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Roma v Inter Match Preview, Scouting, and Prediction

A substantial stake of the Champions League qualification will be at stake in this one, as the depleted Roma will take on, which seem to have it ongoing after underperforming for large parts of the season.

  Serie A Week 34 – Saturday 6 May 2023 – Stadio Olimpico | Preview by Enrico Passarella



Roma are beyond the point of no return in terms of injuries, which severely impacted their play. The positive is that they aren’t excessively crying about it, but rather they used the adversities to become even more compact, which was already a strong suit considering José Mourinho is a master in rallying the troops. Since the Champions League race is very tight, the two recent draws against Milan and Monza were costly but were okay performances given all the problems.

Inter, which have the most weapons out of anybody vying for a top-four finish, and Atalanta, which can focus exclusively on Serie A, roaring back was terrible news for them. Milan have yet to rev up, but it might be coming. Since there’s no end in sight to their infirmary-related crisis, they are in the worst shape out of any contender and face the risk of dropping out altogether, even should another point deduction against Juventus open another spot. Since they put a lot of effort into it, it’d be a pity if it hurt them in Europa League as well.

The scenario is grim, and a loss here might be the nail in the coffin, but they have been able to put together surprising performances despite a host of problems, especially at home. They should have arguably come away with the full spoils versus Milan, as they had no business being as competitive there. The blueprint is clear for that and doesn’t change much from the standard one. They have to sit back, cram the spaces, exploit their physicality, keep the score very low, exploit set pieces to the fullest, and uncork counter-attacks. The extra dose of energy and intimidation coming from the crowd fills in the blanks. But they will face a team that is humming, so that might not be enough.

They have issues all over the pitch and have compensated for some better than others. Chris Smalling being out hasn’t been the massive tragedy it appeared on paper. Marash Kumbulla got hurt almost right away, which forced them to adapt other players to the back. Zeki Celik lasted about 20 minutes as a braccetto versus Monza, while Bryan Cristante worked brilliantly as the anchor. They lose something in the midfield, but he has the muscularity and smarts to take care of that role and did it plenty under Paulo Fonseca. They’ll be in a better spot in this one since Nemanja Matic is available after a suspension. Edoardo Bove is still raw but gaining more confidence, and he’s very energetic.

Instead, Paulo Dybala’s inventiveness and leadership have been much harder to substitute. Ola Solbakken is very different and looks more like a second fiddle than a star in the making. He’s agile but hasn’t shown much besides that. In addition, they lost Stephan El Shaarawy too, who’s an extremely useful plug-and-play piece either as a no.10 or as a wingback. Andrea Belotti is doubtful with a rib injury, and that removes the possibility of going with a physical frontline as they did versus Milan.

Dybala and Georginio Wijnaldum were on the bench but unusable against Monza. Some mind games are surely going on, but the former might have some chances of featuring, although probably not from the start. It’ll probably come out at some point that either his thigh or ankle injury was much worse than they let out. Belotti and Wijnaldum are more long shots, and they have to factor in the upcoming clash with Bayer Leverkusen as well. Any warm body would aid, but they also can’t risk relapses.

Given the circumstances, Lorenzo Pellegrini, Tammy Abraham, and the two wingbacks will have to shoulder the weight of the attack. They are all in good runs of form, as the first two have awakened after lengthy slumps, but it might not be enough versus a stacked club finally playing close to its full potential.

Expected XI (3-4-2-1):  Patricio; Mancini, Cristante, Ibanez; Zalewski, Bove, Matic, Spinazzola; Solbakken, Pellegrini; Abraham. 

Doubts: Bove/Camara, Solbakken/Dybala. 

Injury Report: Celik (suspension); Smalling Llorente, El Shaarawy (thigh strains), Kumbulla (ACL tear), Karsdorp (meniscus tear) – Out; Wijnaldum (thigh strain), Belotti (ribs cartilage fracture) – Doubtful; Dybala (ankle sprain) – Questionable. 



It took Inter falling out of the top four, even if only virtually given Juventus’ limbo, to finally get off their schneid and perform domestically with the same fire and quality they have been doing in the cups all season long. With Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku back in top form, they arguably have the second-best squad in Serie A, perhaps the top one, as Napoli aren’t super deep.

That’s not really a secret and is the reason why their previous lackluster performances and all those losses were puzzling. They have a few centerpieces that are seesawing by nature, starting with Lautaro Martinez, and they had to navigate a few key absences, although Milan Skriniar hasn’t been missed as much as one would think, but the tally is astronomical for a team of his caliber. There are solid chances it ultimately won’t matter, as Napoli would have won the title anyway, making a top-four finish the only achievable objective. It would be a stunner and an outright catastrophe if they didn’t manage now that they have gained pace.

Still, their peaks and valleys could have an impact on the future of Simone Inzaghi. It’s unlikely that he’ll enter the next campaign as a lame duck, meaning in the final year of his contract. It rarely happens for top teams and is not Giuseppe Marotta’s MO. His success in Champions League and Coppa Italia, and the lack of readymade replacements that could have provided a spark, kept him on the bench while he was seriously wobbling. His wages are sizeable for a team that has to penny-pinch, and they’ll have to weigh their options.

Like Massimiliano Allegri, he’s a sound peace-time general that stirs the team in the right direction when things are going well. Instead, his tactics and strategies aren’t additive when he should bring something more to the table. The inaccuracy of their strikers was the main culprit, but they dropped too many points in easier fixtures due to an apparent lack of motivation. That fall on the players and the staff. Part of the problem is that he didn’t trust his backups enough, fielding the same XI for months, with the energy level of the starters inevitably taking a hit. It’s no coincidence that they turned the corner once they started rotating like a normal team.

Moving on from a manager who could lead them to the Champions League final would be tough. They were a little lucky with the draws and other happenstances in the knockout stages, but coming out of the group was an impressive achievement. There’s a non-zero chance he feels slighted for all the negative rumors and press he got this year, and the executives had their fingerprints all over that, but he would have to find a prestigious suitor abroad to jump ship without waiting for the outcome of the negotiation on his new deal. It remains to be seen whether he has built up enough of a reputation for that to happen, though.

They have rotated their squad a lot in recent games, so fatigue shouldn’t be a big factor in their lineup choices, even though the first leg of the Euro-Derby is just around the corner. If anything, it will provide extra motivation to the players, which will be eager to prove that they should start midweek. The coaching staff will have legitimate doubts on his hands as Hakan Calhanoglu, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, and Brozovic have been faring somewhat similarly in the midfield, and Edin Dzeko replied to Lukaku’s recent scoring binge in the Hellas Verona match.

Expected XI (3-4-2-1):  Onana; Darmian, Acerbi, Bastoni; Dumfries, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitaryan, Dimarco; Lukaku, Martinez. 

Doubts: Acerbi/De Vrij, Mkhitaryan/Brozovic, Martinez/Correa. 

Injury Report: Gosens (shoulder sprain) – Out. 


Inter Win – Under 2.5 Goals

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