As many of you know by now, Chiesa di Totti got it start as an online roundtable discussion; a way for far flung Roma fans to share their anxiety, ideas and delusions. While we've ran this feature intermittently in the past, mostly in the build up to each new season, we're going to attempt and make this a somewhat regular feature, not only because it's hella easy for me to publish, but (and more importantly) it gets more voices out there.
So, with that out of the way, I threw a series of questions at the crew following Sunday's victory over Palermo. Did the somewhat convincing victory, one that featured a few subtle tactical changes, have any impact on their opinion of Rudi Garcia? And for that matter, how on earth can we even categorize this team? Even by their peculiar standards, Roma is off to a strange start this season... on to the questions!
Okay, so what do we make of Garcia now? Was this a sign of hope going forward or just an anomaly?
Bren: I suppose I'd be more inclined to say it was an out and out resurrection had it occurred against a more formidable opponent, but a 4-2 victory is a 4-2 victory, and while I can't really tell if it was a genuine 4-4-2 or a 4-4-1-1, Garcia made a slight tactical change in this one, slotting Florenzi back into the midfield, which did yield positive results. Is the sky suddenly rosey? Of course not, but going into the break on a high certainly won't hurt things. Having said that, they could just as well stink up the joint against Empoli on the 17th and I'll end up writing about Brendan Rodgers taking over or something.
Dhaw: The only positive from this game was that we got the 3 points and get ourselves time to re-group and get our shit together during the International break. Garcia hasn't changed whatsoever. The decisions that were made today were forced. So I am not going to get carried away just because we won 4-2. The first 25 minutes were good and then it was an "okayish" performance and then in the 2nd half it was the same ol' Rudi's Roma.
Kevin: Sadly just an anomaly. Garcia still showed no ability to adapt and change. Roma didn't even play the full 90 minutes today, the team seemed content to just sit back after going 3-0 up on Palermo within the first 30 minutes of the match.
JonAS: I didn't have time to watch the game but I surely didn't expect a 2-4 win in a difficult stadium like Palermo. However, they did again make things unnecessary tight by letting the Rosanero come back to 2-3. I'll gladly take the 3 points and the euforia but there are still some aspects that can improve a lot, like the defence. This win goes to the bin if they draw against Empoli. Then we're back in a mini-crisis. Time for some consistency!
NANF: It is going to take more than one game to change an opinion that was built over a season. Three points is three points so take that as the positive and get ready for the next match.
masonio: Unfortunately, nothing has really changed. Fortunately, Roma won three points. Winning the match isn't an anomaly. With the squad Roma has, they should win most matches based on the pure quality advantage they have over most of the league. The small changes Rudi made didn't seem organic to me, either. He was completely outclassed by Beppe in the second half.
Sam: Well the defence sure as hell wasn't an anomaly. With that said it was a relief to finally see some cutting edge in our final third.
Even if you think this was an aberration, give us one or two things you liked about Roma's performance, particularly Garcia's decision making, from the Palermo victory.
Dhaw: Florenzi & Mira.
Bren: I'll have to agree with Dhaw on this one to an extent; the changes were forced, not signs of ingenuity from Garcia, but, at least in the early goings, they seemed work. Not many guys on this team can make off the ball runs quite like Florenzi, so pushing him further upfield was a fantastic idea, and it paid immediate dividends on the Pjanic goal. Unfortunately, given all the wingers on this team, it was probably a one off performance, but it remains a viable option, especially if they land a viable right back in the winter.
Kevin: Florenzi back in the midfield!
JonAS: See answer before. Can't really judge the performance of Rudi or the players if I didn't watch the game. But Florenzi and Pjanic scored so I guess both men regained some confidence. Yao is doing fine with 3 goals in 2 games in Totti and Dzeko's abscence.
NANF: Seems Rudi took James' comments seriously.
masonio: Florenzi playing where he should. Pjanic continuing to carry the team forward. He'll burn out at this rate, though. Gervinho doing a few things right, though, it's kind of annoying because we all know he can't do it regularly.
Sam: Easily seeing Florenzi playing in a comfortable position rather than improvising at RB. I also liked seeing the net ripple when our players were shooting at goal.
We're seven weeks into the season, which seems absurd given how much news we've discussed, is it too early to label this team? Do we have any idea what the rest of this year holds? Can this team be characterized already, and if so, how? Are they lucky? Great but inefficient? Fooling everyone with flashy goals?
Dhaw: While the Old Lady is suffering, our Lady Luck is trying to keep us in contention. The season is long, so it ain't over till the Fat Lady sings.
Kevin: I'd say seven weeks is too small of a sample size to label this team, especially looking at the variety of results so far. As far as what the rest of the year holds...drama? A drinking problem? Elation? Despair? Who knows, this year's Roma is like a telenovela. Right now I'd characterize this team as good to great but inefficient.
Bren: In typical fashion, Roma has defied definition and common sense. On paper, there may not be a more talented team in the league; they have it all--size, speed, and a nice blend of youth and experience--yet they can't seem to get out of their own way. I can just as easily see them catching up with and blowing past Fiorentina and Inter by Christmas time as I can picture them wallowing in fifth. Needless to say, October is a crucial month not only for results, but finally forging an identity.
JonAS: Inconsistent as hell. A win in Juve followed by a draw against Barcelona looks like a true badass club, but then Roma drew Sassuolo, lost to Sampdoria and fell in BATE's trap. Crisis was looming but then we won 5-1 and 4-2. I don't dare to predict anything Roma related nowadays. Expect the unexpected, that is my moto from now on!
