The first half of the Inter v. Roma doubleheader went well-enough, as Paulo Fonseca's short staffed squad held off a hungry Lautaro Martinez and the rest of first place Inter at the San Siro on Friday evening. As entertaining as that match was the real intrigue in this twin bill always rested with the women's end of the weekend, as Roma will get their first look at newly promoted Inter Milan, who are sitting a respectable seventh on the table.
Led by Regina Baresi—daughter of Giuseppe and niece of Franco—Inter Milan almost...almost...ran off a completely perfect Serie B campaign in 2018-2019, running out to a 21-1-0 record. While they were technically undefeated, that lone draw, 2-2 against Lazio last April, was all that stood between the Nerazzurre and an utterly flawless record, though I'm sure they took some solace in their...you ready for this?...+75 GOAL DIFFERENTIAL!
Not a lot of parity in Serie B evidently.
Inter Milan vs. Roma: December 8th. 12:30 CET/6:30 EST. Stadio Chinetti, Solbiate Arno
While Baresi and friends haven't quite equaled that excellence this term, they have to be proud of their first few months in the top flight. Through seven rounds, Inter are hanging tough, sporting a 3-2-3 record, while Gloria Marinelli and Stefania Tarenzi have banked a respectable six goals between them, accounting for 67% of Inter's offensive output. The numbers won't overwhelm you, but with 11 points through eight matches, Inter aren't that far off the upper end of the table, sitting only four points behind Roma, so the Giallorosse should be wary of this squad.
From a Roma perspective, this match marks the first time Agnese Bonfantini will face her former squad. Prior to signing on in the capital last summer, Bonfantini cut her teeth with Inter Milan, making Sunday's match a special occasion for the dynamic 20-year-old winger.
A point she expanded on earlier this week:
Going back to Inter will be a special game for me – I grew up there, so it really will be a special match.
I decided to stay at Roma because I really like the project; we are a young squad and Roma really wants to try and help players develop. We also are lucky to have a lot of experienced senior players who really help the younger ones to improve and progress.
Bonfantini also gave some insight about her former club:
I don’t think there is one Inter player we have to worry about more than another, they are all good, young players that really have a lot of potential for the future. Alice Regazzoli is out though, perhaps she is one of their best players.
Let there be no doubt: Roma shouldn't underestimate Inter, but the Giallorosse are definitely the more talented squad. However, as we saw last week against Tavagnacco, talent alone won't win the day, as Roma were frustrated by Tavagnacco's defensive strategies, which limited their ability to create from the flanks. Bavagnoli's crew capitalized when it mattered most however, with Andressa converting from the spot and Elisa Bartoli scoring a cracker in the 14th minute.
Despite the more notable names on Inter's roster, Roma's task on Sunday is much the same as it was last week—take the initiative and don't relent until the final whistle.
Cliché? Sure, but that's always the task when facing lesser sides whose ambition is to simply frustrate their way to a draw or victory. How quick and how killer Roma are will largely depend on what XI Bavagnoli selects. She's shuffled around a few parts this season, but Roma have the speed to run Inter off the pitch. If Greggi, Serturini and Bonfantini see significant time at the same time, then Roma should recapture their attacking spirit. When Roma were at their best last season, those three U23s were fully integrated—we need to get back to that.
The Roma men scored a moral victory yesterday in their fixture against Inter, the women have no such luxury. They should win this one and they must win this one.