Roma vs. Inter Milan: 6 Things We Learned
Whatever title hopes Roma held have now slipped away, following a disappointing 0-0 draw with Inter at the Stadio Olimpico.
The Giallorossi couldn't find a way past Walter Mazzarri's well-organised Inter, and neither side could break the deadlock in an eerily silent stadium.
Read on for the main talking points.
Injuries Hurt Roma
Gervinho managed to be fit for this game—which had seemed unlikely during the week. He started the game at a lightning pace, but Roma lacked a cutting edge up front—the combination of confidence and composure that is usually inspired by Francesco Totti.
Young Adem Ljajic was excellent but probably should have found the net in the first half, when the Serbian was particularly impressive and caused Inter real problems at the back. Likewise, Mattia Destro, who had a goal ruled offside, wasn't as incisive as he might have been.
Those three are fine players, but they're more impressive when playing with their captain, whose absence was noticeable.
Another player who was sorely missed was former Inter man Maicon. Vasilis Torosidis isn't a bad player, but the Brazilian full-back offers far more going forward and always seems to unleash Gervinho more effectively than his Greek counterpart.
Had he and Roma's famous No. 10 been fit, this game would have been very different.
Walter Mazzarri Knows What He's Doing
Times have been tough for Walter Mazzarri since he took over at Inter. They're more than 20 points off the pace in the championship and still have the year's surprise package, Hellas Verona, nipping at their heels for fifth place and the final Europa League spot.
The former Napoli manager wasn't brought in with a quick fix in mind, however, and he's been busy with rebuilding. A result like this proves that while he still has work to do, Inter are heading in the right direction.
This fixture ended up in a drab draw, but Inter won't mind. Roma have been excellent this year, and coming to the Olimpico, few sides expect to leave with points. The Nerazzurri earned their draw and sent a message to the rest of the league.
On their day, they're a good side. The Champions League is out of reach, but they can still finish the season strongly and put their opponents on guard for next year.
Adem Ljajic Needs Confidence
Adem Ljajic is a precocious talent who will almost certainly develop into one of Serie A's best players soon. But he needs confidence. Against Inter, he did everything right—apart from score.
Some of his crosses were wayward. One pass in particular—when he just dribbled past the Nerazzurri defence and into the heart of their area—stood out. Instead of looking for Gervinho, he should have kept going and tested Samir Handanovic.
Rudi Garcia needs to give him a regular run of games to see if Ljajic can find his scoring form. Because with a little more self-belief, there would be no stopping him.
Roma's Defence Never Stops Being Impressive
Leandro Castan was his usual self: industrious, physical, controlled.
His partner at centre-back, Mehdi Benatia, started slowly but improved immensely after the break, showing a mental resilience and determination to perform that few defenders can match.
The Moroccan had been troubled in the early stages by Mauro Icardi, but in the second half, he almost completely nullified the Argentine with excellent positioning and the way he read the game.
Alessio Romagnoli Is an Exciting Prospect
The aforementioned pair has been central to Roma's success this season—but on the night, Castan and Benatia were perhaps upstaged by Alessio Romagnoli.
The 19-year-old from Anzio, a seaside town just south of Rome, had an excellent game at left-back, getting forward whenever possible while not allowing Inter's Jonathan much space in the Giallorossi's half. It was a performance that belied his years, and it was exciting to see how well he soaked up the pressure alongside his more illustrious teammates.
Roma have always prided itself on having local heroes, and while it is very early days for Romagnoli, it's thrilling to think that they've unearthed another one.
Inter Need to Keep Hold of Samir Handanovic
This is hardly news to anyone who's seen him play, but Samir Handanovic is perhaps Inter's most important player right now.
The Slovenian was impeccable again against Roma, making several key saves and keeping a cool head throughout, even when the hosts piled on the pressure.
Clubs will come knocking in the summer, looking to snap him up; right now there are few keepers better than him. Inter need to make sure he doesn't get away.