AS Roma welcome Inter Milan on Saturday evening as the slight favourites to have their way (27/20) in the weekend’s first blockbuster.
Over the season, both sides have tended to mirror one another, starting poorly before recovering with some surprising results around Christmas.
However, the past few weeks seem to have heralded a return to their previous form, as Roma lost to usual suspects Cagliari, while Inter fell at the San Siro to relegation scrappers Lecce.
This game will no doubt take on a crucial aspect, as both Inter and Roma look to reboot their seasons and justify their European ambitions.
Both sides’ recent poor form – as well as the snow, which has forced the FIGC to re-schedule the match to Sunday – will, however, arguably affect the game, imposing a tense, often slow rhythm as the teams struggle to express their best football.
It’s never easy to make a prediction regarding games of this magnitude, especially when one considers how prolific (or downright poor) Inter and Roma can be on any given day.
There are a few things, however, that we can shed light on: Inter will, for a start, be more than happy with a point, meaning Roma will have to barge past a solid (at least until recently) defence backed by one, possibly two tough, combative midfielders.
That said, Inter showed in their amazing 4-4 draw against Palermo that their defensive frailty still needs to be worked on and they are unlikely to keep Francesco Totti and company out for the full 90 minutes.
The same can be said for a Lupi defence still too inconsistent to keep the likes of Diego Milito and Giampaolo Pazzini at bay. Roma are priced at 5/4 to net twice or more, though I would bet on both sides scoring once, before seeing the game peter out, keeping the goal tally under the four mark – an eventuality quoted at 3/10.
A 1-1 draw is priced at 5/1 – the most likely of all the scorelines – though more cautious punters could put their money on a straight draw at 9/4.
Roma do, however, have an ace up their sleeve: timing. Last season, Mirko Vucinic scored a stunner in pretty much the last minute to beat the Nerazzurri early in the season.
Marco Borriello is also on that particular list as he smashed in an equaliser in the 85th minute, in a game Inter had to win to keep up the pressure on league leaders Milan.
At 22/25, back the Romans to shock their opponents once more by scoring the final goal of the game. New subscribers will be glad to hear that they can use their free £25 bet on such an eventuality, and stand to receive returns of £47 if successful.
On the goalscorers’ front, back Daniele De Rossi to net one of his rare (but always vital) trademark long-range goals at 13/4. Inter, on the other hand, can rely on the golden couple made up by Milito and Pazzini.
The first will always remember netting a stunning solo winner at the Stadio Olimpico two seasons ago, when he single-handedly won the Coppa Italia.
Just a few weeks before, Pazzini put a stop to Roma’s charge towards a richly-deserved title by scoring a brace for Sampdoria. They both cherish fond memories of the Olimpico, and will be happy to exploit Roma’s current defensive frailties: at 11/10 and 7/5 respectives, the duo are hot favourites to score at any time.
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