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Roma at the Quarter-Pole: Strengths, Weaknesses & What Comes Next

With 10 Serie A matches in the books, we take a look at where Roma stands and what to expect over the coming weeks and months.

AS Roma v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

With 10 matches officially in the books, we are now a quarter of the way through the 2021-2022 Serie A Season. Okay, technically we're 25.6% of the way through the season, but we won't let a measly little six-tenths of a percentage point stop us from assessing Roma's early season successes and struggles. After missing out on Champions League qualification in successive seasons, most insiders were pessimistic of Roma’s chances for success this season, but the selection of José Mourinho as the club's new manager changed that calculus...dramatically.

Following Roma's quick start to the season, expectations around the Eternal City soon increased, with the S-word even being whispered in certain optimistic corners. That talk was quelled following the club's dismal showing against Bodø in the Conference League earlier this month and the dis-ease that followed, but the Giallorossi managed to save face by playing undefeated Napoli to a scoreless draw before mounting a second-half comeback to defeat Cagliari yesterday.

With 28 matches left on the calendar, there is ample time for Mourinho to establish and maintain a firm identity for his first Roma squad, but in the meantime, we assembled the crew to take the temperature in the room now that the first quarter of the season has officially come and gone.

Before we delve into that, however, a quick look at where Roma ranks after 10 league matches.

Attacking Rankings

  • 18 goals forced (ranks 6th)
  • 18.1 expected goals (ranks 2nd)
  • 170 shots (ranks 1st)
  • 44 shots on target (ranks 5th)
  • 25.9% shot accuracy (ranks 20th)
  • 128 key passes (ranks 1st)
  • 98 passes into the penalty area (ranks 5th)
  • 339 progressive passes (ranks 7th)
  • 53.6% possession (ranks 7th)

Defensive Rankings

  • 10 goals conceded (ranks 3rd)
  • 10.8 expected goals allowed (ranks 3rd)
  • 95 shots allowed (ranks 4th)
  • 40 shots on target allowed (ranks 11th)
  • 42.1% shot accuracy allowed (ranks 20th)
  • 46.1% of dribbles tackles (ranks 3rd)
  • 28.5% pressure success rate (ranks 9th)

Ten games aren't enough to draw any definitive conclusions about José Mourinho's approach this season, but a few things jump out immediately: Roma is simultaneously the league's least accurate shooting squad while also allowing the most accurate shots, at least in terms of percentage rates. It will be interesting to check back in with those figures 10 weeks from now because it's not really having a dramatic effect on the bottom line: Roma's xG and xGA are within decimal points of their actual goals scored and conceded. But how long can we expect that to hold?

Defensively speaking, despite not pressing much (Roma are mid-table in total pressures), they have been pretty successful while doing so, winning the ball back nearly 30% of the time. And given their high possession rate, Roma doesn't have many opportunities to tackle, but they've been remarkably efficient dispossessing ball carriers, stripping them of possession 46% of the time.

Roma has been pretty efficient in most areas through 10 matches, but their shooting and finishing woes should concern us all, especially when you consider that the bulk of their offensive output is coming from the midfield; the forwards simply have not been up to snuff lately. Defensive help is on the horizon with the impending returns of Leonardo Spinazzola and Chris Smalling, but Mourinho may need to shake things up in attack to correct the club's finishing issues.

Okay, enough with the stats, let's bring the CdT crew into the room for a broader discussion. Enjoy and please give us your input in the comments!

Please note: These questions and answers were submitted prior to the Cagliari match, so any stats mentioned are through Matchday 9.

At this point in time, Mourinho’s rotations are clear: It’s the starting lineup then SES then Shomurodov. Whether it’s tactics or mixing and matching those 13 names, what must Mourinho do to ensure this limited setup works for the next two months?

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

Bren: Other than the obvious (keeping them healthy), if he truly is going to only rely on 13 or so players, then some sort of micro-rotation might help. Something along the lines of sitting one of the forwards and giving a spot start to SES or Shomurodov, just to keep players like Abraham or Zaniolo as fresh as possible. I happen to think Roma is deeper than he suggests, but if he’s only going to wade so far into Roma’s talent pool, he needs to find some way to keep those dozen players fresh.

