As I’ve said before, one of the joys of working for SB Nation is being able to track down folks who are much smarter than I am and write about other teams. For this one, I was able to get ahold of BrenCdT of Chiesa di Totti; besides being excellent on Twitter, Bren is the Lord Commander (not making this up) at the AS Roma site, and a maven of all things Giallorossi. Here’s our conversation.
Viola Nation: What’s the feeling in the Roma camp heading into this one? Getting beaten by Bologna and SPAL isn’t exactly great, but easy wins in the Champions League and a huge win over Lazio, as well as a decent draw with Napoli, are all good results. Are the players focused, nervous, or something else entirely?
BrenCdT: Well, I can’t speak to the actual Roma players of course, but our corner of the Romaverse is as scattered as ever. We’re known for our extremes or reactions, but as your question proved, it’s warranted in a way! They’ve been incredibly hard to peg down this year. They’re top five in shots on target, shot accuracy and conversion rate, yet they’re mired in ninth place. The defense hasn’t been terribly crisp, but they’re still above water, so I’m afraid I don’t have a clear answer for you, which kind of says it all. It’s partly poor timing, a poor home record and EDF waiting too long to change tactics.
VN: What lineup and tactics do you expect from Eusebio di Francesco? Any big surprises in the offing? Will he sit deeper than usual facing a Fiorentina side that’s tough at home, or do you expect him to set out positively?
BrenCdT: Well, I think (or at least hope) that at this point the 4-2-3-1 is here to say; it’s far and away they’re best look. However, we’re looking at a lot of injuries ahead of this fixture, so the names and faces should be slightly different, with Bryan Cristante likely filling in for De Rossi and Ivan Marcano slotting in for Manolas. Ultimately, they need a win, so I hope they’re aggressive.
VN: Who’s been in good form recently for Roma? Who do you think will trouble Fiorentina the most? Conversely, is anyone struggling?
BrenCdT: Well, this sort of hearkens back to the first question—the inconsistency. Lorenzo Pellegrini has been revelation in his more advanced role, while De Rossi and Manolas have been vital to whatever defensive rigidity Roma has. On the flip side, Edin Dzeko has been hot and cold, ditto for Cengiz Under and pretty much everyone in attack. If Roma are to take three points in this fixture, it’ll likely be down to Pellegrini and Dzeko; can the former create and the latter score?
VN: Which Fiorentina players are you most anxious about facing, if any? Who do you think EdF will target? What are the matchups to watch?
BrenCdT: I mean, come on—Chiesa, full stop. If he’s not the future of Italy, I don’t know who is. With Manolas questionable, Marcano is ripe for the picking at the back; he’s just not that good and Chiesa could tear him to pieces. Then, of course, there is Gerson, who was woefully mishandled by Roma; I’m sure he’ll have a point to prove on Saturday.
VN: Finally, it’s prediction time. What’s the final score, who gets the goals, and what’s the overall tenor of the match?
BrenCdT: Well, Roma have held serve over their past several encounters, but given their current erratic state we can’t simply assume that form will carry over. I’ll say a wild 2-2 draw, with one team staging a second half comeback. Goals...hmm. Chiesa, Veretout, Dzeko and Under.
Thanks, Bren. Yall are great, and we wish you nothing but the best outside of Saturday and 3 April 2019.