The more things change, the more they stay the same. A famous quote from Frenchman novelist Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr (yeah, I know, that guy) and oh so typical Roma as well. After a summer sale, new director and new coach, AS Roma still hasn’t changed one damn bit.
At the first sight of a bigger club trying to poach away one of Roma’s jewels, she doesn’t hesitate to cooperate. Emerson and Dzeko won’t stay at the capital for long if we believe multiple reports. Instead of keeping the core that did so well last season and add 2-3 immediate and specific reinforcements, Monchi and co are preparing another fire sale this January: Peres, Emerson, Dzeko, Pellegrini, Nainggolan, Alisson, Strootman have all been linked to other clubs over the past few weeks.
Now that doesn’t mean all those guys will effectively leave the club, but still, it’s becoming a frightening and worrisome trend. No one is untouchable if the offer is right. It’s clear the management isn’t afraid of a dollar/euro/yen/pound or two. For now the squad is intact but will it last until February? Or even the next Serie A game? Speaking of the next Serie A game... Yeah it’s kind of a big one.
This weekend Roma travel to Milan to face Luciano Spalletti’s Inter and avenge their painful 1-3 defeat from August. Both teams started out astonishingly well this season, Inter were hailed as one of the Scudetto contenders while Roma under Di Francesco was a dangerous outsider. But then that damn December happened... That month gave both Inter and Roma nothing but misery and headaches. Not all is doom though, because my birthday is in December, yaay! But I guess that doesn’t help and no one in Rome or Milan really cares about that so let’s continue, shall we?
December Drama. It could be the new novel of Spalletti or Eusebio. We all know what Roma achieved (or in fact didn’t achieve) in the last month of the year, but Inter were perhaps even worse. December 3 was Inter’s last glory day, a 5-0 trashing of Chievo. What followed was a total collapse of Spalletti’s side. The draw in Turin was not a bad result but there were no excuses for the losses against Sassuolo and Udine. Lazio held Inter to a 0-0 at the Meazza while Fiorentina scored a last-minute equalizer 2 weeks ago to give Spalletti a major hangover.
The summary: No win in their last five games and only 2 goals scored. Icardi, Perisic and Borja suddenly were paralyzed. It all sounds so typical Spalletti and recognizable for us, Roma fans. A good start, some great footy and then a meltdown around New Year. It seems also Luciano can’t shake his past and is just like Roma: the more things change, the more it stays the same.
And so both Inter and Roma went from Scudetto contenders to battling for a top 4 spot, practically at the same moment in the season. While Milan, Sampdoria and Atalanta are still far behind them and won’t catch up the Giallorossi or Nerazzuri, Lazio has been a pesky and annoying mosquito in our faces and is threatening both teams. It looks like one of Inter, Roma and Lazio will fall out of the top 4 by May, but who?
That’s why Inter-Roma is a crucial fixture for Spal and EDF. Both teams are longing for a win after all this time and whoever losses on Sunday will be in an even bigger crisis/pile of shit. A draw would only lengthen the misery and strengthen the disease. A win is the only remedy. But is Roma up for the task?
Well, history shows their recent results at the Meazza have been actually quite decent: Four wins, one draw and two losses since 2011-2012 (including Serie A and Coppa Italia). Last year Roma conquered Inter 1-3 thanks to a Radja double, but also the 0-3 win back in 2013 stands out after a masterclass of a certain Francesco Totti. In 2015 Inter narrowly won their two home games 2-1 and 1-0. Between 2005 and 2011 Inter didn’t beat Roma in five attempts in Serie A. So you can say the Meazza has been rather kind to Roma, compared to for instance Juventus’ Stadium.
Who are the actors that will shine on the stage tomorrow evening? Dzeko is still at Roma when I’m writing this (January 20th, 14.00, CET) so he’ll start up front. Perotti is out so expect Florenzi to move up the pitch while Peres (yes, also still here) will occupy the RB position. Otherwise there will be no major gambles or switches; Radja will start after his short suspension against Atalanta. Karsdorp and Defrel are still alive and kicking, playing football for the full 90 minutes... on my copy of FIFA 18 for the PlayStation 4.
Apart from D’Ambrosio, Luciano Spalletti has a full squad at his disposal, which is not particularly good news for us. Perisic, Candreva, Vecino, Borja and last but not least Icardi, they can all do some serious damage. I say ‘can’ because, just like Roma, Inter are in a slump and desperate to crawl out of the hole. Heck, for all we know Roma tears them a new one and wins 0-3 after a glorious display. Or, you know, Inter rediscovers their early form of August-September and gives Radja and co a beating.
Anything can happen with these two wounded animals. One shall prevail and avoid the true misery, dodge the bullet that kills. After Sunday it’s going to get really ugly for either Roma or Inter. Pray it’s not us, people.
My two cents? It all depends on this: Which side will suck the least?