As the boos rained down on him from the Giallorossi faithful inside the Stadio Olimpico. Luciano Spaletti, returning for the first time since his departure as Roma coach, cut a morose figure. He would have the last laugh.
Both teams need to incorporate new or previously injured players sooner rather later
One thing that was clear from this match was the general lack of width and attacking effectiveness coming from both team’s wingbacks. For Roma, the absence of Alessandro Florenzi is apparent. The speedy right back is returning from a second cruciate ligament injury that he suffered during the previous season. When healthy, the young Italian is a stalwart for his national team. His re-introduction into the squad cannot come soon enough, as Juan Jesus does not have the characteristics to excel on the wing.
As for Inter, it must be said that Nagatomo and D’Ambrosio are simply not at the level to be starting for a team with aspirations of qualifying for the Champions League. Inter made strides this summer to sure up the two defensive wingback spots with the acquisitions of Dalbert from Nice and Joao Cancelo from Valencia. However, until these players play a larger role in the squad, Interisti can continue to expect minimal contribution from their current starters.
Roma will struggle to replace the loss of Mohamed Salah
Edin Dzeko opened his account for the season with a goal that put all of the forward’s skills on full display, but it was all for not. Though the Bosnian finished his early opportunity with aplomb and was dangerous throughout the match, one couldn’t help but notice the complete absence of play from the Giallorossi’s right wing. Gregoire Defel was brought in this summer from Sassuolo, but aside from his pace, the player does not currently look to be the man Roma needs to replace Salah. The Egyptian winger scored 15 goals in 31 matches last year with Roma, in addition to creating numerous scoring opportunities for his teammates. Replacing him, it seems, will not be easy for Roma’s new Sporting Director Monchi.
Radja Nainngolan is a bad man
It’s difficult to not be impressed with the play of Radja Nainngolan. Whether the tempestuous Belgian midfielder is hustling back to lay into a crunching challenge, or charging forward in a burst of speed to join in the attack, the player is truly exceptional. Providing the assist for Dzeko’s goal, and ratting his own shot off of the post, Nainngolan was involved in most of the Giallorossi’s most dangerous scoring chances. However, it is evident from the two games played thus far, that the Roma midfield perhaps lacks from some dynamism outside of the play of the Belgian. Neither Kevin Strootman nor Daniele De Rossi can be characterized as fleet of foot, and it is this lack of movement that makes this 3-man midfield, coupled with the lack of wing play, ill-suited to new coach Eusebio Di Francesco’s attacking style.
Mauro Icardi will need to finish at a high rate for Inter to succeed this year
Mauro Icardi is a world class striker. Football fans who have never watched Serie A may not be aware of this fact, but the young Argentinian almost single-handedly carries the weight of scoring for the Nerazzurri. Though the play from the wings was generally lacking from both sides, Icardi was given very little support from wingers Ivan Perisic and Antonio Candreva, with the latter in particular failing to impress on the day. It is still early in the season, and the Nerazzurri can find solace in the fact that their players are still adapting to the demands of a new coach, but if they are to meet their objective of qualifying for the Champions League, some of Icardi’s attacking compatriots will need to step up their play.
Roma must improve on defense
Roma have almost made an art out of acquiring undervalued central defenders and selling them off for exorbitant fees, most recently selling Antonio Rudiger to Chelsea for €40million – it had to catch up to them at some point. For both of his goals, Mauro Icardi lost his defender and found himself with acres of space in the middle of the 18-yard box, and ample time to pick his spot and finish. Matias Vecino’s goal was a simple tap in. While the Giallorossi can typically count on consistent performances from Kostas Manolas, behind him is a menagerie of unreliable or untested central defenders. With the market likely to close before a suitable replacement is found, Roma fans will be hoping that Federico Fazio continues to progress into a more consistent defender.