Apart from that, a subtle formation change could afford further rest to some of Mourinho’s key players.

ssciavillo: I don’t know if it’s possible to rely on just 13 (maybe 14 players if Smalling gets fit) until January, especially when you consider that the only two subs in that 13 are attacking players in SES and Shomurdov. First off, I feel like it’s inevitable that someone will miss time somewhere either through injury or suspension. Nevertheless, if the plan is to play just those 13 players where does the rest come from for the fullbacks and central midfielders?

I guess Pellegrini could be used to spell Veretout or Cristante with Mkhitaryan or Zaniolo sliding central. But man, I feel like at least two more players like Darboe and Calafiori have to get a start here or there to make things manageable in defense and midfield.

JonAS: I’d give Mourinho the same advice as Daniel Craig gave to his successor in the James Bond franchise: Just don’t fuck it up. If José wants to play hardball, fine, but he must know the consequences: He’s gonna run his team and especially the fullbacks and central midfielders into the ground.

Ok, so he’s not a fan of Villar, Reynolds, Diawara, or Kumbulla. Guess what José, you’re stuck with them until at least New Year. Then you’ll get your shiny new toy (Zakaria). If we lose Veretout, Mancini, or Karsdorp due to an injury, will he remain his stubborn old self? Then again, I think he just might. After the Bodø disaster, José would rather field Tripi, Bove, or Zalewski than Borja or Villar. Hell, there’s a bigger chance Santon or Fazio might redeem themselves. But they won’t give us three points vs Atalanta, Inter, or Milan.

Jimmy Miotto: Prayer? Animal sacrifice? A super-soldier serum to turn Cristian Totti into the next Avenger? I’m honestly not entirely sure. As everyone said, there are going to be injuries and suspensions; if it’s at the wrong position, Mourinho will be forced to play some of his castaways (Max Kumbulla is already back in the side because of Chris Smalling’s continuous injury issues). I agree with Steven, if most players on the senior bench are personae non gratae, we’ll probably see Calafiori and Darboe here and there, and maybe even some of the Primavera kids like Zalewski. No pressure, kids.

BSanti: Oof, I’m not sure that this setup will work until January. As mentioned above, there’s a distinct possibility that one or more players will be unavailable at some point over the next couple months, whether it be through injury or suspension, and given Roma’s awful luck with injuries, it’s a bold gamble by Mourinho to ride with only 13 or 14 players. I think this three-game window of Napoli, Cagliari, and Milan will be a good indicator of how successful this strategy will be—if he goes with the same eleven for all three matches.

Imagine a stranger in a Roma shirt came up to you and boldly claimed that Bryan Cristante is Roma’s most important player. Not the best, just the most important. How would you react and why?

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

ssciavillo: While I feel that there are more important players to Roma, I think there could be a legitimate argument made for Cristante. For one, this guy can fill many different roles for the side and do them fairly well. Plus, his injury record has been very good over the course of his career. Throw in his leadership abilities and that stranger may have a case.

I guess we can say beauty is in the eye of the beholder and if you’re someone who values sacrificing for the good of the side then nobody does that more than Cristante on the current Roma. The guy has been in the capital under the tutelage of three different managers and he’s never consistently been played in the role he played when he broke out at Atalanta. So, all things considered, he does provide a lot of value to the side, even if he’s not the best or most talented player in any Roma starting XI.

Bren: Well, assuming this stranger is respecting social distancing guidelines, I’d agree with him, which isn’t shocking considering I came up with this question..haha. But you hit on the reason behind this question: his versatility.

If Mourinho is going to stick with those core 13 players, Cristante’s versatility and passing ability could theoretically unlock a few small lineup permutations. If, for example, Lorenzo Pellegrini needed a rest, you can push Cristante up the pitch, move Mancini into the DM spot and either play three at the back or, if Smalling is fit, have Smalling and Ibañez as the central pairing.

