The loss to Inter on Saturday was a disappointing, yet not totally unexpected way for Roma’s 12-match league unbeaten streak to end. After all, Inter are the defending champions and the favorites to repeat in what has been a tight race all season. And while the 3-1 final scoreline indicates a dominant victory for the Nerazzurri, there are some numbers that stand out that show that this result was not as lopsided as the end result.
As in Roma's possession percentage. This is a huge improvement over the 34% possession in the first meeting when Roma was run off the pitch by Inter and the 43% possession in the 2-0 Coppa Italia loss in February. It also shows a bit of a change in approach compared to matches against other top sides where Roma was often content to sit back, absorb pressure, and counterattack to create opportunities to score. This more positive approach should’ve led to more chances to score, so credit to the champs for limiting what Roma did with that possession.
As in the shot on target percentage (2/9) for Roma in the match. Early in the season, when Roma was struggling to score, it was obvious: the Giallorossi couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with their shots. This felt like a regression to that underwhelming period. Inter limited Roma to only nine shots, so Mourinho’s men had to be more clinical with the chances they had to at least test Handanovic. Gianluca Mancini will be ruing that missed header, which could’ve altered the course of the match—opportunities like that must be taken against top sides.
As in Inter’s xG in the match. The Nerazzurri were clinical on the counterattack on Saturday and punished the Giallorossi when they were caught up the pitch. The opening goal from Denzel Dumfries was a counterattacking masterclass as youngster Nicola Zalewski was taken to task by his Inter counterpart. It’s small consolation when looking at the final score, but the 1.3 xG indicates that Roma limited Inter’s quality chances, and the Nerazzurri overperformed with moments of individual brilliance.
As in Roma’s passing percentage in the match. That’s Roma’s third-highest passing completion percentage in any match of the season and the 518 completed passes were the fifth-highest number. Roma excelled in this match in completing short (90.6%) and medium (93.3%) range passes but struggled (relatively) on long balls (68.0%). Also lost in the high overall completion percentage is the fact that Roma had some of its lowest numbers of key passes (five), passes into the final third (20), opponent’s penalty area (five), and progressive passes (23)— all in the bottom third for league matches this season. This shows that despite having so much of the ball, many of the passes were backward and side to side and not incisive enough to threaten a solid Inter D.