As Roma confirmed their astonishing revival this season by winning 1-0 at Fiorentina and securing second spot in Serie A and a place in the Champions League group stage on Saturday. Despite their record-breaking season Rudi Garcia’s side have had to play second fiddle to an all-conquering Juventus team on the verge of their third consecutive league title.
Roma’s win in Florence, which was decided by Radja Nianggolan’s neat 26th minute finish, was their 25th of the season, beating a club record set by Luciano Spalletti in 2008 when they were challenging Inter Milan for the title.
That season they finished on a club record 82 points but fell three points short on the final day. Garcia’s Roma are already on the same points total with four games left to play.
“It has been an extraordinary season, but we can still make it an exceptional one,” said Garcia. “Anything that comes now is a bonus.”
Roma, however, are still eight points behind relentless Juve, who beat Bologna 1-0 and are looking to become the first Serie A side to break the 100-point barrier as they march towards a 30th scudetto.
The addition of Carlos Tevez and Fernando Llorente in the off season strengthened an already dominant Juventus, with the pair combining to score 32 goals and add a directness that their front line had lacked in previous seasons under Antonio Conte.
“This season we have something more in terms of attack than in previous years,” Conte said. “It took time for Fernando Llorente to settle in and he brought a new dimension along with Carlos Tevez. Now we have two strikers who have scored in double figures.”
Fittingly Spalletti was at the Artemio Franchi Stadium to see his record broken. His tenure at the club ended like they tend to at Roma, with their petulant fans booing their own team and haranguing the players at their Trigoria training ground. Claudio Ranieri took over from Spalletti, with the team and club in turmoil, but he exuded confidence from the start and won the fans over.
Ranieri went even closer to the title, once again missing out on the last day to treble-winning Inter, who were then managed by Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho. Garcia’s initiation began in similar circumstances and the Frenchman looks determined to go one further.