Nemanja Matic, not Paulo Dybala, is the signing that will provide the biggest boost to a Roma side who should be looking to push Inter for the Serie A title this season, according to former Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.

While Roma's sixth-placed finish in Italy's top flight last term was nothing out of the ordinary, Jose Mourinho did lead the club to success in the inaugural Europa Conference League.

Overall, the season provided a solid foundation for Mourinho and Roma to build on, and they have enjoyed a promising transfer window as they prepare for the new campaign.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Mile Svilar and Zeki Celik all add depth to the squad, while Paulo Dybala arrived on a free transfer after his Juventus contract expired – the Argentinian's signing galvanised the fanbase and has been seen as a real statement of intent for the season to come.

Yet while Dybala may have attracted most of the focus, Capello – who spent time at Roma as a player and coach – thinks Matic may be an even shrewder acquisition after the experienced Serbian joined on a free from Manchester United to work under Mourinho for the third time.

Asked if he liked the signing of Dybala for Roma, Capello told Il Mattino: "Sure, who doesn't like him?

"But Mourinho's real shot is there in the middle, and it's Matic. He's impressive, few know how to dam the middle of the field like he does.

"Obviously Roma cannot hide [not play proactively], but I don't think, given the enthusiasm, that they think of doing that."

Roma have not won the Scudetto since the 2000-01 season, which was their first title success in 18 years.

Capello is not getting carried away and suggesting they are the frontrunners, but he does expect it to be the Giallorossi and Milan presenting the biggest challenge to Inter.

"It will be fun. I see a very balanced Serie A, a bit like last year, although the balances may still change based on market operations this month," he continued. "But, for example, Roma is there [as a challenger], with intelligent operations.

"Inter are always a step ahead. Roma and Milan are the ones that seem to me already complete, and that's a plus.

"Juventus live with [Paul] Pogba's injury and there is a risk that he could play with the handbrake pulled due to the injury, fearing he could miss the World Cup in Qatar.

"And also Napoli is there in the running for a place in the Champions League."

Roma begin their campaign away to Salernitana on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola has no excuse not to win the Champions League with Manchester City given Erling Haaland's talent, according to Fabio Capello.

City were Premier League champions last season but again came up short in Europe, losing to eventual winners Real Madrid in the semi-finals.

The perennial league winners are still waiting on their first taste of glory in the Champions League, which Guardiola himself has not won since 2011.

Widely considered one of the greatest coaches in the modern game, Guardiola's failure to deliver success in Europe's elite club competition has regularly been used as a source of criticism.

And Capello – a European champion as Milan coach in 1994 – now believes City must succeed this season.

New superstar striker Haaland marked his Premier League debut with two goals in a win at West Ham, and Capello spotted the final piece of the City jigsaw.

"This year there is a favourite for me: Manchester City," the ex-England manager told Il Mattino. "There is no race.

"They finally have a powerful centre-forward in Haaland. He has power and speed.

"I saw the match against West Ham and I realised that this time Guardiola has no excuse: he has to win the Champions League.

"Even if, in the end, they'll tell him that he [only] won the Champions League first with [Lionel] Messi and then with Haaland."

Fabio Capello has compared Paulo Dybala to Roma legend Francesco Totti but believes the Argentine's new strike partner Tammy Abraham has some way to go before he reaches the level of Gabriel Batistuta.

Capello was in charge of Roma when they last won the Scudetto in the 2000-01 season, with Batistuta and Totti netting a total of 33 Serie A goals (Batistuta 20, Totti 13) as they edged out Juventus in a thrilling title race.

With Jose Mourinho having delivered the Europa Conference League trophy during his first season in the Italian capital last term, hopes are high the Giallorossi could mount a serious domestic challenge this time around.

The acquisitions of Dybala, Georginio Wijnaldum and Nemanja Matic have seen Roma tipped for a title push in some quarters, with Abraham also expected to kick on after scoring 17 goals in his first Serie A campaign.

Capello, who last month said Dybala's arrival from Juventus could shift the balance in Serie A, thinks Roma's new signing could prove as influential as the club's all-time top goalscorer Totti.

"Football evolves all the time," Capello told La Gazzetta dello Sport. "But if it's a game I tell you that the Argentine has the touch of the ball, the ability to find a partner and the ease of scoring that Francesco had."

