The nerves were high as Inter went into their clash with Roma with two less points and fifteen less goals. The Giallorossi were in sublime form and came into the match on the back of five consecutive league victories. Inter recently turned around their winless streak with a win away against Bologna. This match was between the league’s best attack (Roma) and the best defense (Inter). Something had to give at the San Siro on Halloween night.
Roberto Mancini shocked everyone by dropping Mauro Icardi. Stevan Jovetic started with Adem Ljajic and Ivan Perisic in attack. Geoffrey Kondgbia was dropped, and Fredy Guarin, Gary Medel, and Marcelo Brozovic made up the midfield. Danilo D’Ambrosio made a surprise start, while Yuto Nagatomo started on the left side.
Roma were without Danielle De Rossi, so Antonio Rudiger slotted into the middle of defense. Mohammed Salah and Gervinho partnered Edin Dzeko in attack, while Miralem Pjanic played with Radja Nainggolan and Alessandro Florenzi in midfield.
The match got off to a slow start, as both sides did not want to give anything away so early in the match. Roma kept possession early on in the match, and they nearly took the lead on 15 minutes when Dzeko’s header from Digne’s cross was saved by a diving Handanovic. Eight minutes later Dzeko had the goal to himself, but was denied by a sliding D’Ambrosio. After that chance, Inter turned it up a gear and began to control the game. Ljajic and Jovetic moved very well together, while Brozovic was aiding the attack. In the 31st minute Jovetic held up the ball superbly, and laid it off to Medel, whose low powerful drive beat Szczesney. This goal gave Inter the confidence to control the rest of the half and head into the break with the advantage.
The first half was very even, and there were some pleasant surprises. D’Ambrosio was playing very well, and all of Roma’s joy in attack came on the other side of the pitch, where Gervinho gave Nagatomo headaches time and time again. Gary Medel looked fantastic in midfield alongside Marcelo Brozovic. The two helped Inter enter the second half in the lead.
In the second half Roma looked hungry to level the score. Gary Medel went off with a back injury and was replaced by Geoffrey Kondogbia. Minutes later the Frenchman gave the ball away in midfield, and Salah went through on goal. Murillo disrupted the Egyptian’s run, and Inter regained possession. Inter were bailed out by Handanovic in the 62nd minute, when the keeper saved Florenzi’s drive from distance and Salah’s rebound. Roma retained possession well, but were unable to carve out any further chances. In the 76th minute, Miralem Pjanic received a second yellow card for a hand ball as Roma were reduced to 10 men. One minute later, Szczesney produced a wonder stop to deny Brozovic’s scissor kick attempt. Inter had to power through the remaining 10 minutes of the match, and came out 1-0 winners against the league leaders.
After Medel’s injury, Murillo and Handanovic really stepped up to the plate. Brozovic’s energy was fantastic in midfield. This match must leave Mancini with a lot to think about. Should Icardi start? Should D’Ambrosio play? Should Kondogbia play? There are too many questions! Now Inter are the league leaders, and need to keep up the good form. It is imperative that the team gets behind one another for every game. Players like Kondogbia and Icardi must raise their level in order to return to the starting 11. Overall, Inter secured a hard fought 1-0 victory against Roma with a good performance. Inter are top of the table!