His ability to play anywhere from center-back to defensive mid to attacking mid opens up a lot of possibilities for Mourinho, so in that light, he is the most important player on the squad. Not the best, or even close to it, but he’s slowly becoming the prototypical glue guy; the unsung hero whose role allows other players to flourish. I think if we removed him from the equation, the product on the pitch would suffer noticeably.

JonAS: Oh c’mon, no one would laugh at the poor man, Jim-Carrey-in-Ace-Ventura-style? Well, then I’ll do it. Why? Because to me Mancini, SES, Ibanez, Veretout, Pellegrini, Mikhi, Tammy, or Zaniolo are equally as important as Bryan. Some are even more important.

I’m not saying he’s a bad player. Far from it. He’s a good utility man and never complains but just because Bryan can (decently) play in different positions doesn’t mean he’s ‘the most important one’. Ibanez/Smalling are better CB’s than Bryan, Veretout arguably a better midfielder, and Pellegrini a better CAM. There are other guys on the team who are also versatile. Mancini as DM, Ibanez at LB, SES, and Mikhi can play in different attacking positions. Roma will need Cristante, that’s for sure. But if Zakaria arrives, I think Cristante will have a hard time getting into the XI.

Jimmy: When it comes to Bryan Cristante, I’m more on the bren side of things than the JonAS side. If anything, I’ve grumbled here and there when Cristante has been played out of position, not because he was unable to adapt but because his potential where he’s most comfortable is to be an incredibly important player for club and country. That adaptability is key to the team’s overall performance, but I still hope that Cristante gets a good run where he feels most comfortable. It might shut up the anti-Cristante boo birds for a bit.

Cristante’s man of the match performance against Napoli this past weekend is what I see as his best-case scenario in Mourinho’s tactics, and if he’s able to find the net again like he did with Atalanta (maybe by moving him up the pitch as Mkhitaryan tires himself out) he could become an Italian version of Peak Kevin Strootman for this side. Add in how integral he seems to be for the locker room, and that makes him the best big-money purchase of the Monchi Era, not that there’s too much competition for that title.

BSanti: *insert Mr. Burns laughing montage here* Um, my answer would be no. Look, I won’t argue that Cristante isn’t a very important player for Roma, for all the reasons discussed above, he absolutely is. But Roma’s MOST important? I’m sorry, but the answer is no. Pellegrini, Patricio, Mancini, and Ibanez are more or less the players that Roma’s results are dependent on at the moment, often how they go so goes Roma. Any of that quartet has a particularly bad game, Roma are in trouble. Conversely, when any of those four have a monster game, Roma typically does well. Like I said, Cristante is an extremely valuable member of the squad, but he isn’t close to Roma’s most important player at this point in time.

Through 9 matches, Roma sits in fourth place while also sporting the fourth-best goal differential (+7), but yet neither the attack nor defense feels like it’s truly clicked yet. So which unit worries you more: attack or defense?

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

ssciavillo: Based on the last two matches against top sides in Napoli and Juventus, the defense has me feeling pretty good. The backline and midfield did a heck of a job against star players like Osimhen, Chiesa, and Insigne. That being said when the team focuses on shutting down other teams’ stars, it has to commit to a more defensive approach, limiting Veretout’s forays forward.

That approach puts more pressure on the four attacking players on the pitch (usually Abraham, Pellegrini, Mkhitaryan, and Zaniolo) to create and finish chances. And as we saw against two of the top defenses in those same two matches Roma struggled to score. The chances came against Napoli, which means Roma aren’t completely lost in attack. However, I am slightly more concerned about the attack being able to score enough in these matches against big sides that Roma can’t play open against like they did in some of their higher scoring outputs this season.

Bren: Excellent points and my knee-jerk response was defense, given Smalling’s injuries and the lack of depth at full-back, but Roma haven’t exactly burned a hole in the back of the net lately, so the offense has become somewhat of a concern, at least in terms of its ability to score more than one goal consistently over the past few matches. That is probably me being a prisoner of the moment, but you’re right: look how great they did bottling Napoli’s vaunted attack.

We’re already seeing Mourinho adapt to injuries in defense (Smalling, Spinazzola, etc.) but I’m not sure he’d have quite as much success if the attack suffered similar injuries. Considering that and their mini dry spell at the moment and I’m more concerned about the attack. But once Abraham and Zaniolo truly get off the schnide, I think we’ll see the goals start to flow.

