Written By Onyeka Daniel
At the Stadio Olimpico in Rome, it will be an epic battle between the club from the Capital, AS Roma and Milanese giants, Inter Milan with Italian referee, Marco Guida put in charge of proceedings from the centre in a match that could seriously impact the Scudetto race and also the top four race.
Following their 1-0 defeat in October’s reverse fixture, Roma have lost five of their last six Serie A meetings with Inter – including both of the last two from last season while failing to score.
But since the sacking of Jose Mourinho, the Giallorossi have found a new lease of life under their interim manager, Daniele De Rossi, with the club legend winning his first three competitive games to put them within a touching distance of their objective for the season, a top four placing.
After Derby d’Italia victory left them four points clear at the top of Serie A, Inter Milan aim to drive home their advantage when they meet a resurgent Roma. The hosts will be hoping to keep ascending the standings under new management and Inter seeking a fifth league win on the bounce to keep their Scudetto dream alive.
For De Rossi, while acknowledge Inter’s superiority in his pre-match interview, he was also quick to point out that they’re beatable. Speaking in a press conference, De Rossi first discussed Roma’s mindset heading into their clash with Inter.
“The courage that strong players must have, and we’re full of strong players. Intelligence and knowledge are needed, every team in the world are beatable. Inter are too. Now the level has risen compared to my first three matches.
“The preparation changes for the match, we face a team used to dominating the game. But there will be moments in which they can suffer. We are aware that we can play a great match, as well as their strengths.” He explained why he wasn’t present at the funeral of Roma legend Giacomo Losi.
“I didn’t ask for the date, the place. The match distracted me, and I made a serious mistake. It’s not a bad faith mistake, it bothers me not to have gone to say goodbye to him. It’s not a question of role and protocol, it’s a question of relationship between me and him.
“His son is very similar to his father, he knows very well the relationship that existed between us. I am very sorry not to have said goodbye to him, the distraction is serious because there was a serious relationship.
“I had nothing to do, I opened a post on social media and saw the photos and I couldn’t believe it. I was careless, I asked, I hope and believe it should end there.” He further added. He also urged former Inter striker, Lukaku to control his emotions against his former side.
Style Of Play
Since taking over, De Rossi has returned to the traditional 4-3-3 formation, switching from Mourinho’s 3-5-2 formation. With three central midfielders, they are able to remain in shape even when their wing-backs bomb forward and the free role occupied by Dybala gives them some air of unpredictability.
For Simone Inzaghi who will be a touch line ban, the 3-5-2 formation still remains and he’s expected to name an unchanged lineup from the Derby d’Italia win last week except he decides to play Denzel Dumfries ahead of Matteo Darmian on the right-wing.
The team is adept at playing against any type of opponent, those that like to sit back and those that like to press higher up the pitch, so should have no problem against any tactics employed by the home side.
For Roma, in their last 20 games played across all competitions, they have 10 wins, 4 draws and 6 losses. They are currently on a four game winning run, including a friendly game against Al Shaba, plus three in the Serie A and will be hoping to keep that run, at least, make it an unbeaten streak.
For Inter, they’ve won 15, drew 4 and lost just once in their last 20 games. They’re also on a 6 game winning streak for the year 2024 and will hope to make it 7 from this encounter.
Head To Head
In their last 20 games played against each other, Inter have the edge over their host with 9 wins as against just 4 wins for the Giallorossi while 7 has ended in a draw. In fact, in their last 7 encounters, Inter have 6 wins and just one win for Roma.
Players To Watch
The home side will be looking to the partnership of Romelu Lukaku and Paulo Dybala upfront to unlock Inter’s tight defense with help from Leandro Paredes in the midfield. For Inter, they will be banking on their captain Lautaro Martinez and his strike partner Marcus Thuram with help from Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella in the midfield.
Roma Possible Starting Lineup: Patricio; Karsdorp, Mancini, Llorente, Angelino; Pellegrini, Paredes, Cristante; El Shaarawy, Dybala; Lukaku
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Inter Milan Possible Starting Lineup: Sommer; Pavard, Acerbi, Bastoni; Darmian, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Thuram, Martinez.
Injuries And Suspensions
Roma will have an almost full squad available except long term injury absentee, Tammy Abraham and Evan Ndicka playing at the AFCON. The duo of Chris Smalling and Leonardo Spinazzola remain doubtful but should be fit enough to be on the bench.
For Inter, they also have a long term injury absentee, Juan Cuadrado and alongside him, the likes of Davide Frattesi and Stefano Sensi will also miss this encounter leaving Inter a little bit short in the midfield. Their manager will also be missing from the bench as he will be serving a suspension after getting his fifth yellow card of the season against Juventus.
It should be an exciting game for the neutrals with both sides in need of points for their season objectives, (2-1) in favor of Inter.
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