AS Roma played host to Inter in one of the most prominent fixtures of Serie A round 30 at Stadio Olimpico on Saturday night.
Ivan Perisic continued his impressive goalscoring run for Inter in the 53rd minute of the game, following a closely contested first half, but AS Roma fought well to get back in the game.
The home fans were made to wait long until the 84th minute for Nainggolan’s equalizer in an eventful fixture between the Champions League contenders this season, who showed great desire to record a morale-boosting win over great Serie A rivals.
And with the game ending in the 1-1 stalemate, we take our aim at the five talking points from the Saturday’s match:
Inter enjoying an improved run of form
Nerazzuri came close to completing a hat-trick of Serie A victories against AS Roma on Saturday night, but the match against Giallorossi has still been a definite confirmation of their improved form.
Roberto Mancini has been subjected to a lot of criticism at the beginning of the season for his defensive approach and lack of goals but his men have scored 11 goals in their last five matches prior to the trip to Rome, which has come as a huge refreshment to the first part of the season.
Nerazzurri did their best to continue the goalscoring exploits at Stadio Olimpico.
The visiting side were always in the game, at certain stages even dominating the proceedings in what has been a generally close-knit contest between two Serie A heavyweights.
Mancini’s men attacked mainly down the left-hand side through Nagatomo, Perisic and Ljajic, who were the most outstanding performers for the away team.
Inter did not back down from a challenge, always looking to put pressure on AS Roma’s back four which was seen as a welcoming change to defensively locked style of play we were all getting used to with Inter at the beginning of the season.
Eder disappointing, Perisic on fire
The 29-year-old Brazilian striker has been brought during January transfer window at the moment when Roberto Mancini was heavily critical over his team’s lack of attacking potential and influence.
Eder had been on Inter’s radar for a long period of time prior to the move and was expected to make an instant impact on the team. However, he has so far been utterly disappointing which was the case against AS Roma as well.
The Brazilian forward has played seven Serie A matches for Inter since his winter move from Sampdoria, but has failed to find the target in any of those games.
Still with the 12-goal tally he completed with Sampdoria, Eder was closely watched by AS Roma defenders, who contained Inter’s target man, limiting his effect on the play to second to none.
Despite the general improvement in the attacking aspect of Inter’s game, strikers continue to struggle and it was the midfielder, Ivan Perisic, who stole the limelight from his teammates in the last couple of games and against AS Roma with his 54th-minute goal on Saturday night.
The Croatian international has scored four goals in his last four appearances for Nerazzurri and his form has been widely applauded in the Italian media.
Garcia’s Roma vs Spalletti’s Roma
Such a short period of time has made a world’s difference for AS Roma.
Luciano Spalletti has managed to shake up the groggy Giallorossi and despite Saturday’s draw with Inter the improvement to Garcia’s last days are evident and obvious.
The first change was the most evident as well, as Spalletti changed the formation, switching to 4-4-2 and a different type of 4-3-3 which enabled the Italian tactician to get the best out of his attack-oriented squad.
Giallorossi have experienced a mental transformation as well as Roma-based club are playing with more confidence and determination.
Fluent, dynamic and passionate in their displays, Giallorossi were able to notch eight Serie A victories before the match against Inter which effectively got them back into the Champions League berth race.
Spalletti’s men are sitting in the third place at the Serie A standings, five points adrift of Inter who were denied the chance to cut the gap behind their Saturday’s rivals.
Champions League race still opened
Three Serie A clubs will secure direct promotion to UEFA Champions League at the end of the season and Juventus and Napoli have all but cemented their places in Europe’s elite competition.
AS Roma are still in the pole position from the third place, but Inter and Fiorentina will be fighting tooth and nail to claim their place in the competition.
With only six points separating the three sides, Serie A finish will offer plenty of excitement in the Champions League battle.
Spalletti right to leave Totti out of the team
Luciano Spalletti’s decision to leave Francesco Totti nailed to the bench has split opinions in Italy, but AS Roma’s results have so far worked in manager’s favour.
The legendary captain’s demise has perhaps been deprived of deserved dignity, but Francesco Totti should’ve been aware there is no place for emotions in the world of contemporary football as the new coach used the captain to impose his authority in the team.
Totti’s place on the pitch has been successfully filled by in-form Diego Perotti, who has been pretty impressive since his January arrival from Genoa.
The 27-year-old Argentinean has so far made seven Serie A appearances and has been utilized on flanks and in the middle of the pitch with his dominant and commanding performances being utterly captivating so far.
Even the most passionate football romantics will be forced to admit that Francesco Totti has not been missed and Giallorossi captain is well aware his time with AS Roma is drawing to a close.
AS ROMA: Szczesny 6.5 – Florenzi 7, Manolas 7.5, Rudiger 7.5, Digne 7 – Pjanic 6.5, Keita 6 (Dzeko 6), Nainggolan 7.5 – Salah 7.5, Perotti 7, El Shaarawy 7.
Unused subs: De Rossi, De Sanctis, Falque, Maicon, Strootman, Torosidis, Totti, Ucan, Vainqueur, Zukanovic.
INTER: Handanovic 7 – D’Ambrosio 6.5, Miranda 7, Murillo 7, Nagatomo 7 – Brozovic 7, Medel 6.5 – Biabiany 6.5 (Manaj 6), Ljajic 6.5 (Melo 6), Perisic 8 – Eder 6.
REFEREE: Daniele Orsato
Other results this evening
Empoli 0-0 Palermo