Giallorossi | Part 7 | Cristiano Ronaldo Retires In Style

At the ripe old age of 39, Cristiano Ronaldo was still terrorising Serie A defences, including a clinical hat-trick against his former club Juventus. But as 2024 was drawing to a close, the striker announced his intention to retire from playing football at the end of the season.

We were intent on giving Ronaldo the best send-off possible by giving him plenty of minutes. We also had six months for Ronaldo to inspire exciting 19-year-old striker Matías García, who’d returned from his loan spell with Independiente after signing for £4m 12 months ago.

Having been booted into the playoff path of the strange new Champions League format, 90% of our eggs were now in the Serie A basket. But before that, we kicked off the new year with a chance to add more silverware against Milan in the Italian Super Cup. But we were pretty inept in a 2-0 defeat, despite obviously having more shots!

Serie A defence continues

We came into 2025 with a six-point lead at the top of the table. We first welcomed Verona to town and the boys were still on their Christmas breaks, as we trailed 3-0 after 42 minutes! I obviously threw the water bottles at half-time and it got the desired response as we were level within 11 minutes of the restart thanks to Nicoló Barella a Tammy Abraham brace. I kept pushing the guys forward and we got our reward as Abraham wrapped up his hat-trick with a vicious finish, to seal an incredible 4-3 victory!

A defence that had been rock solid for 18 months suddenly looked shaky as we lost 3-2 at Atalanta and had Barella and homegrown midfielder Giacomo Faticanti sent off. But a clean sheet followed as winger Roony Bardghji, who’d been developing very nicely, properly announced himself with a brace to down bottom side Salernitana 3-0. We then ran riot at Pisa with Abraham bagging a brace and Ronaldo doing the same off the bench in a 5-0 win.

Abraham was back in supreme form, bagging a hat-trick in a 3-1 win over Cagliari then going one better with four in the first half of a 5-1 hammering of Genoa, including this bizarre third goal! That took us into a huge top vs. second clash with Milan in fine form, which showed as Abraham teed up Barella for the opener after eight minutes then smashed home a second 20 minutes later. Milan didn’t even have a shot in the first half and couldn’t stop us from racking up a dominant 3-0 win. And that opened up a 12-point lead after 23 games.

Abraham bagged a perfect hat-trick at Torino to move past 30 for the season and 14 in his last six games! We dropped points at Udinese but three consecutive home games started with a 5-0 win over Brescia as Ronaldo scored a brace off the bench to reach 25 goals for the season. A 3-0 win over Bologna was followed by a tighter clash with Sassuolo, which turned on an outrageous assist from Bardghji to Abraham, who returned the favour with a naughty rabona assist, and we won 3-0 again. That opened up a massive 16-point gap at the top going into the final 10 games.

Champions League knockout playoff round

We drew Bayern in what is effectively a two-legged playoff tie to reach the final 16 of the Champions League. The two games flanked the huge Milan clash so, probably foolishly, I decided to rotate and test out using a low block. It started well as García stabbed home his first goal for the club after 18 minutes then Endrick fully announced himself by doing this to Manuel Neuer! But Bayern predictably came back to win 3-2. They battered us in Germany but Ronaldo, two weeks after his 40th birthday, managed to score twice as we only lost 4-3, which was a ridiculously impressive effort for a totally rotated 11.

10 games from back-to-back titles

A relentless run of form saw us leading second-place AC Milan by 16 points and third-place Juve by 20 points going into the final 10 games. However, we did have a fairly tricky run-in, so this wasn’t over by any stretch. That was proven as we went to 19th-place Fiorentina and twice trailed… only for Ronaldo to come off the bench and score an 89th-minute winner!

We yet again had Abragam to thank as his hat-trick led a 3-1 win at Parma then his 40th of the season opened the scoring at home to Napoli – before Ronaldo headed home a 96th-minute second off the bench. The winning streak ended with a 1-0 loss at rivals Lazio. But a flying start at home to Inter, with six shots in 12 minutes, saw a rare Isak Jóhanneson goal. An even rarer goal followed from homegrown midfielder Giacomo Faticanti, which was his first of the season, before Jóhanneson created a late third for Ronaldo. Even at 40, he is still amazing, but Inter were appalling.

Our first chance to wrap up the title came with the visit of 14th-place Spezia. We dominated from the first minute and eventually took the lead as Abraham headed home after half an hour. Left-back Nicola Zalewski doubled the lead just after half-time with his second goal of the season but Spezia went down the other end and obviously scored their first shot! But Abraham scored again and Alberto Moleiro scored a delicious late curler.

AS Roma defended their Serie A title!!

We had Juve away up next so I obviously started Ronaldo and he obviously scored after 20 minutes! But we drew 2-2 then 0-0 at Verona and an outrageous Abraham solo goal led yet another hat-trick in a 3-0 win over Atalanta. The season concluded at relegated Salernitana, which saw Ronaldo given a start and a hero’s send-off by both sets of fans. We led 1-0 at the break but the big moment arrived on 78 minutes as Dominik Szoboszlai’s corner landed on Ronaldo’s head, he powered it back across goal and into the top corner and was mobbed by his teammates and the Roma fans as he fittingly scored in his final-ever match.

We finished the season 14 points clear of Milan with 30 wins, five draws and three defeats. Ronaldo’s final goal took us to 100 goals, which was five more than last season, and we conceded 25, which was seven more than last season. Abraham was Serie A top scorer with an outrageous 42 in 33 games with Ronaldo eighth with 20 in 36, of which just six were starts! Abraham set a new league record average rating of 8.02, followed by Ronaldo on 7.34, and got a league-high 13 player of the match awards. We also had the top three assisters with Andreas Schjelderup getting 17, Szoboszlai 13 and Bardghji 12 and Barella was sixth with 11.

2024/25 Season Review – Adeus Ronaldo

We have to start by talking about Cristiano Ronaldo who, despite turning 40 in February, scored 28 goals in 48 games in all competitions, of which just 14 were starts. In 18 months at Roma, he scored 26 league goals and 36 in all competitions. And he finished his career with an outrageous 531 goals in 734 league games. What a legend.

That said, our star man this season was Abraham, who bagged a new club-record 45 goals in 39 games and an average rating of 7.87. That saw him win the European Golden Shoe and was unlucky to come second to Erling Haaland in the Best Player in Europe award. Bardghji and Barella scored eight, followed by Roger Ibanez (7), Schjelderup (6) and Endrick and Moleiro (5). Schjelderup led the way with 18 assists followed by Szoboszlai (16), Bardghji (13) and Barella (11).

Bardghji has probably seen the most improvement this season, That promise was confirmed by him coming second in NxGn 2025. He was joined by 17-year-old right-back Andrea Croce in 5th, Endrick 15th, youth intake star Matteo Nardini 24th, who’s been on loan at Bari, and Martin Georgiev 41st. I’m a little concerned by Endrick’s lack of improvement with five goals, three assists and 6.88 average rating in his first season, but he is still only 18 and should get more game time next season.

Can Roma make it three titles on the bounce? And how will we rebuild after Cristiano Ronaldo’s retirement?

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