JonAS: Yeah, in the beginning, the combo Pellegrini-Abraham started out bright while our defense was still struggling but now it seems it’s the other way around. But I think we shouldn’t be too afraid about our offense. Bodø was a fluke while Juventus and Napoli are two of the toughest opponents possible. Like Bren said, Abraham just needs a goal or two to get on track, just like Zaniolo. Relax, their moments will come.

That said, Mourinho isn’t afraid to put up a wall against bigger opponents so it damages our offensive output anyway. We’ll have to live with this I suppose. Banking on a 0-0 like Napoli or playing it safe although being 1-0 behind in Juve, afraid to concede one or two more goals...

Jimmy: I’m not worried about Roma’s offense per se; we saw in the first couple of matches of the season that these players were entirely capable of turning on the heat. Still, I would say that offense is certainly where this side has the most room to grow. Watching the Napoli match last weekend in particular, it was frustrating to see a good number of offensive plays that made sense and should have ended in goals only end in the football hitting the side netting or skying over the goalkeeper.

The fact that the tactics and team awareness seem to be there is encouraging; it makes it far more likely that it’s just bad luck holding back Roma’s offensive firepower. Add in the fact that one of Roma’s most potent attacking players (that’s Nicolò Zaniolo) hasn’t scored in Serie A yet, but not for lack of trying, and I’m positive that the generally rock-solid defense will be complemented by solid offensive output in the near future.

BSanti: The offense, for now. Earlier in the season, I would’ve easily said the defense given the lack of depth, but Roma have struggled to get goals lately, and the offensive depth has seriously come into question. We recently discussed on Across the Romaverse whether or not Roma threw too much money at the offense over the summer, but the offensive struggles suggest that maybe there’s still more room to invest.

Good or bad, which player’s performance has surprised you the most through the first 25% of the season?

AS Roma v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Silvia Lore/Getty Images

ssciavillo: I’m going to have to say that I’ve been impressed with Tammy Abraham. I know we spent a boatload of cash on him this summer, but he’s been a much better all-around than I expected. Strikers are usually judged on their goalscoring and Tammy only has four goals in all comps so far. But, he does so much more for the team than score goals—from holding the ball up to winning aerial duels to dribbling past opponents to tracking back on defense—Tammy does it all. Now, let’s hope some of those six posts start going into the net going forward rather than adding to the woodwork totals.

Bren: That’s the logical answer, but just to be different I’ll say Pellegrini. We already knew he was an above-average talent, but this season he’s legitimately making a claim to be one of the 10 best players in the league, thanks in large part to his newfound scoring touch. He’s been the biggest beneficiary of the managerial switch thus far and could be the club’s first bona fide star in years.

JonAS: I’m going to get a lot of slack for saying this but: Karsdorp. Yeah, Tammy and Pellegrini are flashy and all. But they can be replaced by Shomudorov, SES, or Mikhi when needed. Enough options. While Karsdorp has been our one-man-army at right-back since August, hasn't been injured yet and has done a serviceable job until now. Well, he hasn’t been horrible, which is more than we can ask from him.

I really thought he would already be sidelined by now after playing 90 minutes every week. If Tammy goes down, ok that sucks but we’ll manage. If Rick goes down, oh boy then we have a major problem. Imagine Reynolds as our main RB now until January? Get the picture?

Jimmy: It’s okay JonAS, I won’t hate on your questionable love of Rick Karsdorp here, partially because it’s lonely on the “I Still Believe in Bryan Reynolds” island right now. My actual answer to this question has to be Lorenzo Pellegrini, because as bren said, he’s becoming a superstar before our very eyes. He’s been slightly more unlucky in front of goal for the past two weeks, but even still, he’s looking like one of the best attacking midfielders in Italy and Europe right now. At age 25, he still has at least two to three years until I would say he’s at his peak, and this explosion seems perfectly timed to garner Pellegrini a starting spot in Italy’s World Cup squad. I still have faith that Zaniolo and Abraham have just as high ceilings as Pellegrini, and I’ve been really impressed with Abraham’s transition to Serie A, but for now it’s clear that Lorenzo is the star of the show.

