Allen Hamilton

What: Italian Serie A
Who: Roma vs Inter
When: Saturday 25th August, 2010, at 19:45 UK Time
Where: Stadio Olimpico, Rome, Italy

Road to Recovery Starts Here?

Last season all of Serie A looked to Roma to end Inter’s domination, but despite a late surge, Claudio Ranieri’s men could not summon the strength to overhaul Jose Mourinho’s treble winners. Given such promise though, the Roma faithful were well within their rights to expect to be challenging once again this season. So far however, the Giallorossi have had a campaign to forget and find themselves stuck on two points after four games, without a win to their name and enter this game off the back of a 2-1 loss at relegation-tipped Brescia.

A meeting with Inter could be just what Roma need to get their season going and, crucially, relieve the pressure building on Ranieri. Speculation has linked former Italy boss Marcello Lippi with the job should the ex-Chelsea coach fail to lift Roma out of the doldrums. Ranieri knows the task ahead of his side to do that though, likening the Giallorossi to an ill patient. "It’s a difficult moment for us, while Inter are healthy, we are a patient who is recovering."

Benitez Revolution Cranking Up a Notch

If Inter are a patient stuck at the hospital recovering, then Inter are a man starting on his second marriage after his first wife left him. It is common knowledge that president Massimo Moratti would have loved to have kept Jose Mourinho, but the pull of Florentino Perez and Real Madrid proved too strong. In Rafael Benitez, Moratti now has another coach he has always rated, yet the Nerazzurri chief is still known to have his doubts about the Spaniard.

Inter have not done much wrong under Benitez, winning the Supercoppa Italia, but losing the UEFA Super Cup. Now though, they are top of Serie A and recorded an impressive 4-0 midweek home win over Bari. Yet, while Samuel Eto’o is in red hot form, comments by Diego Milto’s agent regarding Benitez’s supposed coldness compared to Mourinho, continue to add to concerns that the former Liverpool boss has not yet been fully accepted. The fact remains though, that should Benitez beat Roma in the Stadio Olimpico, a few more of those doubters will start to believe.

Recent form

Bayern Munich 2-0 Roma (15/09; Champions League)
Roma 2-2 Bologna (19/09; Serie A)
Brescia 2-1 Roma (22/09; Serie A)

FC Twente 2-2 Inter (14/09; Champions League)
Palermo 1-2 Inter (19/09; Serie A)
Inter 4-0 Bari (22/09; Serie A)

Key absences

Roma: Philippe Mexes (suspended); Julio Sergio; Francesco Totti (doubt); Daniele Di Rossi (doubt)

Inter: Javier Zanetti; Walter Samuel; Thiago Motta

Players to watch

Roma – Marco Borriello: The striker scored Roma’s only goal against Brescia and could have a big part to play in the meeting with Inter. Allowed to head to Roma on loan from AC Milan following the arrival of Zlatan Ibrahimovic at the San Siro, Borriello is keen to show what he can do and enjoy the extra playing time he will receive in the capital.  

Inter – Samuel Eto’o: Eto’o has already hit form this season and is looking as deadly as ever. While there have been question marks over just how much some members of the Inter squad are willing to give for Benitez, no-one could accuse Eto’o of giving less than his all. The Cameroon striker is lethal when given a chance and should be at the centre of all the attacking Inter do.

Match prediction

There is little doubt that Inter come into this game as the form team and Roma need to improve considerably to threaten the current Serie A champions. Claudio Ranieri’s men won’t lie down though and even holding Inter to a draw would be seen as a moral boosting performance, perhaps capable of stopping the rot at the Giallorossi. Inter should have enough to edge this game however, and should take the three points with a 2-0 win.