Roma still well short of European elite
11 December 2014, 14:38
Rome - AS Roma's premature Champions League exit, following Wednesday's home defeat to Manchester City, was a painful reminder that they are still well short of the European elite despite their domestic upturn in the last 18 months.
Last year's Serie A runners-up were dispatched to the less glamourous Europa League following a poor campaign in which they won only one match in six and were thumped 7-1 at home by Bayern Munich.
Although Roma president James Pallotta has been working hard to change their business methods in his two years at the club and has announced plans to build a new stadium, there is clearly a long way to go on the pitch.
"We have to improve the squad to reach this standard," said coach Rudi Garcia. "This is not our standard at the moment and that is normal when you take our revenue into account.
"(Manchester City) have more experience and maturity, but I have no regrets. The Europa League is also a high-level competition and we will try to go as far as possible.
"If we want to play the Champions League next year we have to play really well in Serie A and be ready to do this right from next Sunday."
Roma, second in Serie A and three points behind leaders Juventus, visit third-placed Genoa in their next league game on Sunday.
"I will try to and get this disappointment from the heads of my players and we'll take the championship as our number one goal," added Garcia.
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Roma's elimination leaves Juventus as Serie A's only representatives in the Champions League in what has become a sadly familiar scene for Italian football.
Italian clubs have not progressed beyond the quarter-finals in the last four seasons and their interest last term ended in the round of sixteen when AC Milan were thumped by Atletico Madrid.
Expectations have lowered so much that just having a chance to qualify on Wednesday was considered a bonus by Roma's players.
"Nobody thought we would still be in contention in the final game," said midfielder Radja Nainggolan.
"We did well to get to the final round of matches in a group against teams who have won everything," added Adem Ljajic.