Scudetto was always Roma's priority – Pjanic

The Bosnian has played down the significance of Wednesday’s 2-0 loss to Manchester City, claiming Rudi Garcia’s men primary objective is winning the Serie A title

Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic has insisted that the Scudetto was always the club’s priority following their midweek Champions League exit.

The Giallorossi were drawn in arguably the hardest group of the competition, alongside Bayern Munich, Manchester City and CSKA Moscow.

Despite going into the final matchday sitting second in the standings, Rudi Garcia’s men were eliminated after losing 2-0 at home to Manchester City, who thus progressed at the expense of their Italian hosts.

Pjanic, though, insists that he is not perturbed by Roma’s Champions League elimination, as he claims that the Serie A title race is the capital club’s primary concern this season.

“The Scudetto was always our priority,” the Bosnia-Herzegovina international told reporters. “It’s a shame about Wednesday but, as Rudi Garcia said, we have to forget what happened and go forward.

“Obviously we wanted to get through to the next round of the Champions League, but we didn’t manage it and now should concentrate on the Europa League.

“In any case, Serie A remains our real principle objective, as we are targeting the Scudetto. Now we have to finish well before the Christmas break, hoping to get six points so we can rest and recover well for 2015.”

Roma sit second in Serie A, three points behind reigning champions Juventus ahead of Sunday’s trip to third-placed Genoa.

Time to hit the Pjanic switch: how Roma can stop their season collapsing

COMMENT: With just four wins in their last 11 games, the Giallorossi face Inter on Sunday staring at the prospect of their domestic and European challenges falling by the wayside

By Kris Voakes | International Football Correspondent

After finishing a relatively close second in Serie A last season, Roma were expected to make great strides in 2014-15.

They added depth to their ranks in every department in the summer and set off like a train over the first month of the campaign. Five wins from five in the domestic league and a sensational 5-1 victory on their return to Champions League action against CSKA Moscow suggested they were ready to make that next step.

But in their 11 matches since that time, the Giallorossi have recorded only four wins and fallen to as many defeats. What’s more, they have scored just nine goals in the last eight games. Indeed, those struggles in the final third have helped to strangle their advances on both the top spot in Serie A and the qualification places for the last 16 of the Champions League.

While they sit only three points behind leaders Juventus domestically, they have looked off the pace and short of ideas in dropping unnecessary points in recent weeks. Inter, Manchester City and Milan are all due to come to the Olimpico before the Christmas break and a tricky trip to Genoa must also be negotiated, making for a testing three weeks ahead.

It is at this sort of time that Rudi Garcia needs to reassess the direction his side is taking.

The sparkle created by the incisive runs of Gervinho has been lost since that first month of the season. The form of playmaker Miralem Pjanic has taken a significant nosedive. As a result of such difficulties, goals have become a rare commodity for a team which dominates possession for long spells. And solutions must be found.

In the 4-3-3 formation which has become their trademark, much depends on Gervinho’s ability to get beyond defenders out wide. There is also a significant weight on the shoulders of Pjanic to find the key final pass to bisect the sturdy banks of four most teams have taken to placing in front of the Giallorossi.

But once the Ivorian is out of form, Roma are compromised. Moreover, Pjanic’s game seems to be affected every time he lines up with Seydou Keita. It is the Malian’s modus operandi to dominate all aspects of midfield play, and this has tended to step on the toes of his Bosnian team-mate.

Therefore, it may well be that the time is right to change shape to a 4-3-1-2 to give Pjanic more licence and relieve some of the pressure on Gervinho’s shoulders.

With Pjanic allowed to concentrate on picking holes in opposition defences and Keita given the opportunity to patrol the midfield alongside Daniele De Rossi without fear of taking from Pjanic’s game, Roma may have more structure back in their play. It would also mean more chances for Mattia Destro to start games alongside Francesco Totti or Adem Ljajic, rather than be used as a foil for the ageing skipper.

And Inter may well be the very best opponents against whom to trial such a system. Having just switched systems themselves since the return of Roberto Mancini as coach, Roma may well find success in stretching the two Nerazzurri centre-halves and creating space for Pjanic to work his magic in the final third.

More than anything, a change may well just freshen things up for the stuttering Giallorossi. The next three weeks will be crucial in the success or otherwise of their season. Failure to address their developing faults could prove fatal.

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Serie A Team of the Week: Tevez torments poor Parma

The best performers in the latest round of Italian league action are recognised by Goal in our all-star XI

The top two teams in Italy spent their weekends boosting their goal difference, but elsewhere around the peninsula there was a plethora of performances worthy of inclusion in the Goal Team of the Week for round 11 in Serie A.

Orestis Karnezis is selected behind a 4-2-4 formation following his wonderful performance for Udinese against Palermo. It was thanks to the Greek that his side took a point from Sicily, saving Franco Vazquez’s second-half penalty and stopping a string of other fine efforts from the home side.

