For the past decade, clashes between Inter and Roma always ended up in thrilling encounters, entertaining football and numerous goals. This time was no exception as we witnessed four goals and many more chances. This is what we’ve learned from the match at the Stadio Olimpico
Rome was not built in a day
Was the draw against Roma a step forward or backward? Critics easily point out that Inter failed to beat a Roma side without many key players as Dzeko, El Sharaawi, De Rossi and Fazio were all injured. The more optimistic highlighted that a draw obtained in Rome against direct rivals for a Champions League spot is not to be underestimated.
Here, speaking of Rome, we must remember the famous-old saying that ‘Rome was not built in a day,’ and neither will be Inter. Last year we qualified to Europe with a last-gasp fourth place finish. Right now, we are third with four points advantage on fourth place, five points away from Lazio, and a substantial 9 points above Roma. Yes, maybe we could have controlled the game better, but the most important thing for Inter was not to lose and let Roma close the gap.
The hunger to win
My anger was directed at a different aspect: our approach. What frustrated me was that in the second half, Inter did not have the right anger and determination to outclass Roma. And having seen Inter’s recent performances I firmly believed that with some more passion and grit Inter could have easily snatched a win. In this regard, the absence of Nainggolan was an important factor.
Have you seen Perisic?
Another notable absence was Ivan Perisic. What? He played? Nah he must be an exceptional look-alike. Can you please find the real Perisic and let him know that we truly need him on our left-wing? Where the hell has he gone? I suggest you start looking in England first…
Zaniolo – another Inter heartbreak?
Nicolo Zaniolo was the most prestigious piece in Inter’s youth squad last year. He was given away to Roma as part of the deal which saw the much desired Radja Nainggolan join the Nerazzurri. No one blinked an eye during summer apart from Roma fans who could not understand such a move by the Giallorossi in strengthening a direct competitor.
Last Sunday, Zaniolo showed everyone that such reasoning in Summer was not at all accurate. He fought in every side of the pitch, he recovered crucial balls and even went close in scoring. And the Inter game was only his fourth or fifth appearance in professional football.
Experts throughout all Italy lauded praise after praise on the youngster, including national coach Roberto Mancini who even called him up to the Italy squad before he made his Roma debut. Yes, this story has all the right ingredients to make another Pirlo style heartbreak for the Nerazzurri.
But for now, I still believe Inter made the right deal so far. Inter are exceptional in spotting and signing promising Italian youngsters, so I find it hard to accept that they weren’t aware what they were giving to Roma. This means that Inter were willing to sacrifice the future in order to have a stronger present. And the current league standings backs up this notion with Inter enjoying a 9-point advantage over Roma.
Furthermore, a hot prospect cannot be judged on just a couple of matches. Remember the first season of Donnarumma which forced Milan to give him a €6 Million annual contract, after which his performances really descended? I’m not saying Zaniolo will not be the next Italian superstar as he has the potential to do so, but for now the pressure is still on him and on Roma to prove that Inter made a mistake in the Nainggolan operation. And if it turns out to be a mistake, I hope Inter would have already qualified for the next Champions League thanks to Nainggolan’s contribution.
James J Piscopo is a journalist based in Malta. At 27 years old, he has been following Inter for more than two decades. He writes a weekly editorial exclusively for SempreInter.com