As Inter battles to stay in race for the Champions League places, Stefano Pioli and his men take on one of the sides they are trying to overcome. As is becoming tradition when we face a team that has another SB Nation blog, we’re giving you guys a look into the minds of our enemy for this weekend’s fixture, AS Roma. In order to do so I interviewed Bren at Chiesa Di Totti hear his thoughts about their season thus far and what to expect in this match.
Serpents of Madonnina: For the benefit of those that haven’t been following Roma closely, how you would you describe your season so far?
Chiesa Di Totti: Roma's performance this year can be described thusly: good but not good enough. Spalletti's attack, led by Dzeko and Salah, has been among the best in the game, while the defense, anchored by Manolas and Fazio, is right up there with Juve's, but they've shot themselves in the foot at the worst possible moments, dropping points to clubs like Empoli and Sampdoria. So while they've been able to defeat Napoli, Milan, Fiorentina and Inter, it's these dropped points that have kept Roma from toppling Juve.
SoM: For the past few weeks Roma seems to have been firing on all cylinders. Have there been any areas of concern for the club (besides the new stadium mess)?
CdT: Yeah, that stadium situation has been frustrating, but in terms of on the pitch concerns, it was really brought to the fore yesterday against Villarreal; this club has a depth problem, particularly when it comes to scoring goals. Dzeko and Salah have been so magnificent, it's sort of glossed over the fact that there's no lead horse on the second team. Diego Perotti and Stephan El Shaarawy have just been too inconsistent to be counted one. Oh, and Thomas Vermaelen...he's terrible.
SoM: This might expose how little I watch Roma but last time I checked, Edin Dzeko was more useless up top than a training cone. What happened?
CdT: Well, its probably been a while since you've checked, huh? Dzeko's resurgence has been the reason for Roma's success this season. He has a history of settling in slowly to new surroundings, but last season, once the misses started piling up, his confidence sank to new depths and soon found himself benched behind Salah, Perotti and El Shaarawy, but this year he's brimming with confidence, taking more and better shots and finding the back of the net. I can't really explain the Xs and Os of it, but he's just different between the ears, I suppose.
SoM: I'm just going to ask my two transfer related questions together. First, how has Juan Jesus been working out so far? Cause to be perfectly honest I totally forgot he exists until the buildup to this match. Also, Kostas Manolas. Would Roma really sell him to Inter? Cause I'll take him in a heartbeat, I just figured the club would be more willing to sell out of the league. So what are your thoughts on that?
CdT: Can't lie, we were all pretty upset when Roma spent actual money for Juan Jesus; it wasn't as if he was coming across the Atlantic, they had first had knowledge of how terrible he was for Inter, so we just viewed it as the universe paying us back for fleecing you guys on Dodo, but I'll tell you what, he's become serviceable--not someone you'd start if your life depended on it, but a decent rotation piece. As far as Manolas is concerned, I have my doubts he'll be back in Rome next year, but I can't imagine they'd be foolish enough to sell him to a direct rival. Trust me, Roma fans, real Roma fans, are scared of Inter's improvement, so I'd hate to see them aid in that process.
SoM: Outside of the loss to Juve (I don't want to talk about it), Inter have been flying high in the league. Unfortunately for us, Roma and Napoli have pretty much matched that form ensuring that the Milanese club cannot close the gap on the Champions League spots. Do you think the 2nd and 3rd placed sides will be able to keep up the pace, and if not do you think the Nerazzurri will be able to capitalize on any mistakes?
CdT: Well, it pains us equally to admit that Juventus has the league wrapped up already, but Roma and Napoli are just in such incredible form, I'm not sure what Inter could do to close that gap, but that brings me back to my previous point: next year is a different ball game, Inter will be a threat for sure. In the here and now, I think Roma and Napoli will jockey for second place, making the next Derby del Sole MASSIVE, but I'm not so sure you should dismiss Atalanta out of hand, they've stuck around all season. Closing a six point gap will be difficult for Inter, as they'd have to simultaneously hope that Roma and Napoli each slip up, while also remaining perfect themselves. Tall order.
SoM: Which player are you hoping will lead your team to victory?
CdT: Roma's success is usually built off of Dzeko, Nainggolan and Salah, so I'll say anyone of those three, though nothing gets us more excited than when Francesco Totti scores a game winner!
SoM: Which player would you take from Inter if you could?
CdT: Well, we definitely coveted Gagliardini, so kudos to you on that one, but myself, I've always been a big fan of Antonio Candreva. Bringing a Laziale to Roma is always hard to do, but I would have made that move in an instant.
SoM: Lastly, what is your prediction for the match?
CdT: You seem like a nice guy, and I really love what you've done with the site since renaming it, but come on, I have to say Roma, right? I'll go Roma 2, Inter 1.
Thanks again to Bren for answering my questions. You can find my answers to their questions here.