01 November 1897
Finishing in Serie A’s top two in five of the last ten seasons, the last decade has seen Roma truly cement their status as perennial title challengers.
When on form, the club from the capital have the potential to be unstoppable as witnessed by their record-breaking ten game winning streak to open the 2013/14 season.
The man behind the pair of second place finishes in recent years was French manager Rudi Garcia. Following a playing career brought to a premature end through injury, Garcia turned his hand to management. After a variety of background roles at St.Etienne and a spell in punditry, he made his big break at Dijon, earning a promotion to Ligue 2 in 2003/04.
A brief stay at Le Mans followed before the Frenchman arrived at Lille in 2007 where he would establish himself as one of Europe’s most exciting young coaches, winning a domestic double and manager of the year in 2011.
Garcia’s arrival at the helm in 2013 has only solidified the Giallorossi’s position in the upper reaches of the table and he will hope his team can go one step further this season and emulate the Scudetto winning side of 2000/01.
A familiar face up front
Although much has changed at the club since that title win, one constant remains: the presence of Francesco Totti.
Offensive reinforcements this summer may have increased competition for places, but Totti will still have a key part to play for Garcia’s men as he seeks his last big milestone, a 300th goal in all competitions for the club.
Entering his 23rd year of service in Rome, the striker is the second all-time highest goalscorer in Serie A history behind ex-Juventus forward Silvio Piola.
After a 62-year stay in the Stadio OIimpico, shared with inter-city rivals Lazio, this season is Roma’s last at the historic arena, with a move to the new 55,000 purpose-built Stadio della Roma scheduled for the start of the 2016/17 season.
Their current home though hosts Juventus for the 82nd time on Sunday, and the Bianconeri will be keen to record a 26th win against the Romans in the capital and get their campaign up and running.
In both recent and more distant history, Juventus fans will have fond memories of this weekend’s venue, witnessing Coppa Italia success there just a couple of months ago as well as an unforgettable penalty shootout win over Ajax to win the club’s second Champions League title in 1996.
Home bow for 2015/16
This weekend’s encounter will be Roma’s first of the season in front of their home supporters, having kicked off their 2014/15 campaign with a 1-1 draw away at Hellas Verona.
Falling behind to Bosko Jankovic’s goal on the hour, the Giallorossi quickly responded five minutes later thanks to Alessandro Florenzi’s long-range effort.
Although Garcia’s charges could not produce a winning goal last time out, the high-profile Premier League arrivals of Bosnian target man Edin Dzeko from Manchester City and Egyptian winger Mohamed Salah, impressive on loan at Fiorentina last term, give the Frenchman a wealth of options in the final third.
As with last season, Garcia will look to the midfield talents of Miralem Pjanic, Radja Nainggolan and Daniele De Rossi to supply his revamped frontline with plenty of ammunition while ensuring last season’s runners-up continue to maintain their possession-based game.
Behind them, French international fullback Lucas Digne, signed from Paris Saint-Germain and Polish keeper Wojciech Szczesny, on loan from Arsenal, join a rearguard that only conceded 31 times last season, a league low behind Juventus (24).
Maintaining this defensive solidity while bettering last term’s tally of 58 goals, the lowest in the top six, will be on the agenda for Roma if they are to remain in the hunt for the Scudetto come May.