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Roma 1 – Inter 1

Inter score their first away goal in about a month and do just enough to stop a string of losses on the road that stretch about that long as well. Also, the draw it showed a lot of growth from the first time these two teams met.


It is my contention that Inter and Roma played a pretty even game last night. Most of the stats bear that out. My own point of view watching the game back that up, I think. The Inter supporters voting on the ratings on put 5 players over 6.0 and only 2 players under 5.0. While I would question the reflection of reality that this poll reveals, I do think that it’s a valid measure of how other supporters saw this game.

Saying that it was an even game is different from saying that it was a tightly played match between two candidates hoping to realistically compete with Europe’s best in the Champions League next year. There were a lot of mistakes up and down the field – on both sides, but this is the reality for Italy and her teams right now. It is definitely the reality for Inter.

And it’s the reality for Roma, too. They aren’t the same team they were 3 or 4 years ago, either I think it’s worth pointing out. It’s fitting; I think to talk about this today, now. It’s symbolic considering yet another Treble Winning Inter Player moves on from the club. This team has holes in it right now and I think that Strama is doing about as well as he can do with it. Moreover, in listening to him give interviews and in reading the rumors I am heartened that he/they is seeing the team in the same way I am.

But I am getting ahead of myself.

Getting back to the game, I thought that Roma’s strategy was to come out like gangbusters to try clipping an early lead, to press an already fatigued Inter and get their work in before their own fatigue set in. I don’t watch a whole lot of Roma games, but they looked pretty aggressive for what I perceive to be their usual.

Strama’s plan looked basic but the team seemed well practiced. Strama used the center midfielders to drop into space in front of the 3 defenders to clog the danger zone right in front of the goal mouth. Thankfully, in my opinion, Inter stopped trying to play in the middle of the park and instead bypassed it. Strama told the troops to go over or wide to advance the ball. I understand that there is some frustration from the fan-base that this team doesn’t have the class to play with style in the midfield. It’s a frustration that I share. But since our passing through the midfield is slightly less effective than the SDI missile defense plan, I am actually okay with the team acknowledging reality and finding other options – that is to say, more immediate options that can take place before an existing Inter player can be sold so that a new player can be brought in.

The play went one way and then another, but it wasn’t a big surprise that Roma took the initiative. Not being able to play in the middle of the park limits Inter’s capacity to initiate and hold play plus it’s Roma home against Inter… there’s no way they weren’t going to storm out of the gate.

Inter withstood the early pressure and started to turn the game about 15 minutes before the break. At some point the team realized that Livaja was a viable target up top and they started to use him. There was a goal by Guarin right before the halftime whistle but the second half right up to around 80 minutes was, in my opinion, Inter getting the better of the hosts. The last ten minutes or so Roma almost took it as Inter looked visibly exhausted.

Now I am going to use this game to circle around to something I was thinking as I watched this game.

As I said, it was an even game and probably a moderately pleasant one for the neutral to watch. But I couldn’t help to notice the frustration. The faults of the team are there for everyone to see. And no, I don’t really care at this point that they exist. I don’t care that Mudingayi is on the team. I don’t care because I know that he won’t be on the team when there is time to find someone better with a reasonable cost. The reality of the situation is that all Italian teams have holes in them and none of them can afford to be solid from top to bottom like we used to be.

But we are where we are and personally I think we are lucky to have Strama around that isn’t blind to the problems and is willing to patch up the holes without bitching too much. Bitching at the transfer policy is a sure fire way to end up unemployed. Strama is showing remarkable patience. He wants to play a certain way and he hasn’t got the players to play that way yet, but he is finding a way to play with what he’s got. And frankly, that’s all I asked of Rafa Benitez… it’s all I asked of him and didn’t get.

At the same time that the game was going on, Wes Sneijder agreed in principle to make the move to Galatasaray. Sneijder was a great player for us, especially during that magical season. His move will, over time, give Inter over 10 mil and save the club almost 20 mil in wages. We are where we are. This team can’t keep players at his wages. And if they did, they would need to see him on the field more often and more productive when he’s out there. I understand the rage at the management for the circumstances that this team is in. I understand it and I am trying to keep myself from participating because my head understands even if my heart doesn’t.

We are where we are… and I am happy to believe that we won’t be in this situation to much longer.