There was no shortage of action, drama and controversy at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening during the 2-2 draw between Roma and Inter. The Giallorossi came back twice against the Nerazzurri as both sides certainly felt they deserved to walk away with the victory in the post match. Inter enjoyed the bulk of the possession throughout the match and quite often found themselves in goal scoring opportunities, while Roma had the better chances on goal — so it‘s appropriate to say it was an evening filled with attacking football.
VAR goes MIA
Italian football is often cast as always being two steps behind the others. In terms of stadia, marketing and match-day experience, there is no doubting that Serie A (and Italy as a whole) are far behind the likes of England and Spain. However, when it comes to VAR, which was introduced in Italy’s top flight last season, Serie A was ahead of the rest of the major European leagues.
What was unilaterally lauded as a major success last season, has turned into a confusing, messy and controversial tool this season. In fact, VAR has become so disheveled this season, that the Italian Referees’ Association called a meeting in Milan with Serie A clubs’ upper management to clear the air and add clarity to various, controversial VAR episodes from this season.
Fast forward to Roma-Inter, head referee Gianluca Rocchi and VAR referee Michael Fabbri failed to consult VAR during a clear penalty on Nicolo Zaniolo in the first half and also a potential shove from Kostas Manolas on Mauro Icard in the second half. What ensued following the match was a tirade from Roma director Francesco Totti and President James Pallotta, who both could not fathom why VAR wasn’t consulted on the clear penalty on Zaniolo. It was an episode that certainly affected the match because the Giallorossi conceded a goal just seconds after the non-call and undoubtedly leaves a bitter taste in the mouth of Roma.
Roma resilient despite packed injury list
There’s no doubt that Roma faced an uphill battle coming into the match as they were missing Edin Dzeko, Stephan El Shaarawy, Daniele De Rossi and Federico Fazio due to injury, while Javier Pastore and Diego Perotti were both called up for the first time in over two months.
Despite the long list of absentees, youngsters Nicolo Zaniolo, Cengiz Ünder and Patrik Schick led the attack and proved dangerous. While Schick certainly fell off the pace in the second half, Ünder and Zaniolo had strong performances and proved more than capable.
Di Francesco lives another day
All week in the lead-up to the match, several local newspapers and websites labeled this match as decisive for the future of Eusebio Di Francesco. The Italian tactician is on thin ice with Roma’s management and was likely to be given the sack had the Giallorossi lost to Inter.
However, the draw against Inter gives Di Francesco at least until next Saturday against Cagliari to change his fortunes at the club. The stakes against the Sardinian side on Saturday, though, could not be any higher. Should Roma lose, it’s very possible that the club would send Di Francesco away because their mid-week Champions League match against Viktoria Plzen has no implications after having already secured qualification – which would allow their potential new manager a full week to prepare for their 16 December match against Genoa at home.
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