The Bauscia Wars

Before the world knew of men like Totti, Julius Caesar or even Adrian Pit, The Roman Republic had a problem: they fought the dominance of Carthage and its complete control of the sea, but weren't quite as strong in that crucial department. In fact, according to Polybius, Rome didn't even possess the knowledge of how to build functioning war ships of their own. So they studied their enemies, and learned what they knew. A century and three wars later, Carthage was destroyed and wiped off the face of the Earth that Rome now indisputably ran.

Twenty one centuries further ahead in time, that is precisely what Roma needs to do. AS Roma today is good, it knows how to fight a good fight, but has one decisive flaw: it lacks the knowledge of how to actually win the war. This is where the dominant force of our times, Inter, excel. Technically, the two are closer than you think, and the biggest difference maker is in attitude. It was Inter's greatest ally last year, and Roma's downfall (Lex Samp). Last night's game was the twenty fifth, I believe, between the two teams since Calciopoli laid waste to all other pretenders and only Inter and Roma stood firm. You'd think there would have been plenty of opportunities to study and adapt the attitude Inter exhibits during any of these clashes, but we're still left missing something.
          That killer decisiveness and determination, that which always eludes us. For the majority of the game, Roma played very well. For the majority of the game, Roma were perhaps even the better team. The genesis of the loss is not that Roma has so many players of inferior quality with respect to Inter that a win would be highly unlikely, its genesis is a penchant for stupid, silly mistakes. They don't stem from technical deficiencies; neither Vucinic nor Taddei committed those most grievous of mistakes because their skills didn't let them do anything else. This wasn't forced upon them by an adversary so dominant and superior that he can make the other guy commit mistakes. Vucinic's horizontal pass is an unforced error that can only be explained by two possible scenarios: (A) A brain freeze at the worst possible moment, (B) A lack of nerve and poise, or (C), both scenarios playing out at the same time. Likewise, Taddei doesn't have to start carrying the ball like that. He normally doesn't, and while I'm certainly not interested in defending him today (nor indeed on most days), that part is still key. He doesn't usually do this. Unlike Loria and his status as a clear and present danger to AS Roma, Taddei doesn't make that kind of mistake every game he plays, or even once every ten games he plays. It was idiotic, it was inexcusable, but it was also much, much worse than he does the vast majority of the time.
Inter, on the other hand, didn't play brilliant. Sneijder looked very well, but it also made him stand out for Inter as a result. Samuel and Lucio were tormented trying to deal with Totti's passes behind them, as Vucinic, Ménez and Riise came running out the gates. At the other end Mexès dealt fine with Milito, who as you may recall was in the top two for attackers in Europe last year. And so on. But Inter doesn't need to play brilliant to win, in fact they seldom do. Because they know how to win, and when you do, you don't have to play out of your skin to win. Especially not when the opponent folds mentally, and hands away the game. And let me be absolutely clear about this: saying so doesn't signify an attempt to strip some sort of glory from Inter or devalue them or their effort. On the contrary, they have something we lack and that we should envy. And learn. Just as the Republic needed to learn something vital from what was then the dominant force, Roma has to learn that something from Inter. If we don't it doesn't matter how many Totti assists, Ménez dribbles or Adriano goals we see in the future, we'll never win anything without that fundamental asset: determination and decisiveness.