Now that the dust has settled on the roster and transfers in Serie A - Genoa landing Calaio on loan really shifted the tides - we can get along with the Serie A season. Because beginning the year before the window closes makes any sense at all. (It does. Hush.) So we all sat down, answered some questions, made some wild predictions with zero scientific basis, and someone got touched inappropriately underneath the table. Basically it was like a real church.
1. Where will Roma finish?
Bren: Hmm...I'll shoot the moon on this one and say 4th place. As long as the midfield stays healthy, scoring chances won't be hard to come by. In many ways, it'll be just like last season; a war of offensive attrition--just close your eyes at the end and hope you come out alive. Obviously no one is toppling Juve, and Napoli should be a stout second (Im sensing a break-out year for Hamsik), so my extremely optimistic guess is 4th, narrowly missing third.
Sam: 5th, I suspect our heart rates will be pushed somewhere near the Champions League spots with about a month to go, but the back end of the season will bite.
Jonas: 3rd. Don't listen to the other guys. Our starting eleven are definitely contenders for a top three finish. If one or more important pieces (Maicon, Pjanic, Totti etc.) go down for a long time, we might just make it into EL. But without any midweek games (except Coppa and I expect Garcia to rotate) and a bit of luck, the squad of Livorno/Hellas can compete with Juve, Napoli and co until the very end. Therefore, Destro needs to return ASAP. ASAP in this sentence stands for And Shave All Pubic hair.
Dhaw: 5th. Lack of depth is my big concern but if they maintain consistency and can fight for points and turn the losses into draws then there is hope for 4th, also for that to happen Sabatini needs to address the situation in the winter mercato.
Vakahn: Lets hope that the few pounds that Destro has seemingly gained are muscle, because there's a lot resting on his shoulders. If he can stay fit and live up to a fraction of his potential, I think Roma will end in 4th. He doesn't even need to score, just move around, make runs.. you know, be the AntiOsvaldo.
Marten: 5th. Incredibly, they'll beat the smaller teams and play like garbage against the top clubs and settle out nicely in the Europa League. That defensive depth has all sorts of red flags to do any better.
2. Roma's top scorer?
Bren: Pfeww. I have no idea. Totti is a safe bet for at least eight, I would say. And seeing as how Roma is about as open the Soviet Union in the Pre-Gorbachev days, no one really knows when Destro will be back, he may even be in Siberia, or Italy's closest equivalent. So I'll say Ljajic with 13, but I'd expect a more even spread of scoring among Florenzi, Gervinho, Pjanic etc in the neighborhood of 7-10 goals, rather than being top heavy, relying simply on two scorers. But if we're talking about "scoring" scoring, then we all know the answer.
Sam: This is the spot you are meant to put your striker, I've seen this before. I'm going to cheekily share it with Boriello and Florenzi.
Jonas: It's not going to be your daily average striker seeing we only got two (Borriello and Destro) and one's down the picking order while the other one will miss almost half of the season. I'm gonna go for the safe bet here: Totti. Mostly thanks to penalties and the fact Osvaldo can't steal them anymore.
Dhaw: Adem. (Also, won't be shocked if Gervinho gets into double digits. Yes I said it. Kill me now. (Top 3 in no particular order : Adem, Destro, Totti)
Vahakn: Destro, because Football Manager told me so. With Pjanic on his silky-smooth game and Totti still (forever) omniscient, how could a striker not score. Note: Gervinho is not a striker.
Marten: I love that this year's top scorer will have, like, eleven. I'll go with Totti, Ljajic, and Destro in a three-way while Borriello sits in the corner with that creepy fucking mustache staring intently, rubbing his thighs.
3. Roma's top assist man?
Bren: While I think Pjanic will make great strides in nearly all facets this year, I mean, come on, isn't it obvious?
Sam: Ce solo un...
Jonas: Ljajic or Pjanic. Anyway, it's gonna be a player with -ic (Gervinhic? Dodic?).
Dhaw: Miralem or Francesco.
Vahakn: Come on, the man has the most key passes made per game in all of Europe. Maybe even all of Eurasia too.
4. Will Totti crack a double-double again? (10 goals, 10 dimes)
Bren: Depends on plays from the spot, but I'm guessing around 8 goals and 12 assists. Having said that, through two matches, he's had three to four genuine opportunities in the run of play. Besides, after last season, I'm done asking when he'll slow down, so I wouldn't put it beyond the realm of possibility.
Sam: Yes, yes he will.