 

However, Capello says Abraham has plenty of work to do in order to be considered in the same category as Argentine great Batistuta, who scored 30 Serie A goals during a two-and-a-half season spell in Rome between 2000 and 2003.

"Let's take it easy," Capello added. "Gabriel was a professor of the penalty area. The sense of goal he possessed has been had by few players in the world. 

"Abraham is certainly more mobile, but we are on another level for the moment."

Meanwhile, Roma's transfer activity has left Capello believing they are among the favourites to win Serie A in the 2022-23 season, as he claimed only Simone Inzaghi's Inter are clearly superior to Mourinho's team.

"The Giallorossi can no longer hide," he added. "Only Inter, with [Milan] Skriniar, can be superior to them. [Comparisons to] Juve and Milan are already valid."

Roma begin their Serie A campaign with a trip to Salernitana on August 14.

Roma's potential acquisition of Paulo Dybala can shift the balance in Serie A and make Jose Mourinho's men Scudetto contenders, according to former Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.

Having left Juventus as a free agent when his contract expired at the end of June, Dybala was strongly linked to Inter and Napoli, but now appears set to join Mourinho's Europa Conference League winners.

With reports on Monday suggesting Dybala was close to joining Roma, the Argentina international arrived in Portugal, where the side are holding a pre-season training camp, for his medical.

Dybala scored 82 goals in 210 Serie A appearances for the Bianconeri after arriving from Palermo in 2015, including 25 from outside the penalty area, more than any other player has managed during that time in the competition.

Among current Roma players, captain Lorenzo Pellegrini's nine is the highest such tally, and Dybala's imminent move has led to suggestions the Giallorossi could better last season's sixth-placed league finish.

Asked by Il Messaggero whether the Argentine's arrival could shift the balance at the top of Serie A, Capello responded: "I would say yes. He is a great player, one of those who make the difference. 

"[He can] raise the level of the team and change something in Serie A, because Roma are now in the group of favourites.

"If Mourinho calls you himself, it becomes really difficult to say no."

 

Capello led Roma to the most recent of their three Serie A titles in 2000-01, edging out Juventus by just two points in a tense title race.

The legendary tactician believes there are likenesses between Mourinho's side and his Scudetto winners, adding: "The comparison is plausible. I see many similarities. 

"I think that Mourinho, as happened to me in that season, will try to guarantee balance in a team with enormous offensive potential. 

"Roma, after all, was doomed to attack; we had Cafu and [Vincent] Candela outside. I needed some cover."

Stefano Pioli and Jose Mourinho confirmed their status as Serie A's best coaches by leading Milan and Roma to silverware last season, according to former Rossoneri and Giallorossi boss Fabio Capello.

Capello also claimed Inter's prospective move for Romelu Lukaku represents a "blow" for the rest of the Italian top flight, given his dominant displays during his successful first spell with the Nerazzurri. 

While Pioli became the first Milan boss to win the Scudetto since Massimiliano Allegri in 2010-11 last month, Mourinho ended Roma's 14-year trophy drought by winning the Europa Conference League in his first season with the club.

Capello, who led Milan to four Serie A titles in five seasons between 1991 and 1996 before masterminding Roma's most recent Scudetto triumph in 2000-01, hailed the duo's achievements as he declared next season will be make-or-break for many of the division's other top coaches. 

"The best? Pioli and Mourinho," he told Il Messaggero. 

"The first brought Milan back to success, the second confirmed himself as an international coach. Jose achieved a very important success. 

"[Juventus coach] Allegri, [Lazio's Maurizio] Sarri and [Napoli's Luciano] Spalletti paid for their return to Serie A. They were granted a transitional season. Now will be the moment of truth."

Meanwhile, with Inter reportedly set to re-sign Lukaku less than a year after his club-record £97.5million move to Chelsea, a series of Italian football's biggest names have spoken about his expected impact.

Milan legend Alessandro Costacurta said on Sunday the deal would make Inter title favourites, while Gianfranco Zola claimed the Belgian will make a "huge impact" for Simone Inzaghi's men after he scored 30 goals for the Nerazzurri in the 2020-21 campaign.

Capello concurred with those views, adding: "Lukaku is a great blow because in Italy, no one is able to mark him because of his excessive physical power."

However, while Milan are expected to work with a smaller budget than their rivals as they look to defend their crown, Capello hailed their recruitment policy and revealed his confidence that they can compete once more.

"I don't put my mouth on the market because these topics are the responsibility of the coaches," he added. 