BSanti: It’s a toss-up between Abraham and Pelligrini for me, but I think I have to lean Abraham on this one. Joining a new league, in a new country, with a new language, is a daunting task for any young player, yet Abraham has taken this opportunity and ran with it, quickly becoming a fan favorite in just a few months. We were all nervous on how this club would replace Dzeko, but it seems like we’ve found the perfect replacement in Abraham.

Following that, toot your own horn: which one of your pre-season predictions looks spot on so far, and what must the club do to either sustain or correct that?

AS Roma v SSC Napoli - Serie A Photo by Giuseppe Bellini/Getty Images

ssciavillo: Granted it is early and there’s a lot of season left to play, but Roma is right in the mix for the top four like I predicted it would be. I’ve seen nothing to make me think the Giallorossi won’t be in the mix to qualify for the Champions League late into the season as Mourinho continues to build the team and eventually (hopefully Sunday against Milan) gets a big win against a top side to really build confidence and springboard the team moving forward.

Bren: Well, so far my predictions about Rui Patricio were spot on. We’ve seen some genuinely remarkable saves and a strong command of the penalty area but we’ve also seen some intermittent bouts of hesitancy and lack of aggression. He’s top 10 in save percentage and total saves but 16th in PSxG+/- and 20th in cross stopping percentage. I suspect this pattern will continue throughout the season and at the end of the day, he’ll be an average keeper overall. There’s certainly nothing wrong with that, but we have to remember that he is, at best, a two to three-year solution.

JonAS: I reread the Roma Questionnaire Roma Preview from August and… I haven’t really found anything useful in my answers. In the name of the Holy Bren, Chris and Dhaw, I am not worthy!

Wait! I did speak about giving Zaniolo time to regain his confidence and return to his former self so that’s that I suppose. Nico hasn’t exactly set Serie A on fire so far. But he’s slowly but surely getting there so Roma and José are handling his situation well.

Jimmy: Well, after the Bodø/Glimt match, it seems like I was spot on in predicting a “no excuses” style of managing for José Mourinho, hah. I’d also say that I’m happy to acknowledge that Tammy Abraham has taken the pressure of being the club’s most expensive transfer in stride and quickly become a key member of the squad (and seemingly quite friendly with most of the other key guys). I was hoping for Champions League qualification this season, and we’re right there so far, so there’s not too much I can kvetch about.

BSanti: Since I wasn’t back with CdT in time for the August Preview I really can say anything and nobody can fact check me, right? In all seriousness though, my main prediction going into the season was that Roma would be in the race for a top four finish throughout the entirety of the season, and so far, so good. I’ve seen nothing to dissuade me from that prediction, so I think as long as the Giallorossi continue to take care of business against the smaller clubs and play well against the top sides, they’ll be right there come the end of the season.

Over the past week or so, we’ve dealt with more Mourinho controversy than at any other point in his brief tenure. Explain to us the psychology of his press conferences and his red card against Napoli. Are these calculated ploys to motivate the squad or a harbinger of more controversy to come?

Cagliari Calcio v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

ssciavillo: I’m hoping that it’s calculated on his part to motivate the squad, especially the second team players in training. We can all agree that Roma has a clear difference in the talent level of the first XI vs the second XI on this side. But, I find it hard to believe that none of the players who were in hot water after the Bodo match are individually that bad that they can’t be of any use to this side during a busy calendar.

Mourinho continues to reiterate that this is a project, so hopefully, this is the early phase of Mourinho weeding out the mental midgets who can’t respond well to some adversity and criticism. If it’s more of the latter and it’s just the beginning of a controversy-filled season then I’m afraid to see where it goes.

Bren: Hmm, that’s difficult to say. Certainly, the sending-off was a heat-of-the-moment reaction and one that caught several managers last weekend in Serie A, but I think his public vs. private comments regarding the quality of the squad may have been pre-meditated. After all, look what it accomplished: it deflected the club’s poor performance against Bodø and made him the center of controversy, freeing his players from the media spotlight, if only for a few hours.

