Roma v Inter Draw

Paolo Bruno

No one wants to be 'friend-zoned' this time of year.

0-0. Its not quite like being kicked in the balls. No, its blue balls. Which in a way is worse.

You know what I mean, don’t you. Like taking a girl out, the one you‘ve been putting in all that ground work for. Texting back and forth pleasantries, cutting down on offensive languages or any references to the Italian peninsular lest it result in a torrent of Roma gushing.

This girl requires you to make sure your hair is nice, iron your clothes. So while you are out you are quitely confident you are saying all the right things, laughing when you are supposed to, picking up the bill for dinner, suggesting and then obtaining inoffensive cocktails.

Yep, you are the perfect gentleman and she is giving you pleasant smiles. You even manage to avoid being sucked out onto the dance floor for that stupid Miley Cyrus song for game breaking grinding.

As the evening draws to a close it is coming towards that moment. H hour, go time, clutch shot. Call it what you will, it’s the awkward moment where you have to convert your chances.

And as you both stand there on the step, lets say it is beginning to snow, you reach for her hand and lean in towards her with as much non-homicidal aura as you can muster.

Alas, she expertly parries away your palm, sidestepping your forward momentum to plant the friendliest of friend zone pecks on your cheek, and skips inside her door, closing it leaving only enough time for you to faintly catch her mumbled farewell.

That my friends is 0-0, nil all, blue balls.

Where your fans at?

I am a card carrying partner of the anti-Inter Milan group. I was living in Rome in 2008 and to this day cannot shake my severe loathing induced by Moratti and Mourinho as they bested the valiant Romans by the most darn goshed margins. My housemate at the time (who like most born and raised Italians was a part time philosopher and poet) summarised the side and all it stood for in three heavily accented English words.

Inter-Fucking-Bastard.

This game, despite the current Serie A standings, is important. And even though Luca Toni and Lucio weren’t on the pitch the fact that two thirds of the Stadio Olimpico was empty is nothing short of scandalous. The clowns at FIGC had no right to deny one of the marquee match ups of the season of a packed bubbling cauldron of noise and passion, all for the sake of ironic territorial banter that is expressed in sporting match ups the world over. (2 World Wars and 1 World Cup, anyone?)

Perhaps FIGC were attempting to boost the Saturday night ratings of Sky Sport in the Italian Capital, only to provide a spike in computer viruses collected from dodgy online streaming websites.

The players trotted out calmly, as the cameramen tried to capture an image that didn’t have a backdrop of thousands upon thousands of vacant blue seats. Rudi chose a rather subdued starting eleven, opting for Romagnoli at left back, Nainggolan in midfield for Pjanic and Ljajic starting on the left wing next to Destro in the middle.

It was at this point I’m sure most of you identified Radja Nainggolan’s haircut or scalp molestation. Obviously he had passed out asleep on the couch during the week and his infant daughter got a hold of the clippers and started carving zebra stripes into daddy’s head. Or maybe our second favourite Belgian (team JonAS!) lost a bet or got in too deep in a game of truth or dare. We’ll never fully know.

Early on Ljajic blasted a dipping free kick into the palms of Handanovic as Roma pressed forward early. In the 10th minute Nainggolan released Nutella face with a class cross-field ball, leaving the young Serb one on one with the suspiciously double first named Jonathan. Ljajic dinked the ball left and then expertly dropped his shoulder breaking the ankles of the Brazilian defender as he fell arse first to the ground. Nutella probably could have bared down on goal from here rather than sullying a terrific individual moment with a blasted cross behind Gervinho and Destro who were well marked by Inter’s remaining defence. But hey, he’s young, it’s cool.

As the half ticked along, Mazzarri the counter-attacking maestro’s midfield seemed to be keeping Roma’s attacking threats at bay and holding up the ball for a while before pumping it over the top to Icardi. Gervinho had a terrific chance to slide his volley into the net from a perfectly weighted DDR chip, only to see it pocketed by the Inter keeper.

Palacio was left unattended between about 4 Roman defenders in the six-yard box at the other end of the field where he sent the ball expertly over the top of the bar with his free header with the grace and poise appropriate to his rat’s tail.