"The experience of recent years leads me, however, to say that we must have confidence. At Milan, they have learned how to handle things, and they know how to choose [players]."

Paulo Dybala should have demanded a one-year contract to prove his worth to Juventus if he was happy in Turin, according to former Bianconeri boss Fabio Capello.

Argentina international Dybala is set to see his time at the Allianz Stadium comes to its conclusion when his contract expires at the end of the season.

The forward has 113 goals across all competitions for Juve, ranking him third all-time among the club’s non-Italian scorers, behind only David Trezeguet (171) and John Hansen (124).

Fellow Serie A competitors Inter and Premier League side Tottenham, managed by former Nerazzurri coach Antonio Conte, are reportedly among the favourites to secure Dybala's signature for the next campaign.

But Capello believes if the 28-year-old was settled at Juve then he should have pleaded with the club for another chance, while he heaped praise on Massimiliano Allegri's new star striker Dusan Vlahovic.

"I like Vlahovic, he has pace, physical strength and desire to improve," he told Italian outlet Corriere dello Sport. "He knows how to work for the team and stay inside the box.

"But Max [Allegri] is right when he says that he must learn how to play in a top club, managing the pressure and the different phases in a game.

"You can't question Dybala technically, but he has had some fitness issues. If he was happy in Turin, he should have challenged Juventus. Ask them for a one-year contract and show how much he's worth.

"The same goes for [Roma forward Nicolo] Zaniolo. He suffered two serious injuries and remained out for 18 months. He must rediscover self-confidence because he has the technical skills."

 

Capello also expressed his concern for the state of Italian football, with the Azzurri missing out on two straight World Cups and no Serie A side in the Champions League quarter-finals.

Roma and Atalanta are the only two Italian sides left in the Europa League, and former England manager Capello believes Italy are way behind their international competitors.

"Italian football is far behind the others. The ball doesn't move quickly, referees blow the whistle too often," he added. "They stop the play too frequently. Every challenge is a foul, so there is never intensity, our teams do not learn to keep up the pace.

"We have fallen behind, in every sense, but the main problem is that the best players no longer come to Italy, so there is no comparison with the best. 

"I don't learn anything if what should help me grow is of the same level as me, has my same knowledge, identical experiences"

Allegri acknowledged his reluctance to use young players in an interview on Friday, and the preference to utilise more experienced players is a problem thought to spread across the whole of the Italian game.

Capello expects no quick fixes as he cited the progression of other countries to learn from.

"Even eight. In Italy, everyone intervenes," he responded when asked if it would take five or six years to return Italy to the top of the footballing pyramid.

"As for youth sectors, those in charge should have a trip to Spain where they work on the technique, not on tactics."

Fabio Capello believes Italy's failure to qualify for back-to-back World Cups is due to a national obsession with following Pep Guardiola's Barcelona blueprint.

Former Milan, Real Madrid, Juventus and Roma boss Capello claims Italian football should have been following the German 'heavy metal' model rather than copying the more intricate noodling of the Spanish style of play.

Capello, who also coached Russia and England, cannot see why Italy would go against their great strengths by trying to match the high technical levels of Spain.

He told Sky Sport Italia: "The explanation is very simple. I have been saying for a long time that we are copying Guardiola's football of 15 years ago."

The 75-year-old Capello said this meant "all sideways passing, no verticality, little physical strength".

Guardiola built a Barcelona team on a possession-based game that was full of nuance, with players drilled to understand and adhere to its intricacies, and they became arguably the greatest club side of all time.

Capello does not see Italian players having the skill set to follow such a formula for success.

"Instead we should follow Klopp's model, a German-style football," Capello said.

Italy won the delayed Euro 2020 tournament last year, beating England on penalties in the Wembley final, but a 1-0 play-off semi-final defeat to North Macedonia on Thursday knocked them out of contention to qualify for the World Cup in Qatar.

Roberto Mancini's team had 564 passes to 309 by North Macedonia, owning 65.4 per cent of possession, and led the shot count 32-4, only to be stunned by a stoppage-time goal from the visitors in Palermo.

The Azzurri will be spectators from a distance for the tournament in November and December, having also missed out on the Russia 2018 finals.

"Macedonia on a physical level were superior to us in terms of dynamism, strength and determination," Capello said. "It is all clear: until we understand that the model to be copied is the German one, we will not move forward, because if we want to do it like the Spaniards, who have a superior technique, we will never be able to do it, we always do it at 50 per cent."