JonAS: I do think these moves are calculated. José Mourinho has a certain status and he knows he can get away with a lot of things in Italian media. He thrives from these confrontations, it’s like these controversies feed him.

He might throw his second XI under the bus but his starters (aka Pellegrini, Mancini, Tammy, Mikhi, Zaniolo, etc) are safe and sound under his wings and he’ll protect them at any cost. He’s a cunning fox, he won’t do these things if he knows it won’t motivate his players.

Jimmy: I think it’s a little of both, even though that’s the boring answer. Getting sent off did redirect the story away from the Bodø massacre, sure, and the Cagliari match is the easiest one for Mourinho to miss for an outburst, but also... that was a terrible no-call that led to Mourinho’s histrionics, and we all know that Mourinho has a history of being somewhat temperamental. I agree that his main goal is to motivate the players he thinks can be motivated into performing to his standard; still, I’d love to see an “All or Nothing” style of documentary about his Roma in the future, to really get to the bottom of how much of this is premeditated.

BSanti: “Respect, man, respect.” The recent controversy with Mourinho is absolutely a calculated move to motivate the squad. I think if it was the latter option, we would’ve received more divisive comments from Mourinho following the losses to Verona, Lazio, and Juve. Instead, after each of those defeats, Mourinho has said all the right things, praising his players and their performances even in defeat. For now, I think we can chalk up his Bodø comments as a one-off designed to motivate the squad following an absolutely dreadful performance.

Despite their positive goal differential, Roma have been pretty wasteful in their shot attempts this season and have hit more than their fair share of posts. What, if anything, can be done to correct this, or is it just an early season anomaly?

Cagliari Calcio v AS Roma - Serie A Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

ssciavillo: I think the posts can be credited to some bad luck. However, the shooting percentage could be a combination of things. One could be just poor accuracy, but it could also be that Roma takes a higher volume of shots from more difficult positions than other sides. So, I’m sure there are some caveats to the stats. However, I think it does have to be remedied a bit if Roma is going to improve moving forward because as we saw in the Napoli match, you may only have one or two chances and if you don’t finish them, you won’t score.

Bren: Well, through their first nine games, Roma’s average shot attempt comes from 16 yards out, the third-closest mark in the league so far, so they seem to be finding high-percentage shot areas but they’re only out-performing their xG by 0.4. The problem seems to be that Roma’s highest-volume shooters so far, Pellegrini/Abraham/Zaniolo, are putting an average of 22% of their shots on target. That has to change, particularly for Abraham—his career mark is well over 50%, so I think some of his will even out as the season progresses.

JonAS: Stop. Aiming. At. The. Damn. Post. It’s not that hard, it’s two tall white poles and a net, shoot between those two and you’re fine. Why make this hard for yourself, Tammy?

Jimmy: It’s an anomaly, particularly for Abraham and Zaniolo. I’m confident that by the next time we do one of these roundtables, it won’t be an issue.

BSanti: Yeah, I don’t think anything can be done to correct this misfortune in front of goal, particularly the chances hitting the post. At some point, Roma’s luck will turn and these chances will start going in. At least, I hope so, for Tammy’s sake.

Give us one player outside of Mourinho’s top 12-13 who could possibly make a difference before the transfer window opens.

AS Roma Training Session Photo by Luciano Rossi/AS Roma via Getty Images

ssciaviilo: I know this may be going out on a limb, but I think it could be Leonardo Spinazzola. It seems from all reports that his recovery from the Achilles tendon injury has been going well and if he’s fit enough to play even a limited role by the end of November, I think Mourinho could integrate him immediately. I don’t think he can be a regular starter before the market opens, but he certainly could be an impact sub either at fullback or even possibly at wingers. Just imagine a fresh Leo Spinazzola running at tired defenses in the last 15-20 minutes of matches. That’s more dangerous than anything Mou has on the bench right now.

