The Church Bulletin is a new segment on Chiesa di Totti that will recap, review and speculate the on goings with Roma in the previous month. While the last month is still fresh is most of our minds, it’s extremely easy to get caught up in the fast pace of the fixture list. It’s beneficial to reflect and look back on fond (and painful) memories to see what we went through to get to where we are now. It also doesn’t hurt to have some filler material. Part I will quickly run over the results so far and touch on who’s hot in the squad.
So, the first month of calcio is done and dusted. For the sake of convenience, I've included the first match in October along with the rest. Roma participated in a total of eight fixtures, six in Serie A and two in the UEFA Champions League. In the domestic league, Roma matched last season by winning its first five fixtures of the season, but lost its six in the chaotic, controversial and well discussed gong show in Turin against Juventus. It's not as good as last season, but Roma didn't have to play the title holders and favourites until much later last year. That unfortunate result aside, Roma has looked just as good, if not better, in their performances so far compared to last year's historical start.
Roma's continuing dominance at home is positive to see with all three matches resulting in 2-0 victories; against Fiorentina in the season opener, against Cagliari in Zeman's latest return to the Olimpico and over Verona at the end of the month in an awfully packed schedule. While away from Rome the 5 goals for and 4 against are a stark comparison to the 6 for and 0 against at home. Still, the 15 points pulled from a possible 18 is impressive, especially considering the continental obligations Roma has this year along with coping with injuries to key players. The run so far keeps Roma in its familiar second place position, with a point above surprising Sampdoria.
Meanwhile, Roma's return to the Champions League couldn't have been better. Actually, it could have, with a win in Manchester but all things considered - it's looking good. A 5-1 thumping in "new" Roma's debut in the prestigious competition was a symbol that Roma's return isn't a one-off, and that we're expecting annual invites to the party of Europe's elite. The visit to England reminded the world that "new" Roma is still Roma, with Il Capitano breaking another record with his signature cucchiaio. Roma currently sit second, behind German giants Bayern Munich and depending on how the next two fixtures against them go, it'll say a lot about whether or not Roma will be playing in the Champions League post December.
It goes without saying that Radja Nainggolan is playing the best football of his career this season. In the early matches he was easily the best player on the pitch. Other than an 84th minute substitution against Verona, he’s played every single minute so far, so it’s understandable that his later performances were less dominant. Unfortunately, the international break wasn’t much of a break for Radja, as he played every minute of both of Belgium’s fixtures – scoring in one. He was Roma’s first goal scorer of the season and let’s not forget that he deserves full credit for the goal in the 1-0 win over Empoli (that one that hit the bar and went in off of Sepe, technically counting as an own goal).
Alessandro’s only had 3 starts this year but he’s already popped in two memorable goals. The first he celebrated by running to his nonna and the second was off the bench to break the deadlock against Verona with 15 minutes to go. No one doubts the club rumoured to signing the always smiling Florenzi for an extension that’ll keep him in Rome until 2020.
What’s Gervinho hiding beneath that headband? Is it to slow his mind down to match the speed of his feet? A third eye? The secret to the Phaistos Disc? We may never know, but really, who even cares if he can keep contributing in his sometimes clumsy yet consistent manner? Coach’s favourite has piled up 3 goals and 3 assists in all competitions already in the early season.
Honourable mention: Miralem Pjanic, Kostas Manolas & Seydou Keita.