With Inter Milan set to face AS Roma for the first time this season, we got in touch with our sister blog Chiesa Di Totti for what to expect on Sunday. A massive thanks to bren for the insight on the Giallorossi.
Q: Roma was recently bought by The Friedkin Group. What are your hopes for the new ownership? Have any big changes already been made?
A: Well, there’s a difference between my hopes and expectations. My hope is that they can eventually turn Roma into a juggernaut capable of competing for domestic and European honors every year, but my expectations would be incremental progress towards that lofty goal. Realistically, I’m just hoping for consistent Champions League appearances.
There haven’t been too many big changes yet. The prior DS, Gianluca Petrachi, was already dismissed before the Friedkin Group took over, but they’ve since hired Tiago Pinto from Benfica as their new GM. They’re also negotiating on a new kit manufacturer to replace Nike and the new stadium...well, that remains a pipedream.
Q: What have been Roma’s biggest strengths so far?
A: Roma has speed and technique at every level, as well as size and mobility at the back, but their greatest single strength is their ability to create chances. Whether you’re measuring with basic or advanced statistics, Roma is among the league leaders in most scoring and chance-creating categories. And much of that is due to the performances of Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Lorenzo Pellegrini, and Edin Dzeko in attack and Rick Karsdorp and Leonardo Spinazzola at the wing-back spots.
Overall, I’d say this is one of the most balanced Roma teams we’ve seen in quite some time.
Q: On the flip side, do the Giallorossi have any weaknesses that Inter could exploit? Is there a blueprint for stopping them?
A: Well, they do tend to struggle when they face compact defenses that are content to cede possession, especially when those clubs are able to keep Roma limited to wide spaces, but we tend to see that situation more against smaller teams. Goalkeeping has been an area of concern this year as well. Pau Lopez, the nominal starter, was displaced late last year thanks to some untimely errors and inconsistent play but Antonio Mirante, who assumed the top job, has been dealing with some minor issues and has had his own glaring errors, too.
Given how well rounded they are, there isn’t really a blueprint, per se. It really all comes down to cutting the tether between Mkhitaryan and Dzeko. Do that, and you remove Roma’s two biggest threats—really, just isolating Dzeko tends to have a dramatic effect on the remainder of the offense.
Q: What would constitute as a success for Roma in the rest of the league campaign and the Europa League?
A: Success in Serie A simply means qualifying for the Champions League; it’s really as simple as that. Roma’s long-term success is intertwined (and that’s probably an insufficient descriptor) with consistent Champions League revenue, and without that, we see huge sales every summer, which inevitably leads to restarts and new “projects.” So, whether they finish second, third, or fourth doesn’t matter, they just need to qualify for the CL. Full stop.
Advancing in the Europa League is really just gravy on top of whatever they achieve in the league, but my point of view has always been if you’re in it, you might as well win it. And Roma hasn’t won a trophy in over a decade at this point, so it would be a good mark of progress for the club.
Q: What’s your prediction for Sunday? How do you see the match playing out?
A: Oof, that’s the big question, isn’t it? I don’t mean to waffle, but I honestly have no idea! For one thing, we’ve drawn five straight matches against each other. But on the other hand, Roma has struggled mightily against Italy’s other big clubs...but who really thought Inter would lose to Sampdoria?
This is an incredibly difficult match to predict, but I think the match being played in Rome should give a slight edge, so I’ll say 3-2 Roma.