Bren: Yeah, that’s a good call but a risky one in my eyes given how serious his injury was. I’m not expecting the real Spinazzola to reappear until next season. Considering that, I’ll say that Carles Pérez, on athleticism alone, deserves a larger role—or any role, if we’re being honest. If the club needs a goal with 10 minutes to go, his speed, agility, and burst could be the difference. I’m not sure Mourinho would ever trust him as a regular starter but as an instant attacking injection, he fits the bill perfectly.

JonAS: The Spanish guys? No. Diawara? Meh. Kumbulla? Nah. Reynolds? Nope. Calafiori? Pass, Vina looks ok and Spina will return soon. Honestly, I rather see Davide Santon making a comeback as our vice Karsdorp out of plain necessity. And there’s a chance it could work. Even better, he could save Pinto and the Friedkins some money and problems in the next transfer window so Roma can go all out for that DM.

Jimmy: Hah, Davide Santon, that’s a good one Jonas. I’ll learn how to make Belgian-style fries if he gets back in the squad, which might not sound like much of a sacrifice, but it would undo a good number of my cycling workouts, so I’d be losing something. I’d be worried if Spinazzola got added back to the squad too quickly, so I’m going to push Riccardo Calafiori as the answer here. He’s actually looked pretty good here and there when he’s gotten the chance, and he certainly wasn’t in the bottom five of Roma players in the Bodø/Glimt match. Add in the fact that Viña seems to pick up little injuries here and there (particularly after playing for Uruguay) and it wouldn’t shock me if we feel like left-back is overstaffed by March.

BSanti: Great question. I’m going to agree with Bren here and say Carles Pérez as well. Mourinho seems to trust him the most outside of the 13-14 players he uses regularly, so by virtue of that alone Carles is best primed to make a difference between now and January. Will Carles Pérez be up for it? Well, the jury’s still out on that one.

10 matches from now, where is Roma on the table and what are we saying about the club at the end of 2021?

Official Serie A matchball Nike Flight is seen prior to the... Photo by Nicolò Campo/LightRocket via Getty Images

ssciavillo: Roma is sitting fourth in the table with one of the four best defenses and attacks in the league. We’re praising Mourinho’s work with a roster that has proven to be more limited than we even imagined it was prior to the season.

Bren: Provided everyone remains healthy over the next two months, I think we’re in the same boat as we are now: watching the table every single week. I just don’t think the team, as presently constructed, is going to pull away from the fourth place pack just yet, so I’m expecting a neck-and-neck race from here on out with clubs like Lazio, Atalanta, Juventus, and possibly even Fiorentina. If, however, everyone remains healthy and players like Abraham and Zaniolo can find some more efficiency in front of goal, we might see Roma start to pull away from those clubs.

JonAS: Milan and Napoli are too far ahead. I don’t see Inter collapsing just yet. So it’s gonna be somewhere between fourth and seventh, battling it out with Juventus, Lazio and Atalanta. Worst case scenario: Even if we were in seventh place, the differences won’t be huge so I predict CL qualification is still a realistic objective for 2022.

Jimmy: My prediction to start the season is my prediction now: we’ll be top four, maybe top three if certain players find their goalscoring boots. The defense looks strong and the Veretout-Cristante midfield pivot seems to be working (at least if the Derby Del Sole is any indication). Milan doesn’t scare me, and I think that Napoli losing points might cause problems in the same way that Rudi Garcia’s Roma finally losing points did all those years ago. The top four is up in the air, and it’s a fun feeling.

BSanti: Still in the top four. Looking at the next 10 league matches, you’d have Roma as the favorite in all of them save for the matches against Atalanta and Inter. Now, this is Roma we’re following, so I don’t expect them to win every game outside of the Atalanta and Inter matches, but they absolutely should win enough of those to maintain the status quo.

Thanks for reading and look for a similar piece at the halfway point later this year. While we wait, let us know your impressions of the first 10 matches of the season.


Compared to your expectations, how have Roma performed through 10 league matches?

This poll is closed

  • 31%
    Better than I imagined
    (69 votes)
  • 4%
    Worse than I imagined
    (11 votes)
  • 56%
    About what I expected
    (125 votes)
  • 7%
    I'm hungry. Will there be lunch served?
    (17 votes)
222 votes total Vote Now