Roma look very much a work in progress under Di Francesco on eve of season

Gab Marcotti previews the upcoming Serie A season with his predictions for the top four and the Scudetto winner.
Late second-half goals from Sergio Escudero and Nolito were enough for Sevilla to hold off Roma in their club friendly.

Turning over to the Italian Super Cup would have made for some sobering viewing for Romanisti on Sunday night. While their hapless second string were being slapped about the park by middling La Liga side Celta Vigo, city rivals Lazio were limbering up for what would turn out to be a spectacular, dramatic and eventually victorious curtain-raiser against Juventus.

As Lazio kicked off at the bubbling Stadio Olimpico, Roma were flailing around in front of less than 7,000 spectators, four goals down after an hour having made six changes at half-time in a desperate effort to save some kind of face from a preseason humiliation.

By the time Roma had walked off 4-1 losers, and fans switched over to check out the events in Rome, Ciro Immobile had just slotted the first of his brace from the penalty spot. The rest of the first half showed a compact, fiery and purposeful Biancoceleste team giving the reigning champions a terrible going over. The remaining 45 minutes — a proper ding dong in which Lazio threw away a two-goal lead in the final five minutes only to win it in the dying seconds of injury time, — showed a team ready for the coming season. That’s despite having lost midfield linchpin Lucas Biglia to AC Milan and having to deal with the ongoing Kieta Balde Diao soap opera, with the itchy-pants forward dropped against Juve as he agitates for a move to Turin.

The comparison with the pitiful display Roma offered up was stark, and although it is only August, it was only a friendly and coach Eusebio Di Francesco will probably never start that XI ever again — someone, eventually, will put Juan Iturbe out of his misery, right? With the new season now less than a week away Roma do not look like a team ready to…

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