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AS Roma Q&A: Bren from Chiesa di Totti

Bavarian Football Works asks Bren about AS Roma's chances against Bayern after their poor performance at home.

Paolo Bruno

Bayern Munich dominated AS Roma in their first encounter two weeks ago, but is that the team that will travel to Munich this week? To understand the state of where Roma currently is, Bavarian Football Works reached out to the managing editor of SB Nation's Roma blog Chiesa di Totti, Bren.

Here is what he had to say:

BFW: AS Roma have looked dominant in some matches and flaccid in others. At the end of the day, Roma has 22 points in Serie A and 4 points in three champions league matches. How do you think Roma has played this season? Have they showed a level consistency to you or are they up and down?

Bren: Look, we're in second place, only three points behind the three-time defending champions, Juventus, so we don't have too much ground for complaint. Having said that, something definitely seems different from last season when Roma won ten straight matches to start the season; so there have definitely been some ups and downs, particularly last weekend against Napoli. At this point, its a bit hard to say what the root cause may be, it could just as easily be simple fatigue (Roma haven't played in Europe in several years) and injuries as it is the league figuring out Garcia's tactics. We simply don't know at this point, but I lean towards the injuries, particularly in defense, which has forced Roma to rely on backups at nearly every position in defense, while our big summer signing, Juan Iturbe, has been in and out of the lineup this fall.

BFW: Roma's defense has almost completely changed from what it was a year ago with Konstantinos Manolas, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, Davide Astori and Ashley Cole coming in. Rudi Garcia has interchanged them frequently, and even though they have a relatively solid defensive record, they have given up 13 goals to Manchester City, Juventus, Bayern, and Napoli. Are you concerned with how prepared Roma's back four are for the bigger sides? Is Garcia preventing them from establishing a rapport with each other?

Bren: Once again, I think this has a lot to do with injuries and inexperience. Roma's top CB, Leandro Castan, hasn't featured this season and has even had to deny rumors that he has cancer, so he's been a huge absence. He is generally not a well known player, but statistically speaking, he stacks up quite well with Mehdi Benatia. Ditto for Maicon. He may not be what he was during his Inter Milan days, but he is miles ahead of anything Roma has had at rightback in years, and his absence is palpable each and every week. Beyond that, Davide Astori was brought in to be a third choice defender, but has been forced into the starting lineup...only to be injured himself, so Roma has had to rely on Manolas, who is awfully young, and Mbiwa, who just is not that good. I don't think it is a matter of Garcia swapping for the sake of it; he is simply had no choice in the matter.

BFW: Speaking of Maicon, he has been out for more than two weeks with a knee injury. When he is not in the team, Roma has a completely different dynamic on the right flank, and Roma has scored just three goals in four matches without him. How impactful is his absence? And is Vassilis Torosidis qualified to fill his shoes?

Bren: Full back in general has been a cause for concern in Roma for many, many, many years, so none of this is really surprising to us, unfortunately. Maicon was fantastic this year, and even if he showed a bit of regression this season, he's still the best option Roma has, whereas Torosidis is really best served as a backup/utility kind of player; he's just not good enough to compete as a week-in-week-out starter, certainly not in the Champions League. So I'd look for, or at least hope that, Roma spends big on the flanks this winter.

BFW: Francesco Totti has been with AS Roma for 21 years, more than half the time he has been alive for. What occupation do you think he would be good at if he was not a footballer? What is it like to imagine a Roma team that he is not a part of?

Bren: Hmm, its hard to imagine Totti as anything other than a footballer. Since he has historically poked fun at himself for his accent and reputed lack of intelligence, its hard to imagine him as a hedge fund manager, but he's a good looking, affable guy, so perhaps a TV personality of some sort? As far as Roma post-Totti...oof, we try not to think about that too much at CdT; the shape, form and personality of the team will change over night, but if things stay as they are, I'd look for Miralem Pjanić to take on a larger role or perhaps Adem Ljajić finally fulfilling his promise.

It is going to be tough, no doubt about it, but I wouldn't suddenly expect Roma to be a relegation candidate; we're already seeing the need to wean themselves off his services anyway, fatigue is a huge factor for him now.

Special thanks to Bren for answering our questions. Check out his work at Chiesa di Totti and be sure to follow him on twitter @brencdt.

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