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Coppa Semifinals: Roma v Inter

Here we go again. Three days after their league encounter, Roma and Inter square off at the Olimpico in the first leg of the Coppa Italia Semifinal.

Paolo Bruno

Same teams, same stadium, different competition. With Roma's European hopes becoming more tenuous by the week, the Coppa Italia might be all Roma have to hang their hats on at the end of the day.

Since Inter Milan and Roma squared off this past Sunday, we'll keep this one brief. With the semifinals being played over two legs, it will be interesting to see how, or simply if, Zeman manages with the aggregate score in mind, particularly with the number of goals Roma concedes in the last 15 minutes of matches; eight, though they've also scored nine in this interval. So an already tense time frame is ratcheted up a few notches with the return leg looming, barring a complete blowout, of course.

Sunday's match was a strange one by many measures, Roma held 58% possession, yet each side managed 16 shots, with Roma managing three on target to Inter's two. Based on the first 30 minutes, it appeared as though Roma would run away with this one, but only managed one goal on a questionable penalty drawn by Michael Bradley, which Francesco Totti summarily banged home, as he is known to do.

Pablo Osvaldo, Erik Lamela and even Ivan Piris all threatened Inter's goal, but as has been the story all too often, Roma was left to rue their missed chances, squandering two precious points in the process, as Rodrigo Palacios 45th minute goal sealed the eventual draw. Beyond the odd scoring chance, the second half was pretty forgettable, leaving Zeman to bemoan his squad's lack of belief and aggression, particularly in the transition between midfield and attack. Sunday's league encounter was a disappointing match in many respects, most of all because Roma had a chance to gain ground in the standings, as Fiorentina, Lazio and Napoli all dropped points over the weekend.

The challenge this time around, beyond simple execution and tenacity, is contending with the squads mounting MASH unit. Word came down yesterday that Daniele De Rossi will be out approximately 15 days with a right thigh strain. Also missing from the squad list is Miralem Pjanic, meaning Michael Bradley and Alessandro Florenzi will likely log heavy minutes once again. Though with a late inclusion on Sunday, don't be shocked if Simone Perrotta gets some run in this match, ditto for Marquinho, who, despite what you might think of him, provides an instant shot in the arm whenever he takes the pitch.

There's still no word on whether or not Antonio Cassano or Diego Milito will suit up for Inter, but with the performances Fredy Guarin and young Marko Livaja put on Sunday, Inter is far from punchless. Look for Roma to take their usual tact and try to establish an early lead, but with the lack of continuity in the attack and a tough Inter defense, that's easier said than done, so would you be surprised if this match turned on a referee's decision or another 45th minute goal?

That is the Roma way, afterall.