The back four begins with the goalscoring workhorse that was Stephan Lichtsteiner in Juventus’ huge win over Parma, and he’s joined by Empoli hero Daniele Rugani. The young centre-back was imperious in the 2-1 victory against Lazio, keeping out Michael Ciani with one superb challenge. Kalidou Koulibaly helped Napoli beat Fiorentina away from home with a towering display, keeping out Manuel Pasqual’s effort with a goal-line clearance, too. Our left-back spot is taken up by Mario Rui, who kept Lazio’s Antonio Candreva quiet and supplied an excellent assist for Massimo Maccarone to bag Empoli’s second goal.

Our two-man midfield sees Seydou Keita recognised for his all-round superb showing at the heart of Roma’s 3-0 victory against Torino, with team-mate Miralem Pjanic also receiving a call thanks to his return to form which saw him play a part in goals for Keita and Adem Ljajic.

A fantastic four of strikers leads our all-conquering XI, Sergio Pellissier marking a rare start with two goals in Chievo’s win over Cesena to grab the first position. Paulo Dybala was a lively figure from start to finish for Palermo, grabbing one goal from the spot and forcing a number of saves out of Udinese’s Karnezis at the Renzo Barbera. Meanwhile, the final two slots are taken by Juventus’ starting strikers: Fernando Llorente and Carlos Tevez snatched two goals each as Parma were demolished 7-0 in Turin, ending a poor run for the Spaniard whilst continuing a fine series of displays by the irrepressible Argentine. And as for that length-of-the-field goal… Wow!

Pjanic: I rejected a transfer to Bayern Munich

EXCLUSIVE: Ahead of Roma’s trip to the Allianz Arena, the gifted midfielder has revealed that he turned down the chance to join the reigning Bundesliga champions at the age of 18

By Jasmin Ligata

Roma midfielder Miralem Pjanic has revealed that he was close to joining Bayern Munich in the summer of 2008, but he eventually opted to move to Olympique Lyonnais instead.

The Bosnia-Herzegovina star was one of Europe’s most sought-after youngsters at the time following an impressive 2007-08 campaign with Metz.

Bayern were one of the teams looking to lure him to the Bundesliga, but the midfielder felt he wasn’t ready for a move abroad.

“I went to Munich to discuss a transfer with Bayern when I was 18,” the creative midfielder told Goal.

“It’s not that anything went wrong, but I simply decided that Olympique Lyonnais would be a better option for me in the end.

“I don’t think I was ready for a club as big as Bayern at the time, so I decided to stay in France. I already knew the language and people knew me, so Lyon were the best option.

“And I don’t have any regrets over that decision. It was the right move at the time.”

Pjanic enjoyed two fine seasons with Lyon before then joining Roma in the summer of 2010, where he has since developed into an important first-team member.

The 24-year-old then went on to discuss Wednesday’s Champions League encounter with Bayern at the Allianz Arena and stressed that Roma are determined to make amends for their 7-1 home defeat two weeks ago.

“I would be happy with a draw in Munich. I am convinced that a result like the 7-1 defeat will never happen again,” he stated.

“We went through something similar to Brazil at the World Cup. This week’s game will be much closer, though.

“We are not really talking about revenge, but getting a point would leave us in a good position to qualify for the knockout stages. The game against Manchester City is the most important one for us.”

Roma currently sit second in Group E with four points from three games.

Suarez is the biggest Ballon d'Or injustice, say Goal readers

More than half the voters believe the former Liverpool ace should have been named on the 23-man initial shortlist for the award, with Luka Modric coming second

Luis Suarez is the most glaring omission from the 23-man initial shortlist to win the Fifa Ballon d’Or, according to Goal readers.

Eyebrows were raised on Tuesday when the list of nominees for the game’s greatest individual prize were announced as Suarez – who won the PFA Player of the Year award as he inspired Liverpool to a second-placed finish – was left out.

Goal readers were similarly aghast at the decision not to include the Barcelona striker, with 53.9 per cent believing that the Uruguayan’s omission was the biggest injustice – over half of the overall vote.

Luka Modric came second in our poll, with 19.3% of readers saying the Real Madrid midfielder can count himself most unlucky to have missed out on a place after helping his side to Copa del Rey and Champions League glory.

Borussia Dortmund star Marco Reus appears in third with 7.3% of the votes, just ahead of Juventus and Chile midfielder Arturo Vidal, who earned 5.2%.

Robert Lewandowski finished fifth in our poll, just a fraction ahead of Arsenal’s Aaron Ramsey, who seemed destined to earn the chance to battle for the game’s top individual honour until injury curtailed his year.

Atletico Madrid defender Diego Godin earned just 2.5% of the votes, ahead of Roma star Miralem Pjanic (1.1%) and Ivan Rakitic (0.9%). Finally, 1.7% of readers believe another name in world football deserved a place in the 23.

Take a look at the shortlist for the 2014 Fifa Ballon d’Or in full here.