Roma were able to fight back and beat their city rivals Lazio after trailing 1-0 at half-time. There were major events during the match starting with the missed penalty by Lazio and then the two surprising yet key substitutions made by Claudio Ranieri. The former Juventus boss removed both of his stars Francesco Totti and Daniele De Rossi at the half and his move paid off because the substitutes put in a lively performance in the second period.
The Giallorossi obviously owe the win in no small measure to Mirko Vucinic who scored a brace and remained calm during the tense moments of the match. While Sergio Floccari missed Lazio’s penalty-kick the Montenegrin confidently converted from the spot to draw the teams level. The victory puts Roma on top a point ahead of Inter with four matches remaining in the Serie A season.
Inter were able to beat fallen giants Juventus 2-0 on Friday in an expected win considering the struggles of the Bianconeri this season. The Nerazzurri struggled to breakdown the Old Lady despite the visitors playing with 10 players after Mohamed Sissoko was sent-off for a silly bookable foul in the first period. Sissoko had earlier received a yellow card so the meaningless foul on Javier Zanetti yielded the second yellow card and meant the referee had no choice but to issue his marching orders. There were debates as to whether the first yellow shown to Sissoko was a merited one but there are no doubts he deserved to be cautioned the second time.
Inter did deserve to get all three points and the goal which broke the deadlock was a stunner by Brazilian full-back Maicon who showed great skills to control and then volley the ball beyond Gianluigi Buffon. It can be said the Bianconeri were not horrible during the match but they were overmatched the moment they went a player down. One player who ought not to be chosen for the Azzurri squad headed to South Africa 2010 is Brazilian born Amauri who recently became an Italian citizen. The experienced Marcello Lippi said he would consider picking Amauri yet it is mind boggling as to why the struggling forward could be chosen ahead of other worthy strikers.
Juve’s defeat was not Amauri’s fault yet coming in as a substitute the only notable contribution he made was his messy attempt to clear the ball and block Maicon who easily tricked Amauri to launch his classy strike which effectively won the match for the Nerazzurri. Simply put, Amauri just cannot do anything right at the moment and his season has been nothing short of catastrophic considering the high expectations placed on his shoulders.
On another front, Milan were effectively eliminated from the title race after a 2-1 loss in Genoa to Sampdoria who were grateful for strike duo Antonio Cassano and Giampaolo Pazzini for scoring the two goals. The next two rounds will be crucial in determining the destination of the title. Next weekend Roma will host Sampdoria in a tricky match but the Giallorossi ought to be able to defeat the visitors who have already lost nine games away from Genoa this season. As for the Nerazzurri they will have a relatively easy match against the visiting Atalanta who are struggling in the relegation zone. The visitors did achieve a good result this weekend by beating Fiorentina but Inter will be a better quality opposition.
The title race might be decided during the last round of fixtures when Inter Milan and Roma travel to take on Siena and Chievo respectively. Roma will have the advantage of being able to focus on the league while Inter will be distracted by the two titanic clashes against Barcelona in the Champions League semi-final. The Nerazzurri are still on course for a historic treble while the Giallorossi could still achieve the domestic double since they are going to play Udinese in the return leg of the Coppa Italia semi-final.
It will be an interesting few weeks for Calcio fans with the supporters of Milan, Juventus and Lazio perhaps the least content amongst the tifosi across the peninsula. As for the supporters of both Roma and Inter, this could be a rewarding season or it could as easily turn into a disappointing campaign depending on the results.