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Roma v Inter Milan Match Preview

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Roma will see a few old friends tomorrow evening. Fresh off a managerial change, Pablo Osvaldo and Dodo will attempt to upset their former friends when Inter invades the Olimpico.

Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

If it feels like an eternity since that ball bounced passed a helpless and stunned Morgan De Sanctis on Tuesday, that's because it's probably still limply rolling over the end line. Have you ever seen a more pitiful equalizer? That thing moved about as fast...as...as, I don't know what; neither simile, nor metaphor, nor analogy can aptly describe the misery of that moment. I just thank god I didn't watch that in real time because my reaction probably would've cost me my job.

But that's really the heart of the matter on Sunday, can Roma do their job; can they put that catastrophe behind them and focus on the task at hand, defeating Roberto Mancini and the rest of the  Nerazzurri?

Roma v.InterNovember 30 20:45 CET, 14:45 EST Stadio Olimpico Roma, Italia

With Roma's mental state and nighttime liaisons suddenly in question, not to mention the customary injury concerns, the players simply ability to buckle down and focus becomes a pressing matter.

So, given all the off-field tumult they've endured this week, what can we expect when Roma returns to league action on Sunday against a newly reformed Inter side?

Meet The New Boss...

Same as the old boss.  Despite a lack of European glory, Mancini's first turn as Inter head man was an undisputed success, highlighted by three successive Serie A titles, though they were denied the double twice by Roma in the Coppa Italia finals.

Mancini's big match experience was immediately put to the test upon his return, as in successive matches he faced city rivals, Milan and a Europa league fixture against Dinipro. While Inter managed a draw and a victory, respectively, one would imagine Inter fans are over the moon about this reunion despite the lack of fireworks through the first 180 minutes of Mancini version two.

Given that Inter changed managers less than two weeks ago, we can't really draw any conclusions about how the remnants of Italian Alec Baldwin's regime will fair under Mancini. However, through 11 weeks under Mazzarri, Inter was pretty mediocre, sitting in the middle of the pack in most statistical categories and barely treading water in goal differential.

They certainly weren't the Inter Milan we all grew to loathe earlier this century, so what, if anything, will change under Mancini?

Well, we can probably kiss Mazzarri's vaunted 3-5-2 goodbye, at least in the short term. Although Mancini occasionally flirts with a 3-4-1-2, he is most assuredly a fan of the four man backline, at least during his most recent club stint with Galatasaray. What this means in the present tense is an awkward transition phase, after all, this club was built with Mazzarri's tactics in mind, a point Garcia touched upon in his pre match press conference:

He has won many titles and not only at Inter, even if I never like to see a Coach fired the way Mazzarri was. When a club makes a decision, I guess it seems like the right one, but at times things don't work out.

We can only judge Inter on their last two games. We know they have strong players, that they now have four at the back and studied them carefully, but the important thing is for us to play like Roma so that we prevent Inter making the most of their strengths.

It's normal that a team will change attitude and be more concentrated when a new Coach arrives. Inter are still the same side, but they'll have more of a fighting spirit. What I've seen so far is a quality team with a few weak points

Last week alone, Mancini rolled out a standard 4-3-3 against city rival Milan, while shifting things slightly, opting for the 4-1-2-1-2 against Dinipro. Both formations featured a healthy heaping of Mauro Icardi, Inter's leading scorer and a breakout star in the making. Beyond Icardi blossoming before the league's very eyes, the Nerazzurri are receiving solid performances from Freddy Guarin (two goals, two assists), Hernanes (two goals, one assist, two key passes per match), and another twenty-something, midfielder Mateo Kovacic, who has not only scored two goals but paces the club with 3.7 dribbles per match.

I suppose we can feel fortunate that we're catching Inter so early in this transition phase, but there is still a lot of talent on that roster, even if it's not ideal for Mancini's brand of football.

PTRD

Post Traumatic Roma Disorder, that's what we've all been experiencing the past 96 hours. Symptoms include fever, achy feet and a constant feeling that it's 2010 again. There is no known cure at the moment, but bed rest is advisable.

Setting aside our own maladies for a moment, there may at long last be some positive news on Roma's injury front, the long awaited return of Maicon. After more than a month on the sideline, and with several will he or won't he moments, it seems that Dougie is finally ready to return to action, and not a moment too soon. And hey, wouldn't you know it; the thunderdome at Trigoria has claimed yet another victim.

With late breaking word that Vasilis Torosidis will miss this match with a calf strain, the state of Big Doug's body is immaterial; Roma needs him on the pitch, 100% or not. Beyond that, Roma's regular cast of characters (regular for this season, that is) are all primed and ready to run the Nerazzurri off the field.

Saturday brought with it further good news on the injury front, the return of Mapou Yinga-Mbiwa. MB has been out for nearly a month himself and, depending on who you ask, he's either been a revelation or sheep in wolfs clothing (get it, because we're the wolves and we're not sure he's good yet...get it?). Nevertheless, the return of MB gives Garcia another warm body to rotate on the backline, which is certainly a welcome turn of events.

Takin Care of Business

That's really all that matters tomorrow, Roma needs a win; a win to get things working again, a win to keep the heat on Juventus, and a win to boost morale. While this isn't the Inter of old, the one that tormented Roma during the early oughts, they're always a side that must be reckoned with. Furthermore, Inter should receive the requisite spiritual boost that often comes with a managerial change, not to mention players who were overlooked by Mazzarri will now have ample motivation to seal their place in Mancini's rotation, and what better way to make a name for yourself with the new boss than by upsetting Roma on the road?

The names and faces may have changed, but this is still Inter we're talking about, and we hate them, so let's hope Garcia can get the job done swiftly and without mercy.