A huge part of Roma's success this season has been how well each player has fulfilled their role in Rudi Garcia's 4-3-3, where the fullbacks contribute to the attack while not leaving the defense totally left open, and the wingers stretch the park to allow the midfielders to fill in space behind them. Based on opposition, injuries, or suspensions, however, that formation may not be the best option. Here's how Roma might look under three other very common formations in Serie A.
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Morgan De Sanctis
Douglas Maicon, Medhi Benatia, Leandro Castan, Dodo
Miralem Pjanic, Daniele De Rossi
Gervinho, Francesco Totti, Alessandro Florenzi
One of the few alternative formations used this season -- if not the only one Garcia has used apart from his 4-3-3 -- the 4-2-3-1 proved a massive success against Catania on match-day 17. Part of it was down to how poor Catania have been this season, but the shift successfully covered the absence of De Rossi and Kevin Strootman by playing an extra forward and slotting in Michael Bradley alongside Pjanic. In this version, De Rossi alongside Pjanic would be a stronger pivot, keeping the Bosnian in a regista role, similar to the one David Pizarro played under Luciano Spalletti. Gervinho and Florenzi's running could track back and help the side defend while keeping the width that Garcia loves to exploit, which is why I opted for them instead of Adem Ljajic here, though it should be noted that the Ljajic had one of his best games of the season in the same 4-2-3-1 against Catania.
When to use? Ideally against weaker opposition; don't fix what ain't broke with the 4-3-3 against the bigger teams when midfielders are suspended.
Benatia, De Rossi, Castan
Maicon, Radja Nainggolan, Pjanic, Kevin Strootman, Vasilis Torosidis
This is perhaps the biggest of all gambles for Roma; a formation that divides the fantastic defense and offense into unfamiliar shapes. At the back, De Rossi can deputize as a center-back when need be, and Maicon/Torosidis are better defensively than Dodo/Michel Bastos. The real issue here just might be that there are too many players in the middle of the pitch, given Totti's tendency to drop deep; when Gervinho gallops on the counter, he may have no one to aid him unless Strootman, Pjanic or Nainggolan race forward as well.
When to use? Realistically, we may never see this formation used by this current Roma, but in matches where dominating possession is key against defenses that might crumble against Gervinho's pace, it may be a good option.
Gervinho, Strootman, De Rossi, Michel Bastos
Pros: Well, a 4-4-2 would certainly allow the defense to stay as is; otherwise, not a whole lot is to be gained. The 4-2-3-1 only has two midfielders as well but provides a better balance and another line of players for movement and dropping in to occur. Even in the case of suspension, Gervinho/Bastos would have to track back quite a bit to not leave the fullbacks isolated defensively. Totti and Destro, meanwhile, might struggle if paired up directly, and too much of the creative burden falls on the captain. The 4-4-2 has fallen out of favor in recent years and it's not terribly difficult to see why: it can be easy to bypass the midfield and strikers entirely with other systems that play between the rigid lines.
When to use? Almost never. Though it used to be a popular option, it's one for which this Roma team is just not built.