Roma have made a perfect start to the season after earning a narrow 1-0 victory against Empoli on Saturday. The Giallorossi are now the joint leaders in the Serie A (along with Juventus) with six points, with no goals conceded so far.
Roma had the lion share of possession (58% – 42%) and could have won by a bigger margin, had they been more clinical (twice hitting the woodwork).
Roma’s midfielder Radja Nainggolan (signed permanently this season from Cagliari) impressed heavily in his second match as well. The Belgian scored in his debut against Fiorentina and was on target again yesterday, although the goal was accredited to the Empoli goalkeeper as he took the final touch.
Roma boast a strong midfield set up having players like De Rossi, Strootman, Pjanic et al. However, it is the former Cagliari midfielder who is making all the early impressions.
In Rudi Garcia’s 4-3-3 formation, Nainggolan plays on the central-left midfield (Strootman injured) along side Pjanic and De Rossi. While De Rossi is a natural defensive midfielder, his midfield partner Pjanic is more attacking minded. Nainggolan is a mixture of both and with his excellent work-rate provides a fine balance to this team.
With 72 passes (86% passing accuracy) and 84 touches (stats taken from WhoScored.com), he was one of the busiest players on pitch yesterday. Empoli were effective at creating goal scoring opportunities and had a high shot frequency when they were in control of possession. Roma midfielders had to put in a hard defensive shift, with Nainggolan keeping busy with 2 tackles and 3 interceptions.
Manchester United are heavily linked with Roma’s highly rated defensive midfielder Kevin Strootman and are rumoured to make a transfer bid for him in the January transfer window. The Red Devils need a good defensive midfielder no doubt, but they also lack a complete box-to-box midfielder as well. In case the Red Devils need one, they can watch Strootman’s team-mate who is making all the headlines in Italy at the moment.