Just as it should, this game gets top billing this weekend. Say what you will about Roma, for some reason they always bring it when they travel to Milan to play Inter. It doesn't really seem to matter their form or where they sit in the table, when they come to the San Siro, they always pull out all the stops. Both teams won their last Siere A games and various UEFA trophy competition type games so both will be raring to go.
What: Inter v Roma, Matchday 12
Where: San Siro, Milan
When: Sunday, November 8th, 8:45 local time (11:45 pacific, 2:45 eastern)
How to Watch: Live on FSC (hooray) or find a stream (MyP2P, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net).
For the last couple of years, this tie has ended in draws. Last year's 3-all was epic. Twice, Inter went down 2 goals, and, in the end, we managed to claw our way back. I tell you, a draw never felt so much like a win. Well, that is except the for the same tie two years ago. That game saw our fearless captain snatch a point with a rare but wonderful goal that helped seal our scudetto.
Last year's game:
And the year before:
As you can see, it is always a heart-stopping nail-biter. In fact, we haven't really put one over on Roma at the San Siro in the Serie A since a 2-0 win in 2005 (both goals were from Mihajlovic). Overall, though, Inter have a pretty decent home record against Roma: of the 78 Serie A games, Inter have won 42, drawn 24, and only lost 12. Not bad.
Another bit of interest is all the business the two clubs have done over the years. Moratti and Sensi were friends, and players have moved between Inter and Roma without much fuss. Right now, our good friend Nico Burdisso is on loan to the Giallorossi (and they seem to like him just fine), while Pizarro also was a Nerrazzuri not all that long ago. Andreolli is an Inter youth product, and until last year, was co-owned by the clubs*. In our ranks, Chivu and Mancini came directly from i Lupi, while Samuel took a brief detour to Real Madrid before finding his way from Rome to Milan. In other words, we are almost family. Almost.
*Rumor is that Andreolli will come back to Inter this winter in exchange for Burdisso. Go figure.
Our four-legged friends have not gotten off to the best of starts this season - between money woes and the never ending injuries, they haven't had a whole lot to work with. Still, they have won their last two games and may just be starting to figure out what Ranieri wants from them. Unfortunately, they have dug themselves into a bit of a hole and have a lot of work to do if they want to see the sun again.
Roma sit at 14 points (exactly half Inter's points), and have lost more games than they have won. They dont seem to have any trouble scoring goals - Roma's 18 goals puts them in the top four offensively - but have real difficulty stopping the other team from scoring. With 19 goals conceded, they have the second worst defensive record in the league (Genoa is the worst with 20). Clearly, they have strengths to respect and weaknesses to exploit.
Right now, probably their greatest weakness is their medical staff. For some reason, Roma always seem to have half their starters out with some injury of another. Today is no different: Totti, Doni, Juan, and Burdisso are all out. Taddei will also be sitting one this out due to suspension. It could be (and has been) worse, though. At least today when I look at their projected line-up I know who everyone is. They have not had to dip into their youth team for this match.
Happy is good, focused is better.
We are finally starting to clear out our injury ward - and none too soon, either. Everyone is fit (although Eto'o is not quite 100%) and we have no suspensions. There has been some talk of a bit of a rotation squad, and for the first time in a couple years that doesn't immediately make my stomach start to churn. It sure is nice to have options! Cambiasso may start from the bench as he is still nursing his knee. He has finally won his first call-up to the Argentine National team and everyone wants him to do well and earn a returning role. Every player worth his boots is dreaming of the World Cup - I am sure Cuchu is no different.
Mourinho has called-up 19 players:
Portieri: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni;
Difensori: Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Samuel, Chivu;
Centrocampisti: Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Vieira, Cambiasso, Mancini;
Attaccanti: Eto'o, Milito, Balotelli.
Mourinho was all humble and wary during his press conference today. He didn't drop any hints about line-ups or formations or anything.
I repeat what I said before the last two games: if I have no idea how to play my opponent, it doesn't make life easy. It is not easy to prepare a game where no one knows how to play the adversary: Claudio Ranieri is a coach who usually uses a 4-4-2, but in these days has spoken of the possibility to deploy the diamond in midfield and I also thought that he uses the 4-4-1-1. I'm thinking and working hard in this sense, then I will not say which team I will play with now. There are no injured players at this time, I believe that it is not news to those who are part of our environment, Rui Faria is a phenomenon, however, we are all working well to build the best team possible to meet Roma, a team that right now does not find the justice of its quality in its current position in the standings.
The 14-point difference between Inter and Roma are not a true testament of the situation of these two teams: we have done very well since the beginning of the season, they have had some problems and lost some points unnecessarily, but what counts in a team is the quality and level of quality, I always said that I like Roma and there are some Roma players I like very much. For these reasons, I see the game tomorrow night as a big game, a game between two teams fighting for the Scudetto. They are quite far behind, it's true, but the reality of the situation is that they too are a team that can fight for the Scudetto.
Mourinho is also worried about the team's mentality after the euphoria of the win in Kiev.
Character is very important and this team has already shown theirs many times, but it is also character to win and stay calm after an important win. History is full of bad games after a great battle and that of Inter against Dynamo was truly a great match on every level: psychologically, physically, tactically and the level of risk. ... Right now, for for me it is ... important that players understand that we have not done anything, or at least, that we have done something that has an ephemeral significance. We need to stay calm, the race tomorrow will be served to the team who understands that there is a need to begin every future match with the same mentality and the same concentration. This is the mentality of the big teams, teams that never tire of doing good to win, who do not need to recover psychologically and physically after a great game. A great team is always prepared to play a great match after great match, this is the mentality that I want.
Tomorrow I dont want to have a disappointment and a team that takes the field playing with the victory of Kiev in its pocket. I do not want to have in our pocket the victory won in the Champions League, that is the past. The only difference is that we are in a better position and, now, instead of the press writing that Inter has not won in 7 games they will write that inter has not lost in 4, but there is nothing more.
Then, when asked if Mourinho was confident of winning tomorrow, he said no and that "it depends on us."
And really, what more can be said? More than anything, tomorrow "Dipende da noi".
We have a great squad who are determined and used to playing under this sort of pressure. We have the tranquility of knowing that no matter how terribly Juventus beats Atalanta, we will still be top of the table. Couple that with the drive for success and I think we have a pretty good shot of coming out of this with three points. That is, if we can concentrate on the task at hand. In many ways, a win is far more important for Roma than it is for Inter and that is a dangerous situation. I dont think that Roma has it in them to beat us, but I think we can most certainly beat ourselves. Inter must be focused and hungry - anything less just will not do.