Serie A Preview: Roma vs Inter

Claudio Villa

The Nerazzurri look to bounce back from their disappointing draw with Cagliari when they travel to the Eternal City on Saturday.

I really don't understand this Inter squad. They thoroughly confuse me.

It's like the time my wife said years ago that I didn't have to buy her a Valentine's Day present only to throw a fit when I complied with her request.

"You said I didn't have to buy you anything," I pleaded. "Well, I didn't actually mean what I said," she retorted. That exchange makes just as much sense as the Nerazzurri dropping two points to Cagliari last weekend.

Inter was riding a nice wave of momentum heading into the clash at San Siro but came out flat and fell behind before managing to barely keep its head above water and earn a point.

How does Inter beat Fiorentina twice but fail to secure a win over the Sardinians in two tries this season? And it's that type of inconsistency that's driving me bonkers with this particular squad.

The Nerazzurri haven't been able to muster up more than two victories in a row and are tied for the most draws in Serie A with 10. Every time they look like they're going to take a major step forward they fall flat on their face.

Things don't get any easier for the Beneamata, who must travel to the capital city to lock horns with a team that already thrashed them 3-0 earlier in the campaign.

Before the match last weekend I was feeling quietly confident that Inter was going to avenge the earlier defeat to the Giallorossi and reel off its longest winning streak of the season over the next six weeks, but those dreams have been dashed already.

I have no idea what to expect next and the 'only thing I know is that I know nothing at all' about this current Inter team.

THE VITALS

Date: Saturday, March 1, 2014

Time: 2:45 ET

Venue: Stadio Olimpico

BATTLE DOSSIER

Inter Probable Starting XI: 3-5-2: Handanovic; Rolando, Samuel, Juan Jesus; D'Ambrosio, Guarin, Kuzmanovic, Hernanes, Nagatomo; Palacio, Icardi

Roma Probable Starting XI: 4-3-3: De Sanctis; Torosidis, Benatia, Castan, Romagnoli; Pjanic, De Rossi, Strootman; Gervinho, Destro, Llajic.

Unavailable For Duty: Hugo Campagnaro will miss Saturday's festivities through injury but everyone else will be available for selection.

Operation Pjanic At The Disco: The objective is to stifle the midfield general's creativity in the hope that the enemy stalls and they are left vulnerable to a late counter-attack.

Enemy Of The State: Former Inter youth striker Mattia Destro has scored six goals in six Serie A starts, including two in his last two outings. The Italian will be amped up to add to his tally especially after the Nerazzurri cut him loose before giving him a chance with the senior squad. I expect Destro to make a big impact on proceedings. I'm so glad we included Destro in the deal for Andrea Ranocchia as that has worked out so well for us. Good grief.

Fear Factor: 8: Roma is as scary as the moment you realize that trading in your inexperienced but gifted lover for a tall yet overrated, mistake-prone train wreck of a partner, who quickly falls out of favor while the starlet blossoms into a bona fide heartbreaker, was a huge mistake that will likely haunt you for years to come.

Medal Of Honor: Hernanes returns to his former stomping ground to face his old rivals and expect a stellar performance from the Brazilian. Jeers will rain down from the Olimpico every time he touches the ball but that shouldn't faze the midfielder, who will hopefully leave the stadium more despised than when he entered.

If Inter Wins: I will gleefully sip on some Chimay Blue and usher in the first day of March, which means I can bid adieu to a more fickle February than usual.

If Roma Wins: I will harass my mangiacake brother-in-law a little more than usual when he comes to visit with my sister and mom over the weekend. I will probably also push the good beer to the back of the fridge and serve him some wimpy North American lagers instead.

Likely Outcome: It's hard to see Inter picking up any points here but stranger things have happened this season. Even with Francesco Totti sidelined I think Roma rolls to a comfortable victory unfortunately.

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