Shook Ones

I don't have the numbers at hand, and in no way whatsoever do I feel like looking them up, but Inter is Roma's most common opponent over the past five years. Right? I mean, they have to be. There are those who tire of it, I suppose, treating every such encounter with all the enthusiasm of a root canal. I think the games are useful, as they serve as makeshift breadcrumbs so we can go back and see where we came from. Each game marks the point of a special time in the teams' respective recent history, with Roma peaking in one of the Italian cup finals. Choose which one you like better, both answers are correct in their way. Everything before that was largely a story of Inter's unquestioned superior quality which had its own narrative. But for that one year, Roma and Inter were polar opposites. Inter was a heavy, strong team which mauled opponents down; Roma fast, technically brilliant and playing the most innovative football in Europe. Since then, the two teams have started resembling each other more and more, Inter becoming quicker and Roma more sluggish.

I just don't know what yesterday's game can tell us.

There are plenty of angles. Inter were ruthlessly efficient when attacking, taking advantage of most of the mistakes made. However, Roma showed remarkable will and strength of character in pushing back to 3-4 and going for a fourth. Sneijder was brilliant; so was Borriello. Could it be that it all comes down to Inter having Julio Cesar on form, and Roma having Julio Sergio out of form? The former made some stunning saves which needed the suspense of disbelief to work, while the latter did almost everything wrong during the game. It would be ironic, since when the teams played in March the Roma win was in no small part due to a reversal of the fortunes of last night.

It's hard to escape the fact that Inter's dominance down the wings also played a large role in deciding the game. Whereas Cassetti did well enough, Riise was every bit the calamity he's been for much of the season. Maicon and Zanetti, meanwhile, were very good for Inter and could seize control of the wings fairly easily. Perhaps Roma would have been well served by playing the same 4-3-3 that laid waste to Bayern, instead of a more centralized 4-3-1-2 where Borriello, oddly enough, did most of the running onto the flanks. Most of it came undone anyway, when Burdisso was sent off. It's hard not to feel for him here, because the feeling isn't that he takes out Pazzini maliciously, or that he even tries to take him out. Loria came on and that was, naturally, that. Not even a goal scored gives him a positive balance; check his positioning on the fourth Inter goal, and who was nowhere to be seen. His goal did however silence the home fans, which ended up one of the most entertaining things about the night for a romanista. At 4-3, and surely whispers of Newcastle doing the rounds in San Siro's stands, the stadium went quiet. Dead quiet. Only when Inter put the game beyond question did they rediscover their singing voices, which in the words of everyone's favorite mid 90's rap duo, makes them shook ones.