Capello said the Italian team to take heed of the German example were Atalanta, whose results showed it had benefits. They sit fifth in Serie A, having finished third last season, and are through to the Europa League quarter-finals.

"In Europe we play at a different pace, and we are not used to it," Capello said. "At the base there is this wrong idea of ​​football. We are the country of passing back to the goalkeeper."

Fabio Capello claimed former side England have a "monkey on their back and then fail" when it comes to finals.

Gareth Southgate's men reached their first major final in 55 years at Euro 2020, but lost on penalties as Italy claimed their first European Championship since 1968.

England have enjoyed relative success in September's World Cup qualifiers, crushing Hungary and Andorra 4-0 before conceding a late equaliser to draw 1-1 with Poland.

In the latter game, Southgate opted to not make any substitutions – the first time the Three Lions have done so since the Euro 1996 semi-final against Germany.

And Capello believes there is a reason for the England manager's lack of substitutes in Warsaw after heartbreak in the Euro 2020 final two months ago.

"If [Southgate] doesn't make subs it means he wants this group to be convinced to be strong, as the results proved," Capello, who managed England for five years until 2012, told reporters.

"Bear in mind, they have just botched half a match versus Italy in the final, when they were overwhelmed by fear and stopped playing.

"I know England and their problems. They have that monkey on their back to get to the final and then they fail."

England are unbeaten in their last 16 international matches (W13 D3) – their longest streak without defeat since a 16-game run between September 1995 and November 1996.

While international teams pursue qualification for Qatar 2022, FIFA's chief of global football development, Arsene Wenger, is pushing a biennial plan for future World Cups.

The former Arsenal manager's proposition, which was put to FIFA in May, would see global football's most important tournament switch to a two-year cycle.

UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin greeted the suggestions with disdain, but Capello revealed he would support the proposed changes as a player.

"As a player, I would like the World Cup to be played every two years," the 75-year-old Italian continued.

"Four years is a long time and sometimes you are at the top of your game but when the World Cup comes you are not and you have no chance to shine.

"At the same time, waiting four years makes that trophy more coveted and important, it is bigger.

"Every two years, this value would decrease but again, as a player, I played the World Cup just once, and the second time I missed it for the width of a hair, so I would [play every two years]."

Fabio Capello labelled Juventus' display in their 3-0 loss to Milan "embarrassing" as the pressure continues to grow on head coach Andrea Pirlo.

Juve's first home league defeat at the hands of Milan since March 2011 leaves them fifth in Serie A and a point off the Champions League spots with three games to go.

Brahim Diaz opened the scoring for the visitors on the brink of half-time and Ante Rebic added a second 12 minutes from time after Franck Kessie had a penalty saved.

Fikayo Tomori rounded off the scoring late on at the Allianz Stadium in a game in which Juve managed only one shot on target across the 90 minutes.

It is the third time in five games they have failed to test the opposition keeper before half-time, with Alvaro Morata and Cristiano Ronaldo touching the ball once in the penalty area between them during the first 45 minutes.

At the opposite end of the field, the Bianconeri have conceded goals in each of their past 11 Serie A games, which is their worst streak since April 2010.

While Capello does not believe Milan deserve any special praise for their performance in Turin, he has questioned whether Juve can currently be classed as an elite club.

"What we saw from Juventus was embarrassing," he told Sky Sport Italia. "In the first half they did not exist. It was the same against Udinese last week. 

"They were without ideas and Milan did their part, without having to do difficult things. Juventus tried to press but without aggression and never managed to recover the ball. 

"In the first half there was a huge amount of wrong passes. Watching the game, I had to ask, 'are these Super League teams?'. 

"The second half was a bit better. Milan's goals unlocked the game and Juve woke up after the missed penalty, but not enough. Gianluigi Donnarumma made only one save."

Having missed out on the Scudetto for the first time in a decade, Juve now risk failing to qualify for the Champions League for the first time since 2010-11.

Pirlo insisted after his side's sixth league loss of the season that he has no intention of stepping down, with club officials reportedly discussing his future on Monday.

Capello, who both played for and managed Juventus, believes Pirlo has to take responsibility for confusing his players with a change of system.

"Juventus' problems are in midfield. Ronaldo did not have the service and [Giorgio] Chiellini is the only player who played some throughballs," he said.

