Danielle De Rossi looks to continue his winning streak as Roma boss, but runs into by far his sternest test, as league leaders Inter travel to the Stadio Olimpico on Saturday. Inter have recorded 6 wins over Roma in their last 7 meetings in all competitions. Roma last won this fixture in October 2022.
Serie A Week 24 – Saturday 10th February – Stadio Olimpico – Preview by Jack Harding
Roma parted company with Jose Mourinho in January after a 3-1 defeat against AC Milan left them 9th in Serie A. This ended a somewhat successful but turbulent two and a half years in charge for the Portuguese coach. Since then, Roma have appointed club legend Danielle De Rossi as head coach who now has the Giallorossi backfiring, in 5th spot one point outside the top 4.
Ahead of this fixture, De Rossi stated ‘Every team is beatable, even Inter’. Its hard to say after just three games the impact De Rossi has had on the team. It is not even certain what the future will be heading into next season for both club and coach, however, De Rossi has started brightly winning 3 out of 3 league games in charge so far, despite them being against strugglers Verona, Salernitna and Cagliari; They are games Roma are expected to win.
It’s often been asked why the Freidkins appointed De Rossi, given that he’s an inexperienced coach who struggled in his time in charge of SPAL. Despite his controversial nature and his poor run of form towards the end of his tenure, Mourinho remains a popular figure at Roma, securing their first piece of European Silverware since 1961. Its thought the club had to appoint someone with a similar level of popularity amongst Roma supporters, which is why they opted for a club leend.
Since De Rossi’s appointment 27-year-old Midfielder Lorenzo Pellegrini has scored in all 3 league games, helping push the Giallorossi back up the league table and into contention for the Champions League places.
After a a shaky start to the league campaign Roma sit just one point outside of the top four. With UEFA’s reconfiguration of Champions League qualification, Italy may even receive a 5th Champions League place, which may yet hand a lifeline to the capital club.
It should be remembered that Roma expect both Dybala and Lukaku to start on Saturday, with both players having played a massive role in their league success to date.
Expected XI (4-3-3): Patricio, Karsdorp, Mancini, Llorente, Angelino, Cristante, Pellegrini, Paredes, Dybala, Lukaku, El Shaarawy
Injuries: Smalling, Abraham, N’Dicka (AFCON).
Inter have performed fantastically this season finding themselves 4 points clear at the top of Serie A by mid-February. Based on the eye test alone, it’s clear that Inter have not just the best squad in the league but also the most effective system. Beating title contenders Juventus on Sunday night felt like a giant leap towards the 2024 Scudetto.
As far as 1-0 score lines go, not many were as interesting and captivating as Sunday nights match, with the game being played at an extremely high level. Juve didn’t perform poorly, but it was simply a case of Inter’s brilliance on the night, with the game developing into a real chess match between Inzaghi and Allegri, in which the Inter boss ultimately prevailed.
The Nerazzurri squad have frequently, and quite rightly been praised this season. However, the tactical excellence of Inzaghi often slips under the radar. His implementation of such a fluid system, which allows outside centre-backs to join attacks, whilst having only conceded 10 goals in 22 matches is remarkable. Having reached the Champions League final last season and frequently securing domestic trophies has been applauded. The question is whether finally capturing a league title may allow him to get the recognition he deserves.
As a coach he knows how to manage games in the latter stages, having not conceded a single goal in Serie A this season after the 76th minute. His practice of squad rotation is also impressive, often substituting both wingbacks in around the 65th-70th minutes, typically the most physically exerting position in an Inzaghi team.
Benjamin Pavard has had a good start to life in Italy. His role as a right-sided central defender in a back three has worked perfectly so far. Previously a right back, his ball-playing ability and keenness to attack work very well in the system played by Inter this year. When attacking either Darmian or Barella slot into the position he vacated allowing the team to retain its defensive structure. This is demonstrated by his attempt at a scissor kick in the box on Sunday just before Gatti’s own goal.
Heading into this one, Inter will be hoping to put more distance between themselves and the Bianconeri before their last 16 tie with Athletico Madrid.
Expected XI: (3-5-2) Summer, Pavard, Acerbi, Bastoni, Darmian, Barella, Calhanoglu, Mkhitarayan, Dimarco, Martinez, Thuram
Injuries: Frattesi, Cuadrado
Roma 0-2 Inter