2014

Rudi's Roma positives despite defeat

Roma’s final game of the season was one with nothing at stake, and although they subsequently lost 1-0 at Genoa, the match allowed coach Rudi Garcia to gather useful information for next season. The kids and fringe players got the chance for some vital Serie A minutes, and as it turned out, the side came very close to getting a result but ended up losing in a way that was helpful for building toward the future.

B-side Roma is like that other side of the album with the fun, goofy songs that didn’t quite hit the standard of the tracks on the A-side but were still pretty good. The defence was unquestionably solid, which was expected with Mehdi Benatia and Leandro Castan anchoring.

In attack, Adem Ljajic roamed as he tends to like to do and Alessandro Florenzi had the width of the pitch at his disposal but tucked inside at times, almost as a central midfielder. His passing was crisp but his first touches were off -- and if this game is an opportunity for Garcia to learn more about the men further down the bench, taking note of things like this could be vital for rotation next season.

Elsewhere, Radja Nainggolan was the most visible player in front of the centre-backs with a typically lively display, though his shoot-on-sight policy ends up wasting possession too much.

As a whole, it was clear that many of these guys have very few minutes under their belt. Despite the lack of chemistry, Roma nearly scored from a Ljajic free kick that found Mattia Destro’s head in the box, but Mattia Perin pulled off a superb reaction save to match Lukasz Skorupski’s stop minutes previously. Destro was offside nevertheless, but the two young goalkeepers were the top performers in the first 45 minutes, stopping whatever came their way.

Unfortunately, the excitement levels dropped in the second half, and to give an idea of just how dull it was, Roma told us themselves.

Three defeats in a row sounds like an awful way to end the season, but you have to put the results in context. All three occurred once Juventus had the title won and Roma nothing to play for, while Rudi left a string of first-team players out of this one.

If the goal of the game was to see how well Roma’s reserves could do against the lower sides in the league, the result was more or less positive: a team with only three starters nearly kept a clean sheet and almost earned a point.

This result could have easily been different. After all, it was mostly the attack that was stifled and the defence held up well despite that one mistake. Walter Sabatini and Garcia certainly know what they need to do -- bring Roma the few key players they need for depth and quality to keep the side in contention in all competitions next year. And don’t forget the motivation of having something at stake -- the side just isn’t the same without that. These three defeats should take nothing away from a truly superb season for Roma, and it’s official: the Champions League beckons once again.