"It should not possible that Chiellini is the key man in midfield. There has been confusion from the beginning – they started with a three-man defence then changed.

"The players feel the coach does not have clear ideas. They smell the situation and find it difficult to follow him. Juventus need a clear direction to improve."

Juve are back in action on Wednesday with a trip to Sassuolo.

Neymar and Kylian Mbappe left Fabio Capello cold with their performances for Paris Saint-Germain against Manchester City.

Italian coaching great Capello sees little prospect of a PSG comeback in the second leg of the Champions League semi-final, after City snatched a 2-1 win at Parc des Princes.

The Ligue 1 giants took a 15th-minute lead through captain Marquinhos, but Kevin De Bruyne's cross bounced beyond Keylor Navas and into the corner just after the hour mark to put City level.

The PSG defensive wall then cracked to allow Riyad Mahrez to score from a free-kick seven minutes later.

Neymar had two shots in the first 15 minutes, which both hit the target, but Mbappe did not have a single goal attempt.

Neither reached the heights they are capable of scaling, leading former Milan and Real Madrid boss Capello to wonder why they were so underwhelming.

"There were two of the favourites to win the Ballon d'Or on the pitch and they weren't filled with enthusiasm," Capello told Sky Sport Italia.

"We thought we were going to see fireworks and instead they just showed a lot of tension towards the opponent. I expected more from Mbappe and Neymar.

"The Champions League is not only about beauty, but it is also a competition in which small incidents count for a lot.

"City won with two strokes of luck. Firstly, the very serious error by Navas on De Bruyne's cross, then the bad luck PSG had on the second goal with the ball passing right through the hole in the wall."

The outcome meant PSG lost after leading at half-time in the Champions League for the first time since March 2001, when they were beaten 4-3 by Deportivo La Coruna in an epic game.

PSG were 3-0 in front early in the second half of that game but folded.

Twenty years on from that match, PSG will hope that City's lead in their last-four tie can be whittled away in the second leg next Tuesday.

Yet Capello reasoned that PSG "are unlikely to overturn" their deficit against Pep Guardiola's team, adding: "When City play calmly, they are difficult to beat."

Cristiano Ronaldo has been criticised by Fabio Capello for an "unforgivable mistake" as Juventus were eliminated from the Champions League by Porto.

The Old Lady were dumped out of Europe's elite competition on Tuesday as their 3-2 victory after extra-time in Turin saw Porto qualify for the quarter-finals on away goals with the tie level at 4-4 on aggregate.

On a rollercoaster night at Allianz Stadium, Juve were left with an uphill battle after Sergio Oliveira's 19th-minute penalty had Porto 3-1 up in the tie, before a brace from Federico Chiesa early in the second half initially spared the hosts.

That was enough to take the game to extra-time – Mehdi Taremi's sending off in the 54th minute seemingly giving Andrea Pirlo's men the edge – but an Oliveira free-kick made it 2-2 on the day and gave Juve too much to do despite Adrien Rabiot's header two minutes later.

Oliveira's decisive strike went straight through the Juve wall, with the ball going between Ronaldo's legs as he sheepishly turned his back on the effort, and former Bianconeri boss Capello was infuriated.

"Cristiano Ronaldo then cannot go in the wall like this," he told Sky Sport Italia.

"Whoever is in the wall should not be afraid of the ball, but they must be aware that they can be hit by it.

"He turned around and this is an unforgivable mistake that has no excuses. It was a very serious mistake."

Capello then castigated the so-called leaders in the Juve dressing room, pointing the finger at them for not coming out to face the media and explain themselves, with Chiesa and Matthijs de Ligt the individuals who took part in post-match duties.

"At certain moments the captain and the elders have to show their faces," he said. "Instead they sent Chiesa. They [the "elders"] showed up when they won the games."

Elimination left Andrea Pirlo's tenure with a poor outlook only worsened by their fortunes in Serie A, with the defending champions 10 points adrift of leaders Inter – even if they win their game in hand, the Old Lady will have a significant gap to claw back.

Capello now suspects the Juve hierarchy regret ushering Massimiliano Allegri out the door in 2019.

"The much-maligned Allegri won championships and made two Champions League finals and what he did was never highlighted," Capello continued.

"It was said that there was a need for a different brand of football, but when you try to do different things you often go towards things that are not always pleasant and positive."

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