Fresh off the back of a nail-biting 1-0 win over Torino in their Serie A opener last week, Roma play host to Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta on Monday night.
The Giallorossi are now in for their first home test – a proper one it might be added – and will be hoping their summer recruit Steven N’Zonzi will be fit to make his Calcio bow and help Roma grab another three points. The former Sevilla star is one of the high-profile players Roma brought in this summer as the Monchi model is slowly taking shape at the Stadio Olimpico.
Sculpting the Monchi Model
Giallorossi are starting to assume the distinctive form of a club Monchi previously worked at: Sevilla. The scouting and recruitment policy he successfully implemented at his former club revolves around nurturing top talent with one eye on profit. Heading into his second year in the Italian capital, Monchi is turning Roma into a business where financial growth goes hand in hand with aiming towards results – however hard it may look like from the standpoint of any overbearing Juventus fan.
Spending money to spread happiness is not Monchi’s modus operandi. With the 2017/18 Serie A season in rearview the former Manchester City maverick Aleksandar Kolarov stands as the biggest proof that an idea of heavy investing is not necessarily the wisest one.
Serbia’s captain joined Roma on a free transfer and made a seamless transition back to Serie A under the guidance of Eusebio Di Franchesco. The experienced left-back was voted the Signing of the Season by Roma supporters and his Twelve numbers confirm Giallorossi made a great choice.
While a defender by nature, Aleksandar Kolarov has always had a penchant for going forward. His style turned out to be a perfect fit for Di Franchesco’s model which allowed the Serbian to burst forward at every opportunity. Kolarov emerged as the undisputed leader on Roma’s attack leader board across their Champions League campaign.
His total of 6,320 points put Kolarov in front of Diego Perotti – who is a major doubt for the Atalanta clash – with 5,739 points according to Twelve’s algorithm.
Cristiano Ronaldo joining Juventus might have single-handedly ruined all of the great work Monchi did at Roma during the last 12 months. However, by selling their most prized assets – Alisson Becker and Radja Nainggolan – along with the likes of Lukasz Skorupski, Juan Iturbe and Marco Tumminello, the Italian giants generated a cool €120 million to be reinvested wisely and prudently.
Adding Class on Top of Youth
Steven N’Zonzi leads the line of summer arrivals together with Javier Pastore, Bryan Cristante, Davide Santon, Robin Olsen, Ante Coric and Justin Kluivert, who grabbed the headlines with a remarkable cameo performance in his Serie A debut last week.
The 19-year-old Dutchman made quite an impact by setting up Edin Dzeko for an 89th-minute winner at Torino, announcing himself as a potentially vital player for Di Francesco this season. The former Ajax starlet came on for last season’s wonder boy Cengiz Under and made great use of his 20 minutes on the pitch. Di Francesco opted to kick off the 2018/19 season in a neat 4-3-3 with Pastore and Olsen being the only two new players to make it into the starting line-up.
Roma are hoping Steven N’Zonzi will reach full fitness in time for Monday. Adding further class on top of the youth-laden side, the Frenchman is one of the newbies who could be given the opportunity to shine against Atalanta.
The former Sevilla star had an exhausting World Cup campaign with Les Bleus. Di Franchesco gave him a chance to prove his fitness in the ‘Mapei’ test this week, alongside Kolarov, Fazio and Zaniolo, and Corriere della Sera reports he will be fit to make his bow.
The 29-year-old midfielder played 168 minutes as his team lifted the World Cup in Russia. A modest playing time did not prevent him from doing what he does best; helping his team achieve defensive balance and supporting the attack-oriented players which France boasts in abundance.
His aerial presence is certain to make a great difference for Roma this season. Strong on the ball and with a keen eye for a pass, Steven N’Zonzi is expected to be a supplement to attack-minded offset and a calming presence in the centre of the park.
As Roma prepare to welcome Atalanta to their 56th Serie A clash at the Stadio Olimpico, N’Zonzi could prove to be the catalyst in achieving what is expected to be Roma’s 35th home win over the Orobici in the league.