Preview: Roma vs Inter
This Saturday night, 19 March 2016, Inter travel to the Stadio Olimpico to take on Roma in a season defining game for the Nerazzurri in the race to qualify for next season’s Champions League (kick-off 20:45CET).
Inter come into this game on the back of a 2-1 home win against a resolute Bologna side last weekend where it was important for the Nerazzurri to get the points to give the team momentum ahead of this game.
The match against Bologna started badly after Mauro Icardi sustained a knee injury in stretching to try to get on the end of an Eder cross and following the game it was revealed that the captain has a medial ligament injury and will likely miss the encounter in Rome.
Inter struggled to break down a solid Bologna until Rodrigo Palacio came on as a substitute. His entry woke Inter up as they had started to run out of ideas, it was like a dose of caffeine in the veins of the team and compared to Ljajic, who he replaced, he knew where to move and seemed to have a plan about what he was doing, this was pure football intelligence, however, the Argentine will be suspended against Roma after a lack of intelligence in picking up a stupid booking for kicking the ball away, something that a player of his experience shouldn’t be doing.
It was two set-plays from corners that won it for Inter in the end, with Perisic and D’Ambrosio scoring against a Bologna side who hadn’t conceded from a set-play all season. In turn it was Inter’s sixth and seventh goals this season from corners, a league high shared with Milan.
Encouraging news is that it seems Inter have put their form of January and February, where they achieved just 12 points, behind them and the Nerazzurri have won their first two games of March.
After the win against the Rossoblu, Inter sit in fifth place in the Serie A table, level on points with Fiorentina in fourth, after the Viola drew with Hellas last time out, and five points behind Roma in that all important third place.
Roma come into this game in fantastic form in Serie A with eight wins in a row. A major factor for the Giallorossi’s form has been the return of Luciano Spalletti as Coach, who replaced Rudi Garcia on 14 January this year.
The 57 year old hasn’t changed system or tactics that much but he has rejuvenated players like Mo Salah, Stephan El Shaarawy and Diego Perotti, who have been instrumental in getting the Giallorossi’s campaign back up and running when everything seemed to be falling apart under Garcia.
The form of the Giallorossi has even led to predictions in the Italian media that Spalletti’s team could possibly challenge Napoli for second place in Serie A, which would qualify Roma for the group stages of next season’s Champions League.
After last weekend’s results, Roma sit in third place, five points behind second placed Napoli, who they will face at the Stadio Olimpico at the end of April.
This will be an interesting match-up with both teams going all-out to win this game, Inter to cut the gap to Roma and the Giallorossi to knock the Nerazzurri out of the race for Champions League qualification.
Here is the Inter team news and probable line-up as reported by La Gazzetta dello Sport at the time of writing this article:
The latest news from La Gazzetta dello Sport is that Rodrigo Palacio is suspended and that Mauro Icardi will miss out through injury despite returning to training on Thursday. Stevan Jovetic is also expected to miss out through injury and there are concerns over the conditions of midfielders Marcelo Brozovic and Geoffrey Kondogbia after picking up knocks.
With this in mind Roberto Mancini is expected to line-up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Samir Handanovic in goal, Danilo D’Ambrosio at right back alongside a central defensive pairing of Joao Miranda and Jeison Murillo with Yuto Nagatomo at left back.
In midfield Gary Medel could be partnered by Felipe Melo given the condition of Brozovic and Kondogbia.
Jonathan Biabiany could be set for a start on the right wing with the in-form Ivan Perisic on the left and Adem Ljajic in the trequartista role behind Eder in the central striking role.
Probable Inter line-up (subject to change): (4-2-3-1) Handanovic; D’Ambrosio, Miranda, Murillo, Nagatomo; Medel, Melo; Biabiany, Ljajic, Perisic; Eder.
Bench: Carrizo, Berni, Juan Jesus, Santon, Telles, Gnoukouri, Brozovic, Kondogbia, Manaj.
Roma and Inter have faced each other on 82 occasions at the Stadio Olimpico in Serie A with the Giallorossi leading the stats with 33 wins to Inter’s 27 wins with 22 matches drawn.
In the overall Serie A records (home & away), Inter lead the stats with 71 wins to Roma’s 47 wins with 47 of the 165 meetings between the sides drawn.
In last season’s corresponding fixture at the Stadio Olimpico on 30 November 2014, Roma beat Inter 4-2 with goals from Gervinho, Holebas, Pjanic x2 (Roma) and Ranocchia, Osvaldo (Inter).
In the earlier fixture between the sides this season on 31 October 2015 at the San Siro, Inter won 1-0 with the goal coming from Gary Medel.
Inter haven’t beaten Roma at the Stadio Olimpico in Serie A since a 0-4 win on 19 October 2008 with the goals scored by Ibrahimovic x2, Stankovic and Obinna.
Since then there have been six league meetings between the teams in Rome with the Giallorossi winning four of those along with two draws.
Player to Watch: Ivan Perisic – The Croatian has really upped his performance recently and is starting to convince the fans that he is the real deal. Perisic has scored three goals and provided two assists in his last six league appearances.
My Prediction: Roma 0-1 Inter
Officials: Referee: Daniele Orsato Assistants: Cariolato, Meli
Fourth Official: De Luca Additional Assistants: Rocchi, Celi
Author’s Note: Despite the loss of Mauro Icardi I think Inter can win this game. It won’t be easy due to Roma’s form but as seen against Juventus in the Coppa Italia, the Nerazzurri are capable of pulling out all the stops as they did that night at the San Siro, which was also achieved without ‘Maurito’. This will also be a big game for Adem Ljajic, who will be facing his parent club with something to prove. Mancini’s ace up the sleeve however is Jonathan Biabiany, whose blistering pace should give Inter a good out-ball when countering. A win here would set Inter up nicely going into the last eight games but if Roma win, then it will most likely be curtains for Inter’s Champions League qualification hopes. The players must believe in themselves and cut out the mistakes.