Roma-Inter Milan: Which Serie A Side Are You On?
Everyone faces a key decision from time to time. Career or family? Wealth or happiness? A big, bold bottle of Barolo or a light, sparkling Spumante?
Now, for followers or Serie A, it is time to chose between Inter Milan and Roma. They go head to head in the Stadio Olimpico in a title showdown. It could blow the championship debate wide open or pretty much seal the deal.
It would be simple to paint it as a battle of good versus evil.
Most neutrals will be backing the underdog, Claudio Ranieri's comeback Roma side. They have looked out of contention for most of the season but seem to have hit form at the right time. One more victory could give them major momentum.
With Milan's challenge slipping, the Giallorossi have suddenly become the only credible alternative to Inter. They have their frailties, yes, but the capital club are also capable of some stylish play.
The drive of Daniele De Rossi, the precision of David Pizarro, and the flair of Jeremy Menez make them a gripping spectacle. Add to that the darting velocity of Mirko Vucinic and the sheer nuisance value of Luca Toni and you get an interesting mix.
But will it be enough to beat the Nerazzurri?
The head says no. Jose Mourinho's side have owned this league in recent years and seem to have the clinical class to win the key encounters. They throw their opponents a crumb from time to time but, by and large, they keep the main meal for themselves.
The manner of their demolition of Livorno was a chilling warning. Sammy Eto'o looked in imposing form and Maicon Douglas Sisenando's strike was a thunderous beauty. The opposition was not the strongest, but it was still a signal of intent.
However, they will have Europe on their minds.
Having dumped Chelsea out of the Champions League, they would hate to slip up midweek against CSKA Moscow. The Russians have already shown they are no mugs. Could it distract the boys in blue and black from domestic business?
The answer, of course, is probably not. Nonetheless, the trip to Roma for Inter makes for a pleasant and unexpected late-season treat for the neutral.
Rather than the dull procession many feared, we have been given an intriguing conclusion to this campaign. It may yet disintegrate, but we should enjoy it while it lasts.
So it's time to jump down off the fence and pick the side you prefer. The deadly, dynamic Inter Milan or the audacious, artistic Roma?
Fans of most other sides will surely find their hearts drawn to Phillipe Mexes and company. That's not out of any disrespect to the Milan giants (although for some it is) but simply a desire for change. We would like to see someone other than Javier Zanetti lifting the league trophy.
However, if it is another Inter triumph, they will have earned it. Coming away from the Olimpico with anything other than defeat would be a major achievement, particularly with their European distractions.
These are the games which make football worth watching. It will likely have goals, drama, and controversy in equal measure.
Let's hope for a spectacle worthy of the build-up. Pour a glass of your favourite tipple, find a comfortable chair, and unplug the phone for a couple of hours. This is a showdown that Italian football should relish.
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