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The Great Roma Questionnaire Extraordinaire, 2020 Edition, Pt I: State of Serie A

WIth the season 48 hours away, we assembled the crew to discuss the state of the league ahead of the new season.

AS Roma v FC Internazionale - Serie A Photo by Giampiero Sposito/Getty Images

The roots of Chiesa di Totti date back almost 15 years at this point. Starting off as a virtual discussion between far flung fans, these impassioned discussions soon gave birth to the very site you're reading now. In keeping with tradition, we've kept those conversations alive every season since our official inception in 2007 and our re-branding in 2012. So, just as we do at the outset of every season, we've assembled the crew (minus Jonas who was busy packing and moving this week) to discuss the state of the league ahead of the 2020-2021 season.

So, bookmark these predictions and let's meet back here in May to see how we fared.

1. With barely a month in-between the conclusion of last season and the start of this one, which team stands to benefit most from that compressed summer schedule? Which teams will likely be hurt the most?

Paulo Dybala of Juventus FC during the Uefa Champions... Photo by Marco Canoniero/LightRocket via Getty Images

Bren: The teams that have the most continuity, both in terms of players and coaching staff, should theoretically have an advantage, so that would play into the hands of most of your top clubs, except for Juventus, who will be leaning on a completely inexperienced manager—so that could make for some interesting viewing in the first few rounds.

As for who gets the short end of the stick, it has to be the newly promoted sides, right? Or even just the clubs who lack the proper depth to make such a quick turn around between seasons.

dallagente: I could be naive, but is the schedule really going to be a big factor? I do agree that the biggest clubs will put distance between them and everyone else, if anything because plenty of players in the rest of the pack could have their heads elsewhere looking for a move in 2021. Moves that didn’t happen in the current transfer climate.

ssciavillo: The larger clubs with deeper rosters definitely certainly have an advantage navigating the compressed schedule. However, like bren pointed out roster and managerial continuity also play a factor. The smaller clubs are definitely the most adversely affected.

Jimmy: The rich will get richer and the poor will get poorer. I think Bren is on point here (as per usual).

2. There wasn’t a ton of transfer activity this summer—at least not compared to normal times—but what was the best signing in Serie A this summer, Roma or otherwise?

US Lecce v Brescia Calcio - Serie A Photo by Gabriele Maricchiolo/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Bren: Well, the answer to this was almost Messi to Inter, but I’ll go with a pair of AC Milan signings: keeping Zlatan on a new deal and signing Sandro Tonali for their midfield. They’re on opposite ends of the age spectrum, but Milan are going to be quite good next season.

dallagente: Since I just spent the last few days swimming in Atalanta’s history, I can’t see anything other than black and blue. So I’ll go with Atalanta signing Cristian Romero. They’ve been accused of lacking pace in the backline that may have cost them that little step further up the table, and Romero is exactly the answer to those doubts.

ssciavillo: I think the Romero signing for Atalanta is a great one but I’m going to have to go with Tonali. The kid is regarded as a generational type player by many and the best part from Milan is they pretty much stole him away from their cross town rivals, Inter, by signing him.

Jimmy: Tonali to Milan is probably the best long-term move, but for this season, I think Atalanta’s signing of Sam Lammers (to be confirmed soon) will be the best signing. I just have a hunch he’s going to blow up in Serie A, and a couple seasons back he was on my wishlist for Roma.

3. Last year’s top four was incredibly tight. We’re not asking for predictions at the moment, but has the gap behind Juventus finally narrowed? To what would you ascribe last season’s tight finish?

Juventus v Atalanta BC - Serie A Photo by Stefano Guidi/Getty Images

Bren: I think it finally has, largely because Juve have aged. So many of the guys they leaned on all this time are getting on in years. Combine that with Conte’s impact at Inter and Gasperini’s at Atalanta, then it wasn’t entirely surprising to see a tighter top of the table. I think we’ll see an equally contested race this season, too.

dallagente: I don’t know what to expect from this season’s Juve. I just know they looked like they were going out of their way last season to look like they were making it easier for everyone else to catch up. I’d wait to see who they sign to Pirlo’s desired frontline, which still hasn’t happened while we’re discussing this. All that being said, none of the other Top 4 finishers from last season have suffered any hits to their continuity. Atalanta, Inter and Lazio are all at prime average age in their respective squads. Atalanta and Inter in particular have added pieces like Hakimi and Romero that make sense.

ssciavillo: I do think the gap with Juve has been closed. Inter, Atalanta, and Lazio all made legit runs at the Bianconeri at various points late into last season. I do think a lot of it has to do with age like bren said, as well as, the departure of Allegri. We’ll see what Pirlo brings to the table as a manager, but I’d suspect there will be some growing pains for him. I do think this could be the best chance in awhile of someone dethroning the Old Lady for the first time in a decade because of the combination of the factors at Juve and continuity of teams like Inter and Atalanta.

Jimmy: I’ll need you to get back to me on this one. I can see the arguments for why the gap is closed against Juventus, but there were times when it seemed like 2010s Roma was closing the gap with Juventus, and look how that panned out. Any one of Inter, Atalanta, and Lazio could crash back to earth this season; I’m curious to see who does.

4. Regardless of what you just said, which team has the best chance of halting Juve’s run of dominance this coming season?