Jonas: Assists: yes. Goals: Doubtful. Maybe if you count in the Champions League and Europa League games. Nevermind.
Dhaw: Depends on Ilary.
Vahakn: Osvaldo isn't here to take away his penalties anymore.
Marten: Yessuh. The goals will be more difficult, however, as he plays farther from the net and closer to Federico Balzaretti's position in defense.
5. How many goals will Gervinho score?
Bren: Well, he'll certainly put himself in scoring situations, there's no doubt about that. But you don't get the rep he has by coincidence; a lack of finishing has plagued him in recent years. But he his quick, and, from the looks of it, Rudi's attack will be extremely fluid and interchanging, so I could see him knocking in six.
Sam: 8, through sheer weight of chances. That is also including an autogol.
Jonas: Seven with his feet. One gazillion with his forehead on corners.
Dhaw: Double Digits (Kill me again)
Vahakn: 85. By the way, the word "won't" isn't spelled w-i-l-l.
Marten: The square root of the surface area of his forehead multiplied by pi. Then subtract seven. (Six.)
6. How many goals will Sir Nutella Face score? (Note: Zero is an accepted answer. You're an imbecile and you should be removed from the gene pool snappishly, but it is accepted.)
Bren: I don't know who that is.
Sam: This team has always needed more knighted individuals.
Jonas: [We should probably charge to read what was actually written. Totally worth it.]
Dhaw: As many calories there is in ½ teaspoon of Nutella.
Vahakn: Fucked around and got a Double-Double.
Marten: Zero. Cubed.
7. How many goals will Coco score for Tottenham?
Bren: I'm too distracted by that ghastly ‘33' on his back to venture an educated guess, plus I don't follow the English game. But scoring 15 in Italy is no small feat, so even figuring in some regression due to the transition, I'll go with 10.
Sam: Your face used to be beautiful man. 9.
Jonas: You silly, Lamela's still with us! .... Right? Right? ..... Mommy?
Dhaw: Shut it.
Marten: Err...eight. I'll only cry through seven, however. Yay progress.
8. Who will win the scudetto? (Anything but Juventus is actually accepted. See Sir Nutella Face question for the rest of it.)
Bren: What's a Scudetto?
Sam: It doesn't matter whether you win or lose, but how you play the game.
Jonas: Lazio. *sound of severe stabbing*. Ok I meant Juventus.* sound of normal stabbing* OH C'MON GUYS GIVE ME A BREAK!
Dhaw: Whoever can buy the referees.
Marten: I no speak Englishes.
9. Who will net the remaining two Champions League spots?
Bren: What's a "Champions League"? ...obviously Napoli, then I'd expect a fight to the wire between Roma, Inter and Fiorentina.
Sam: Napoli and Fiorentina.... Gomez is a mad signing and is Rossi.
Jonas: Fiorentina and Roma. Yes we can. Napoli had a decent mercato but I'm not convinced by Benitez while Fio's Rossi-Gomez combo looks golden.
Dhaw: Andorra and San Marino
Vahakn: One spot for just Hamsik and the other for Napoli.
Marten: Inter and Napoli. Milan could supplant the Southerners if they can nab a referee in the January window.
10. Europa League places?
Bren: Obviously two of the remaining three from above, but I'll throw Lazio, Milan and Udinese in there. It'll be a vicious fight for the title of Ms. Congeniality of Serie A.
Sam: Milan, Roma and Inter
Jonas: Napoli, Inter and Milan.
Dhaw: Fiorentina, Milan, Roma
Vahakn: Roma, Fiorentina, Inter.
Marten: Fiorentina, Roma, Milan. One of those via the Coppa Italia. Probably Roma. No...Fiorentina. Oh fuck it. Udinese.
11. Who will be Capocannoniere?
Bren: I can't imagine Rossi will hold up for 38 matches, even if he's not actually hurt, you gotta figure there will be some rest in there somewhere. No one from Roma, of course. I don't buy into Higuain as the alpha male...wait, isn't there an obvious answer? Barring any psychological or behavioral issues, I can't see anyone topping Mario Balotelli. When he gets going, he's a phenomenon. Gomez will certainly be in the equation, Carlos Tevez seems to be slotting well into Juve's lineup, plus he's got Andrea Pirlo and Paul Pogba feeding him. Smart money: Balotelli, Wild Guess: Hamsik with 23 goals.
Sam: Gomez, bangs em in for fun.
Jonas: Luca Toni.
Vahakn: Mario Gomez.
