Part two of our roundtable discussion shifts the focus from directly Roman-related concerns to take a look at some league wide issues, namely Juventus’ dominance of Serie A. You can catch Part I here.
1. By How many points will Juventus win the league?
Bren: Hmm, they’re certainly the odds on favorite, but if Roma gets off to a hot start and doesn’t suffer too many setbacks, I think they can keep things interesting. The midfield depth is what scares me most, and I’m not proclaiming a Scudetto is imminent, but my mood has shifted dramatically over the past couple of weeks. Pogba/Morata for Pjanic/Higuain isn’t necessarily an upgrade. At worst, I think we can keep it within seven or eight, at best, I think the final few weeks will be dramatic.
JonAS: At some point their winning mood must stop eventually. So Juve won’t win it this year, their obsession with the CL might also cause some setbacks. The team that benefits most from the Old Lady’s missteps will grab it (Roma, Napoli or Inter).
Sam: Defence wins championships. They got it we don’t. They’ll win by at least 8 points.
NANF: Less than last season.
masonio: Between 5-10.
Jimmy: Honestly, it all depends on how Roma responds to their massive loss to Porto. Yeah, I have the benefit of answering after the Porto game, but we all know that Roma’s had a history of going down the drain after losing in Europe. If Spalletti can pull out a motivating speech that would put Any Given Sunday to shame, we might have the close horse race that Bren was talking about. Otherwise, I’m thinking it’ll be a 10 point gap with Roma in second.
2. Pretend they’re not invincible, who provides the biggest challenge towards the Old Lady and why?
JonAS: Roma. I had my doubts at first, but 1) the signings of Peres and Vermaelen and 2) Paredes and Radja staying and 3) the extension of Totti has me growing more and more optimistic. Rui’s injury was a letdown, yet in Spal we trust!
Sam: Hard to say without seeing Napoli play yet, but I’m confident Roma have the second most talented side in Italy now and with Spalletti as coach I think we have a shot at challenging Juve at least until March.
NANF: Sassuolo, just kidding. If Roma’s can keep their wits about them for more than 20min at a time. They have a chance
masonio: Roma but in the sense that Juve is Usain Bolt so it doesn’t really matter.
Bren: Roma can go toe to toe offensively with any club in the league, so in that respect, I think they can keep the pressure on Juventus, but as we just discussed above, the defense has very little margin for error, especially in the early weeks as all the new signings adjust. Outside of Roma, you have to think Napoli will mount a charge. Higuain or not, they’re still pretty loaded.
Jimmy: I wouldn’t be much of a Romanista if I didn’t put Roma, right? The defense hasn’t been inspiring just yet but if that rag-tag group of players can put together a couple of clean sheets, the offense might just drive us into contention.
3. Prediction time, give us the top five at season’s end
JonAS: Roma / Juve / Inter / Napoli / Fiorentina
Sam: Juve / Roma / Napoli / Inter / Sassuolo
NANF: Roma / Juve / Sassuolo / Napoli / Fiorentina
masonio: Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Milan, Inter
Bren: Juventus, Roma, Napoli, Inter, Sassuolo
Jimmy: Roma, Juventus. Napoli, Sassuolo, Inter
4. Who gets relegated?
Sam: Pescara / Chievo / Crotone
NANF: Palermo / Crotone / Pescara
masonio: Crotone, Pescara, Udinese
Bren: To hell with all of you, Pescara is staying up!
Jimmy: Crotone, Chievo, Palermo
5. Best transfer league wide?
JonAS: Pbbbbwwwwukkjanic, sorry I just threw up in my mouth.
Sam: Tough one given how no one wants to come to Italy anymore, maybe Candreva to Inter?
NANF: Benatia coming back.
masonio: Pjanic to Juve, Borriello to Cagliari. Take your pick.
Bren: I’ll go with Peres coming to us, simply because it was an ideal match between player and club; he’s exactly what they needed and they’re exactly what he needed.
Jimmy: Best transfer for the league was Pogba leaving Juventus. Now they know how it feels to lose a fan favorite wonderkid! (I still love you Marquinhos)
6. Capocannoniere and how many will he score?
JonAS: Dybala, 23 goals. Icardi second with 20 goals.
Sam: Icardi with 22
NANF: Going with an underdog Pavoletti with 19. Better goals/90 then Icardi and slightly less than Dybala.
masonio: Higuain, 25.
Bren: Wow, good call NANF, but I won’t be so bold. I’ll go with Icardi for 26; that would give him...err, his wife...more impetus to push for a move to one of Europe's elite.
Jimmy: Icardi and El Shaarawy will have 21 each. Whoever has fewer minutes will get it, and that’s anyone’s guess.
7. How many points will Roma take from Cagliari this year?
JonAS: Are you kidding, Borriello plays there now! 1 point if they’re lucky.
NANF: Can’t we just get points for Cellino being a dumb ass again? Hopefully 2 or less.
Bren: Borriello will bag more Roman women than Roma will take points from Cagliari...wait, he’d do that anyway. I’ll be bold and say all six.
8. I know we all hate them, but Juve doing well in Europe is good for Italy overall, can they win the Champions League?
JonAS: They certainly went all out for it this Summer: Alves, Pjanic, Higuain, Benatia. Those are 4 great additions in every department. Morata and Pogba left but their squad is more complete now. However, I still rate Barca, Real and Bayern higher. Depends on the knock-out round after New Year, if it’s favorable then they can reach the final again.
Sam: Only if they get a dream run in like Real Madrid did last year. I still don’t think they are quite there.
NANF: Would come down to a little luck on the draws to get them to the finals but I wouldn’t bet on Gigi losing another final.
masonio: Depends on the draw. I’ll say no.
Bren: Well of course it depends on the draw, but after five straight domestic titles, what more do they have to prove? I think it all depends on BBC’s health because you’d have to think their offense can match virtually anyone, you know, provided Higuain drops a few kilos.
Jimmy: It’d take quite a good string of luck. If they do win the Champions League I think some other club will win Serie A. No way they’re getting the double in Totti’s last year.
9. Paint us a picture: Miralem Pjanic’s return to the Olimpico, what happens?
JonAS: Easy. May 14 2017. Mira scores a free-kick in the 89’ minute after a foul from De Rossi just outside the box. Totti gets red after slapping Higuain in a brawl afterwards, ignores Spalletti and walks into the tunnel. Florenzi also gets injured during the game and is sidelined for 6 months. It’s all the drama you ever wanted and more. Don’t say I didn’t warn ya.
Sam: Sad things.
NANF: To much excitement surrounding for that one, it is sure to be a less than memorable game.
masonio: He’ll probably score.
Bren: Call me crazy, but I don’t think he’ll make much of a mark, though he’s sure to be jeered mercilessly, and I dont think anyone will shed a tear if Manolas knocks him on his ass.
Jimmy: He won’t perform well, there will be boos, and it’ll be a 1-1 draw.
10. Seriously, can anyone other than Juventus win the league this year?
JonAS: Yes, 19 teams to be exact.
Sam: I’m afraid not.
NANF: Depends on if you believe in miracles.
Bren: If everything falls right for Roma, I think there’s a chance, slim as it might be.
Jimmy: I agree with JonAS, anyone can. Will anyone? I think Roma has the best shot, especially if Juventus gets too invested in winning European glory.