Come the 32nd minute, Destro had us all jumping out of our seats and giving the finger to the cat (fucking cat always goes for the other team!) as he snuck over to the far post and spun a tap-in expertly into the post where the ball rebounded straight into the backside of Handanovic and into the corner of the net. As the bearded youngster wheeled away with a hand on his shirt ready to sneak a peak of chiselled abs to the soon to be thrusted corner flag, the assistant referee raised his flag. It was a good call, Destro was a bee’s dick offside when the ball was flicked on into his path.

This prompted a surge in the action as both sides sent concerted attacking efforts forward, Castan producing a class block on Jonathan to keep the scores at 0-0 at the end of a rather even half.

Secondo Tempo saw Roma play with a bit more fire in the belly. Rudi sent on Pjanic at Adem’s expense ten minutes in. While the Roman attack was crying out for a mastermind to sit behind it, Ljajic was a little unlucky to be dragged as he didn’t seem too far off producing a scything move that would lead to a Destro chance.

Pjanic’s inclusion had the predictable impact of increased possession and fluidity in the Roman attack. Gervinho though didn’t agree with that being the best way to win a game. Every time he collected the ball around the 18 yard area, he paused, waited for the covering Inter defence to get in front of him, ventured forward a few steps and then after realising he can’t get through five guys he would end his move with a lateral pass.

Sniffing Roma’s growing impatience, Mazzarri sent on Hernanes for the crap-bearded stunt double for that kid in the Jumanji movie. Boos ensued. It is rather fitting that Hernanes joined Inter during an era of mid-table mediocrity. Douche bag.

Torosidis bombed forward and produced a quality ball inside the area that seemed destined to be rocketed into the net only for Gervinho to nudge it into the sliding leg of Rolando, skying away harmlessly for yet another wasted Roma corner.

Mira then had Roma’s best chance of the night as Radja shrugged off the negativity sporadically decorated around his head to put him through the Inter defence. The ball held up a little awkwardly for our Bosnina maestro and his half volley was saved by Handanovic’s right arm. I knew it, you knew it. It just wasn’t going to happen tonight.

Rudi gambled on Bastos shinning the ball through Inter’s parked bus for the last ten minutes and then gave Florenzi less than five minutes to run around like superfly. Compulsory late match defensive jitters enhanced the ordinary feeling of this match as the ever so confident arbitrator, Bergonzi whistled the end of the match.

Its called the S Word for a S’ing reason!

Before I delve into the ever so Roman psychology of recriminations against the Gods that hath crossed us, honourable mentions to De Rossi and Romagnoli. Mainly for being Roman born and bred, but also for playing solid if unspectacular matches. Roma always looks that little bit braver and potent when De Rossi snakes his way forward with the ball, tonight he looked likely to serve the killer ball we needed, alas this time we’ll have to settle for a rabbit punch on Icardi.

While Alessio received plenty of help on the left, his competent defensive performances in a tough match like this are a welcome silver lining to the complete and utter lack of attacking threat he brings. If this side is to pierce through organised and competent defences, we need our fullbacks at least posing an attacking threat on the overlap. With that said, this kid looks the business for a year or two away, just not on the flank. He even copped an old fashioned elbow to the guts late on to consolidate his respect points amongst the tifosi.

Rudi is surely regretting leaving Pjanic on the pine for the opening half, with Totti’s absence once again leaving a mark on the pitch that continues to glare for all and sundry to see.

Is this draw dropped points? You bet your bottom dollar it is. Playing at home to a side aiming for Europa is not as hard as Napoli away, gulp. This match was a must to keep the spectre of title chasing alive in Serie A. This season has proven to be an utter dud for watching matches not involving Roma. The Juventus juggernaut made Inter look utterly pathetic a few weeks ago, don’t get your hopes too high for their Milan cousins.

Fact is Champions League is still in a very attainable position for Rudi’s 2014 Roma. One positive we can garner was Bergonzi’s reluctance to shove cards in the face of players from both sides tonight. The lack of suspensions are absolutely key to putting up a showing next week in the Derby Del Sole.

So is it time for us to grow up and shelve our championship hopes and dreams? Probably. Will we? Probably not.

That’s the thing about blue balls, they leave you with more regret than an evening of outright failure. But Rudi ain’t the type of Cat that settles for the 3am plain looking best friend of the prom queen. It wouldn’t be Roma if there wasn’t something desperately close to plunging us all into eternal despair.

Inter-Fucking-Bastard

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