Marten: Jesus. Can I still choose Cavani? Please? I want to go with Higuain but it seems as though they've got too much breadth of quality in attack for the goals not to be dispersed evenly to a degree. And I'll be damned if I choose that dude in Milan. Oh...MARCO BORRIELLO. Alright, I'll go with Mario Gomez. (No, just kidding - Cavani.)
12. Flop of the season?
Bren: Fabio Quagliarella...wait, you said flip flop, right?
Sam: His name is Rossi, he has knee injury.
Jonas: Kaka. Now watch him score 25 goals and give Milan the Scudetto. Cassano close second. He'll crumble away at Parma and no one's gonna remember him by March.
Dhaw: Kaka (I couldn't help it... Jesus is tired and has no time for his boy.)
Vahakn: Ogbonna's gonna get injured.
Marten: If we'd have done this before the season I'd have gone with Fernando "Cotton Candy Curls" Llorente and looked brilliant but I can't really do that right now, can I? Felipe Anderson sounds like a gimme. Or expand that to include everything Lotito does ever.
13. Best Serie A transfer.
Bren: Mehdi Benatia, seriously. I expect him to emerge as the league's best center back. I'll say Gomez as a close second, because he slots into Luca Toni's token handsome guy who can score a lot role. Rossi looks good in the early goings, too, but he's a stiff breeze away from coaching in New Jersey. Benatia, simply because, though what he does won't appear in stat sheets, his role is massive and he does it better than nearly anyone in the league. There were a lot of good moves this year, I must say. Ljajic could explode and make Big Walt look like a genius, and I think people may have forgotten how good Tevez was. But Benatia it is, followed closely by Mr. Glamor Shot, Mario Gomez
Sam: I really like Higuain..... but Strootman has looked the freaking business as well. I also think Luca Toni will keep Hellas up.
Jonas: There were a lot of smart transfer moves this Summer, hard to pick one. Juve, Fiorentina and Napoli all did good business with Tevez, Reina, Callejon and Gomez.
Dhaw: Walter Mazzarri to Inter. (Mario Gomez)
Vahakn: Ljajic. We can't keep linking the Cassano+Totti videos forever right? Time for an update. Unless he has a release clause.
Marten: Can I go with Boateng? I know it's outgoing but he seriously crippled their attack with his wannabe post-2010 Sneijder routines from distance. Addition via subtraction. Incredibly wise piece of business by Milan, and you don't get to say that too often these days. Also, M. Satta dated Bobo before Boateng. She must be a neuroanatomical trainwreck.
14. Relegation clubs?
Sam: Sassuolo, Chievo and Livorno. Down with ye!
Dhaw: Sassuolo, Chievo, Bologna
Vahakn: The bottom 3 clubs.
Marten: Sassuolo, Hellas, Chievo. Verona is sinking, my Romanistases.
15. Best Roma transfer?
Bren: Well, I already said Benatia was the best in the league, so I'll make an honorary selection and say Adem Ljajic. Even though he only played roughly 40 minutes, fuckin hell, they were lovely. It's going to be a joy to watch him and Totti run circles around people.
Sam: Maicon... attacking oomph! But saving us points will be Strootman.
Jonas: De Sanctis. I don't care if Gervinho scores 20 goals, Benatia makes 50 tackles per week or Strootman becomes the Italian Iniesta. I'm ecstatic we finally got a decent starting Italian keeper once again. He's already got two clean sheets, more than Stek and Lobont combined in their whole Roma career. Plus, he shares the first name of my two favorite actors: Morgan Freeman (Hollywood movies) and Katie Morgan (porn).
Dhaw: Tallo to Ajaccio. (Kevin - because of what he does to Daniele)
Marten: For the here and now, Benatia - he's better than Marquinhos. (No slight - kid's a kid.) For the long term, Kevin Strootman.
16. Roma flop of the season. (New transfer or otherwise.)
Bren: Oof. Morgan De Sanctis. He sure seems like a nice guy, but I can see Lobont sneaking in there by March. Gervinho seems too easy a call, Borriello probably won't play enough to qualify, and I wouldn't really factor in any of the young guys for the same reason. And, despite what he claims, Maicon is a gamble, one that could pay huge dividends, but a gamble no less.
Sam: Morgan... its just not an upgrade.
Jonas: Skorupski. He won't play one single minute. Somewhere, Pietro Pipolo is still crying. Also, I have a feeling we expect too much of Jedvaj this season. I don't see him collect a lot of minutes this season. Better send him to kindergarten in Rome until 2017, kid's 17 for Christ sake.
