John Foot once wrote that it doesn’t take long in Italy for the press to start talking of a sacking. Sometimes a defeat is enough for La Gazzetta to employ terms like “crisis”, “freefall” or “trembling benches”, with Italy’s regional television channels gleefully following suit in a desperate hunt for sensationalism-driven ratings.
Last season, Franco Colomba was torpedoed in late August by Bologna and, true to form, Serie A seems to have already provided us with another early recipient of the brown envelope. After two respectable performances against Palermo and Trabzonspor, Giampiero Gasperini has been given an unofficial ultimatum: win against Roma, or it’s a coffee date with the firing squad and a chance to join Carlo Ancelotti in Sky Italia’s studios.
Having already had to swallow Massimo Moratti’s hints about switching to a four-man defence (which says a lot about exactly where Gasperini was on his preference list to replace Leonardo), the ex-Genoa manager must now face binge-shoppers Roma, with his side the favourites to win at 83/100, while a draw and a defeat are quoted at 5/2 and 16/5 respectively.
There is some more good news for Inter: they may be struggling to adapt to some radical tactical changes, but then so are their opponents, who brought in Luis Enrique during the summer in the hope that he might get Roma to emulate Barcelona’s tiki-taka. As the two sides need more time to hit their stride, I’m predicting a low-scoring affair (27/10 says that we’ll only see two goals), with both teams looking unlikely to score in the second half.
Having suffered the indignity of being knocked out of the Europa League by Slovan Bratislava, Roma were barely able to string two passes together against Cagliari, which is why a neat 7/4 bet on Inter winning after leading at half-time looks like an interesting punt. The Giallorossi are also 18/25 favourites not to net in the second half.
That said, this fixture has a rather spectacular past. The two sides have met in an incredible five Coppa Italia finals over the last seven years, with Roma even triumphing 6-2 one on occasion. Games at the San Siro always seem to be spicy, with a 4-3 Inter win in the 2006 Supercup topping the lot, the Nerazzurri coming back from three down to defeat Roma in an absolute stunner.
I Lupi have always been a thorn in Inter’s side, beating them 3-2 in 2005 thanks to a stunning Francesco Totti chip, even managing to postpone the Nerazzurri’s title celebrations in 2007 by a week on the back of a brilliant 3-1 win. Hence, for those looking to take a few risks, bwin is offering odds of 15/4 on the game seeing more than 4.5 goals, hardly an impossible total. A £25 free bet, which is available to punters who join bwin.com, on this outcome would see a return of £118.75.
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