NANF: JonAS nailed this one. The results are random. The only problem is so are Roma's performances.
masonio: Roma is an inconsistent club that is easily full of itself after decent performances only to have that unmerited arrogance lead to disappointing upsets against clubs that should be easily swept to the side.
Sam: Injuries are a super important factor here. I think if Rudi can keep his number one team on the park there is a possibility we can once again fake our way to UCL finish. However our CL fate is more or less close your eyes and hope for the best. A bit like our defence.
October looks brutal--Fiorentina, Inter and Bayer Leverkusen all on the road and Empoli and Udinese at home--12 potential domestic points and three critical Champions League points. Give us a prediction? Which ones are absolute must wins? Which side scares you the most?
Dhaw: Every game is a must win. Losing points in the league allows others to leap-frog us and losing points to Bayer basically means we will be out of Champions League way before we play the 6th game. If we win all - then that sets the tone for the rest of the season and we can again talk about Rudi Garcia being our Alex Ferguson.
Just for the heck of predicting : Win vs. Fiorentina. Loss vs. Inter. Loss vs. Bayer. Win vs. Empoli. Draw vs. Udinese.
Every side scares me these days.
Kevin: I agree with Dhaw, Roma must take maximum points in October. It's important to win against Fiorentina and Inter due to their positioning in the Serie A table. Leverkusen is a must win as well if the club still has ambitions within Champions League this season. The Empoli and Udinese matches scare me the most because, well, Roma happens.
Bren: Leverkusen is an absolute must win. If they have any shot of getting out of Group E, three points against Bayer is mandatory. Domestically, I'm wary of Udinese, that has trap game written all over it, but six pointers against Fiorentina and Inter will obviously go a LONG WAY to helping Roma get a grip on the top of the table. So much of Serie is an aberration this season (I dont buy the Viola start, while Inter is seemingly legit), and this month might finally see some clarity brought to the table, sweeping those two could and should determine the course of the season, or at the very least, the remaining weeks in 2015.
JonAS: In Rome every month looks brutal. Leverkusen in CL and Fiorentina in Serie A look game changers to me. Empoli and Udinese at home is doable, we've got the backing of the crowd. But those 2 away games will decide if Roma is truly back on track or Carpi & Palermo were just plain bad against us.
NANF: Bayer and Inter are must wins. Although with the roller coaster ride this season I'm almost expecting a loss to Empoli followed by a complete game against Bayer (complete is probably pushing it).
masonio: The season is still very early, but results going in the wrong direction will add even more pressure due to the nature of the sport. The only club that scares me is Roma - the other clubs are a lot more predictable in how they'll play. A win against Fiore & Inter with points dropped against Empoli & Udine wouldn't be entirely shocking with what we're used to. I'll say 7/12 points in Serie A. I do not see Roma winning against Leverkusen unless they play with uncharacteristically good structure, drive and determination over the majority of the match like they did against Barca and at times against Juve.
Sam: Both Inter and Bayer look very intimidating on paper. Beating both would give the team a massive shot of confidence and would certainly go a long way in shifting the mood around the side. With that said, this needs to be followed up with dominant performances in Serie A, not dreadful draws.
Roma has been somewhat successful, or at least not as dreadful as we anticipated, with the Gervinho, Mohamed Salah and Iago Falque front line. With Gervinho grabbing four goals in the last three matches, who sits and who starts when Edin Dzeko comes back
Kevin: That's a tough one. Obviously Dzeko slots back in at striker, and Mohamed Salah seems to have one of the wing positions locked down. As for the other wing, perhaps Rudi will pick Gervinho due to his goal scoring streak in recent matches. I think that front line has been tried once before this season, but maybe it will be different this time around now that the players have gelled a little bit more.
Bren: Adios, Iago. It was nice knowing you, plant your ass on the bench and start studying Turkish because you and Uçan are going to be fast friends.
JonAS: Yao-Dzeko-Salah. Both wingers have scored 3 times and are joint top scorers of this team while Edin costed a lot and is basically our only true striker up front. They should do fine against Empoli or Udine but against Inter or Leverkusen we'll need some Totti magic.
NANF: There should be a way to get all of them meaningful minutes, but I'm gonna guess Igo is on the outside looking in.
masonio: I would sit Salah at the moment because he's looking burnt out and Gervinho has caught fire. I expect Iago to sit, though. Isn't Totti back before Dzeko? Or is he legitimately a bench player for Roma now? Yeah, I still haven't accepted it.
Sam: I think Falque will be told to sit here, mainly due to Gervinho and Rudi's unbreakable bond. Salah is doing enough to warrant his starting spot right now.
Lastly, how will you be spending the international break?
Dhaw: FIFA 16
Kevin: I'm going to the U.S. vs. Mexico Confederations Cup Playoff on October 10th.
Bren: Wow, nice. I'm probably going to some painting around my house and, of course, celebrate Columbus Day.
JonAS: Watching the NT of Belgium play against Andorra and Israel on tv, b-day party, listening to Jay Z and Stromae, drink some Belgian beer, eat some Belgian waffles and chocolate (yeah, you're jealous by now aren't you?).
NANF: Getting ready for winter.
masonio: In the process of relocating and going through physiotherapy. Contemplating throwing a rager over the long weekend instead of doing the turkey dinner thing. Treating myself because I'm amazing.
Sam: I've got a mate visiting me from home so we will try and catch the Wallabies v Wales game at a pub and then go watch the ice hockey.