Dhaw: Caprari (if he spends an entire year in Rome). Same applies to Romagnoli.
This one is on Walter.
Vahakn: Babu. I mean, he's 32. He's lost some of his pace and he's a winger after all.
Marten: The massive onus being placed upon Destro's lumberjack beard and fact that he's coming off an injury seems he's the easy target here, but I trust he's too...what's the polite euphemism for stupid?...to actually notice. How about the entire leftback position not including Totti, LWB. (No one actually expects anything from Gervinho, ergho.)
17. When will Simone Perrotta return from his vacation?
Bren: I think he made the right choice, he's got head of FIGC written all over him. He just fits the bill of someone whose off the field success will oustrip anything he achieved on it, World Cup ‘06 notwithstanding.
Sam: When you stop touching yourself at night!
Jonas: When someone finally tells him his nr20 is up for the grabs again after Tallo left.
Dhaw: He didn't leave us. (Florenzi's miss against Verona is the proof, he is lurking around)..
Vahakn: Him, Panucci and Tonetto are always watching over us like it's the end of Star Wars.
Marten: Only when he's ready. Don't rush him. It's going to be okay. Shhh. Shhh.
18. Will Rudi still be the coach in the summer of 2014?
Bren: Yes, I have a good feeling Rudi will take Roma by storm. I also think the lack of a better (immediate) alternative is a factor, so even if he sputters to a fifth or sixth place finish, I think he'll be back unless Luciano or Carletto are willing to work pro bono for a year.
Sam: Yes. I am a fan of Rudi and his football. This club needs a young, brash and turtleneck attired man to get his best team on the field and then keep him there for a season or 3.
Jonas: Does September 2013 count as Summer 2014? If so, then yes. Otherwise, I hope so as Rudi seems like a charming man who really wants the best for his club. But unfortunately I have no crystal ball. We can only wait and see how Roma fares this season. If Rudi can qualify us for Europe (top five) then he must stay, just for the sake of continuity.
Dhaw: Yes. (Next man is Carlo in maybe 2-3 years - don't see Cesare coming to Roma unless Corvino takes over Sabatini)
Vahakn: He already is. Have you read his interviews? "The fixture list has given us the opportunity to rise from the dead very quickly." Fucking. Cool.
Marten: Dear god. Allegri's contract is running out and Cesare Prandelli will be available. This feels like dating someone just because you can't be alone and are waiting until something better comes along or your first choice becomes single. Ummm...yes, but the rumors of Sabatini secretly meeting with Allegri's men will erupt starting in February. By which time Max will surely be unemployed.
19. Who will play more league minutes this season: Ho or Hos (PSGhos)?
Bren: Probably Marquinho The Singular, he'll be the utility man this year, playing everywhere and anywhere, while Plural will struggle to get consistent minutes in PSG, making his move even more frustrating.
Sam: If one day one of those speculative long range efforts of singular goes in, sure he'll keep coming back. But until then I'll stick with Hos.
Jonas: Ho will spend more minutes on the field while ‘Hos will spend more minutes in my bedroom (booyah).
Dhaw: Hos. (I expect Singular to be out in January)
Vahakn: Hos. And tricks.
Marten: I'll go with Singular here, actually, because...I think he might win the LB position at some point. (Yes, I said that. No, I've not just had a stroke. Strokous? Need a minute.)
Bren: Si, por supuesto.
Sam: Up yours.
Jonas: A typical English word, consisting of three letters. Mosty used to verify a fact or a person's opinion. As in: ‘Yes, Okaka is the next Drogba', ‘Yes, Riise's left foot has killed many men' or ‘Yes, I still dream of Adrian Pit'.
Vahakn: How dare you.
Marten: No means NO.
21. How many league starts will Captain America get?
Bren: I was also going to say 12, but I'll be different and say 9. There are just too many variables to prognosticate. Chief among them, how will Rudi handle the Coppa, injuries etc. etc., I think he'll be a mainstay in the rotation, however.
Sam: That movie was terrible, just terrible. He does have this knack for surviving wholesale changes, then you gotta add a bit of that American owner conspiracy. So lets say 11.
Jonas: I heard Pallotta demands at least 30 Bradley starts from Rudi. So 30 it is. I can live with Serie B you know, really.
Dhaw: Shouldn't be touching double digits but since he is the face of AC Roma, I'll go with 12.
Vahakn: How many does he have so far? One? One.
Marten: Marquinho seems a (much) better fit for Strootman's role while Bradley and Pjanic only share the title "midfielder" in name, so for Michael to win starts it'll have to be when replacing DDR, who looks all sorts of reborn, and emergencies only. So...I'll go 32. Because he's Michael Bradley.