FC Internazionale Training Session Photo by Emilio Andreoli - Inter/Inter via Getty Images

dallagente: I’m a fan of ELO ratings in football, lately. Even though they’re experimental. They say the weight of footballing history always had a hand in every result, so long story short: Inter Milan.

ssciavillo: I’m going with Inter as well. I think a second season of Conte coupled with signing like Hakimi make them the biggest threat to Juve.

Bren: It’s hard to say anything other than Inter, especially since Conte seemed to favor experience over promise this summer. That and the fact they only finished one point behind Juventus last year, and we simply don’t know what kind of manager Pirlo will be. Conte and Inter seem all-in on winning the title, but I wouldn’t count Milan or Atalanta out just yet.

Jimmy: Inter is the right answer, but even then, I’m not super confident. 2020 has taught me to temper expectations.

5. Prediction time: Top scorer?

SSC Napoli v SS Lazio - Serie A Photo by Marco Rosi - SS Lazio/Getty Images

dallagente: Unless Juve signs someone unexpected up front, it’s hard to look beyond Ciro Immobile again. But if Duvan Zapata stays injury-free this season, then I’ll go with him.

ssciavillo: I’m going to go with Ciro. He’s been a model of consistency at Lazio and will be motivated to win a starting spot with Italy for Euro2021.

Bren: I’m going with Lukaku. He’s right in the middle of his prime years and should be the focal point of Inter’s attack, plus he has the benefit of Martinez to draw attackers away from him. I can’t see Immobile repeating last season’s feat, so give me Lukaku with...oh, 28.

Jimmy: Ciro Immobile, 30. I hate to give it to a Laziale, but he’s just that good.

6. Top assist man?

Frosinone Calcio v AS Roma - Pre-Season Friendly Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

dallagente: Papu Gomez or Paulo Dybala.

ssciavillo: Luis Alberto or Dybala.

Bren: It’s gotta be Papu in that high octane attack. The only question is how many? He has 27 combined over the past two seasons, so I think he can hit that average mark and set up 14 goals.

Jimmy: Lorenzo Pellegrini. Much love to the haters.

7. Which teams will get relegated?

Roberto Inglese of Parma Calcio in action during the pre-... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

dallagente: You know, I reckon all the ex-Roma boys at Spezia will survive the drop. I’m going to try and catch as many Marchizza, Capradossi and Ricci games as I can. I also reckon Benevento have a fighting chance. So it’s going to be Crotone and Parma going down, then a last-day relegation fight between Benevento and Verona. Ha.

ssciavillo: As much as I’d like to see all those Roma products staying up I think La Spezia will have a tough time. Also, going with newly promoted Crotone. As for the third team, if Udinese sell De Paul this could finally be the year we see them relegated.

Bren: Juventus. There’s another cheating scandal coming, but more likely Crotone, Benevento and I’ll agree that Udine go down if they sell De Paul.

Jimmy: Udinese, Parma, and Crotone. All I ask for is Venezia to replace one of them in Serie A in 2021. That would be wonderful.

8. Let’s get crazy: Who’s getting promoted?

AC Perugia v Pescara Calcio - Serie B Play-Out Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

dallagente: I thought I was getting crazy on the relegation predictions. I’ll go with Pordenone because my ex-girlfriend lives there, and Nesta’s Frosinone. Whoever grabs the last spot via playoffs will be down to whoever gets the best Roma loanee. Right now that’s Riccardi at Pescara but you’ve got Cosenza and Venezia pushing for Antonucci and Bouah.

ssciavillo: I’m going to go with Pescara since Riccardi is there and if they succeed I’d suspect as a big part of it. Then with my Pugliese heritage I’ll go with Lecce and Bari.

Bren: The only correct answer is Pescara. The other two are irrelevant, but just for fun, and to see some new names for the first time, why not Vicenza Virtus and Monza?

Jimmy: Well, I already mentioned Venezia, so I’ll add Pescara and Frosinone to the list.

9. Dybala took the honors last season, but who will be the ‘20-’21 MVP?

Juventus v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

dallagente: Whoever’s the most boring answer, since we know how the Lega thinks just two years into this award. No disrespect to Dybala, who’s the least boring of all Juventus players.

ssciavillo: The league loves to award Juve so I’ll go with a Dybala repeat.

Bren: Well Dybala was the League MVP but somehow not even MVP of his own team, so who knows? If Papu can do the double-double, he’d have my vote.

Jimmy: I thought it was going to be Zaniolo, oops. But given that he’s out of the running, I’ll give it to Cristiano Ronaldo. I doubt Dybala goes back to back.

10. Finally, predict the top four spots in the table.

Atalanta v Paris Saint-Germain - UEFA Champions League Quarter Final Photo by Rafael Marchante/Pool via Getty Images

dallagente: 1. Juventus 2. Inter Milan 3. Atalanta and 4…. My heart has to go with Roma.

ssciavillo: 1. Inter 2. Atalanta 3. Juve 4. Roma

Bren: 1.Inter, 2. Juve, 3. Atalanta, 4. AC Milan

Jimmy: 1. Juve, 2. Inter, 3. Atalanta, 4. Roma. 1/2 and 3/4 will be very tight, though, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Inter win the Scudetto or Roma in third.

Keep an eye out for part two tomorrow where we'll turn our focus to Roma.