Into the Calderón: AS Roma lost one of its most important players over the summer in Mo Salah. How has the club gone about replacing him?
Chiesa di Totti: Uhh, next question please! After spending the entire summer chasing Leicester City's Riyad Mahrez, Roma gave up in their quest of finding a nominal replacement for Salah. However, they went big for an indirect and relatively inexperienced replacement in the form of Patrik Schick. He'll be an odd fit on the right wing, if he indeed does play there, but he is an intriguing prospect to say the least. In the short run, they're forcing Gregoire Defrel to play out of position, which, um, hasn't worked thus far.
ItC: As an extension of that, Monchi is now in charge of the club's transfers, and LaLiga fans are very familiar with his work. How would you analyze his first summer?
CdT: It's been surprisingly controversial, largely because of his failed pursuit of Mahrez. Throw in the €23m he spent on Defrel, who is being played out of position, and the 19 he spent on right back Rick Karsdorp, who was injured, and people began to question his genius. However, as with all things, time will tell; he snapped up some intriguing young prospects, which is how he made his name to begin with, so we could be sitting pretty in a few years. But honestly, the team he inherited was pretty solid, so his m.o. appeared to be adding depth and building for the future. In terms of sales, for my money, he didn't get enough money for Salah or Antonio Rüdiger, but that's nitpicking.
ItC: What are your thoughts on Roma's start to the season? Good, bad, meh?
CdT: Bad. This weekend's match was rained out, so we've only got two matches from which to judge. The first, an ugly 1-0 victory over Atalanta, was hardly impressive, while their last match, a 3-1 blowout to their former manager Luciano Spalletti and Inter Milan was quite ugly; they dominated for 50 minutes then just completely fell apart. It's far too early to judge, but the transition between managers is sputtering thus far.
ItC: For the uninitiated, who are Roma's key players?
CdT: Pound for pound, Roma's best player is Radja Nainggolan, who we'd rate as one of the top five midfielders in the game; he's just so tenacious and well rounded, everything Roma does starts and ends with him. Beyond him, Kevin Strootman, Daniele De Rossi and Edin Dzeko are the marquee names, the latter was Serie A's leading scorer last year. There are many intriguing role players — Diego Perotti, Federico Fazio and Stephan El Shaarawy, to name a few — but Radja is the straw that stirs the drink.
ItC: What do Roma have to do to win to beat Atlético on Tuesday?
CdT: I don't know, we'd take any advice you can give! Roma's backline has a tendency to play pretty high, and if we're being honest, they're not really suited to Eusebio Di Francesco's tactics, and with the pace and talent in Atlético Madrid's attack, things could get ugly real quick. So if the midfield can dictate the pace of play and Dzeko capitalizes on his chances, Roma might have a chance to grit out a one-niller.
ItC: Can you see the giallorossi getting out of the group?
CdT: Honestly I can, of course it all depends on taking points from either Atlético or Chelsea on the road and holding the fort at home and sweeping that other team I can't spell off the top of my head [Qarabag]. Tough, but doable.
ItC: Scoreline prediction?
CdT: Hmm, I'm going to get crazy here. Roma 2, Atlético 1.