22. Will Morgan be considered a good purchase or a bust at the end of the year?
Bren: In order to be a bust, you have to arrive with grand expectations, which simply isn't the case. Morgan's Roma career, no matter what he may achieve, will max out at meh. I just realized I contradicted myself, but, I'll stick to my guns. He is what he is, if you're expecting the second coming of Dino Zoff, you'll be sorely disappointed.
Sam: No to both, he'll go through the season without upsetting nor setting the place on fire. Meh.
Jonas: Not good, just... decent. There are better keepers, there are worse. It's the defence in front of him that counts and that looks solid with Benatia and Maicon. I don't ask for Buffonlike saves, just someone we can count on, knows Serie A in and out and who oozes confidence between the sticks. Morgan's the perfect piece, came in cheap and is a good short-term solution for the Americans. Besides, when was the last time Roma had a renowned word class keeper? Stek? Ok next question please.
Dhaw: Totally depends on how he performs in the derby. Ask JSB how that works.
Vahakn: He knows Italian, how bad could he be.
Marten: A bust-ish (Busty? Busty Morgan? Don't Google that.), but I think the three in front of him - Benatia, Castan, DDR; new Bermuda Triangle - is so solid it won't matter. Kind of Doni post-2008 territory. "They could do a lot better but he's fine."
23. The Florenzi at wing experiment? How will it go?
Bren: I think he'll be the offensive version of Bradley, finding a way into the lineup and/or rotation to provide an offensive burst. But, yeah, once Destro comes back, he should slot in between Totti and Ljajic, leaving Florrest to the supersub role.
Sam: Boy has an eye for goal. I still rather have him entering the box late like he did against Inter last year to head Totti's ball in. It will go well, I'm a fan.
Jonas: As long as he plays and keeps injuring himself after every goal scored, I'm perfectly fine with it. Alessandro always finds his way into the team, can play a lot of roles both in midfield and attack and no one will play all 38 games from start to finish. Florenzi's the ideal ‘12th man' for Rudi. I prefer him in midfield though.
Dhaw: He will lose his starting spot. Lovely player but technique wise he is weak and I don't see him starting on the wing when others are fit. So, I expect to see him on the bench and whenever he comes on - it will be somewhere in midfield.
Vahakn: I think he's slowly getting the hang of playing as an inside forward. At least I hope so. He needs to play but I don't see anywhere else to put him. Love his diagonal runs.
Marten: This isn't exactly quantifiable outside of the basics, but I think he'll be completely overshadowed by Ljajic and the midfield looks set in stone. Yet another candidate for, yeah, fullback in the winter months, incredibly. (He's been a rightback before.) It's awfully difficult to think Rudi will run out Totti, Ljajic, Florenzi up high every week; especially when Destro returns. Might hurt his World Cup chances.
24. Roma's record against Juventus, Inter, Fiorentina, Milan, and Napoli.
Bren: Swept, Split, Sweep, Split, and two draws, respectively.
Sam: Clean sweeps against Juve and Fiorintina, one each against the Milans, Napoli will do us.
Jonas: They'll all get buttfucked so hard they'll instantly become sopranos (RIP Gandolfini) and sing higher than Kate Bush and the Rubettes combined. In all seriousness: 3-4-3, losses to Juve, Inter and Napoli away, home wins against both Milan sides and Fiorentina.
Dhaw: Winning against Juventus - home and away.. Losing to Milan - home and away. Winning one and Losing one with Inter.
Vahakn: 3-5-2, draw Juve twice, disappoint against Napoli.
Marten: 3-4-3, beating Milan twice and drawing with Inter twice. They'll also beat Fiorentina on a Ljajic quadruple-double. (Four goals, two chins.)
25. Roma's player of the year?
Bren: I know the cool, hipster thing to do would be say anyone but Francesco, but, you know it, I know it, we all know it. There can be no other. I think he wills his way to some combination of 20 (goals and assists), but Pjanic should be hot on his heels.
Sam: All hail the return of Daniele De Rossi. Expect him to remain on the field for 20mins after we beat Lazio 3 nil, stirring the Sud.
Jonas: Gervinho. You spelled ‘haircut' wrong.
Dhaw: Daniele De Rossi.
Vahakn: Rudi. What? He used to be a player.
Marten: Miralem. He was under POTY Enrique and he shall be again, which should frighten everyone for the summer of ‘14. And Bren just called us all hipsters.