Well, I guess we look kinda stupid now, don’t we? After laughing quite some years with the fails of both Milan teams, the joke is suddenly on AS Roma. After years of trolling with the Milan sides, the Giallorossi are now considered the laughing stock in Serie A if you look at the current standings. That and the fact that the resurgence of both sides could seriously threaten Roma’s CL hopes and dreams.
Between 2013 and 2017 there were not that many highlights to enjoy for fans in Milan. And damn that’s a long period. A quick overview: AC Milan barely reached the EL group fase a couple of times while Inter could not even qualify for Europe at one point. Fifth, sixth, tenth,... The fans in Milan, both black and red, were running wild in a maze of disappointments, frustrations and a lot of anger management lessons.
I think 2014-2015 was the all time low, with Inter ending eight and Milan ending tenth, while the Roman teams were doing just fine, ending second and third. The Milan misery continued until last season, in which Inter qualified for the CL at the final minute and returned to the biggest stages of club football since ages (six years actually).
But look at that, after a poor start in Serie A and one win in its first four (albeit easy) games (the laughs in Rome were quite loud, I could even hear them from Belgium) Spalletti’s side are now joint second with Napoli and considered the main challenger for Juve, just like Roma was some time ago and Napoli last season. In the CL they are exceeding expectations and in second place in a group of death.
Sun is shining in Inter and on Spal’s bald head (it reflects so much I could even see it from Belgium). It looks like the players are loving life under Luciano. Icardi, Perisic, Politano, Joao Mario, Gagliardini, Brozovic, Vecino and last but not least Radja have all embraced the new system and tactics. After a Summer of some serious quality injections, Inter are back and probably better than ever. Or let’s say, almost on the same level as in 2010 and Jose Mourinho. That’s scary.
And what to say about the red side of Milan? Just like Inter, they didn’t start so brightly in Serie A, placed 14th by the sixth matchday. But then I guess Gattusso shouted so loudly in the locker room (I can know, I could hear it from Belgium), AC instantly won five of its last six games, losing only narrowly 1-0 against… Inter.
Higuain, Suso, Kessie, Donnarumma, Cutrone, Romagnoli, Musacchio, Rodriguez, … They look like a well-oiled machine again and could battle till the end for a top four spot. It’s true there are still some doubs about the trainer at the moment, but they could easily disappear as soon as Gattusso wins/convinces in the next match against Juve.
Talking about the Bianconeri...
We alread had Inter and Milan. Now throw in a dominant Juve led by a guy called Ronaldo and a Napoli side which is still producing some of the finest footy in Italy and you know Roma has a problem. A serious problem.
If my calculations are correct (and they are because hey, I’m from Belgium) there are only four CL spots. And although we like to forget our disabled cousins from time to time, Lazio are still up there as well. It’s getting crowded at the top and right now our dear Roma’s not part of it. The Giallorossi are stuck in ninth place with 16 points, -5 from a CL spot, and are not invited for the party just yet.
Eusebio and co still have time to turn things around, but don’t forget we’re already November. We said the same thing in September and October and well, here we are. Roma can’t seem to put together a string of convincing results, even if their life depended on it. Their last win in Serie A was one month ago.
Trips to Napoli and Fiorentina are no walks in the park, but in the same window both Inter and AC won their fixtures so the gap is widening each week. It seems there aren’t a lot of ‘easy’ games this season for Roma, and in three of those the Giallorossi already faltered (SPAL, Chievo, Bologna). The tempo set by Juve, Inter and Napoli this season is overwhelming and Roma can’t keep up.
Luckily for EDF the results in the CL are more than satisfing so that buys him and the management some more time, but not much. Roma can’t risk a season without CL for the same old reasons (money, transfers, growth). So while Roma’s doing mighty fine in this year’s edition, maybe in one year time they’re playing Videoton, Astana or PAOK instead. The horror.
Perhaps we were a bit too quick to judge Spal’s Inter at the beginning of the season. Perhaps we got a ‘fake’ image of how powerful Roma is in Italy because both Milan teams were underperforming all this time. Now that they’re both back, it’s Roma’s turn to overcome this little crisis.
Let’s just hope it won’t last as long as the one from AC and Inter.