Inter 0-3 AS Roma

Roma have wreaked havoc in Serie A this term and sit pretty at the top of the table with a 100% record after 7 games. It’s almost beyond belief that this was the same side that struggled in recent campaigns. Rudi Garcia has won over the fans and more importantly, the players. Here’s a man that has changed the mentality of the squad and has brought a sense of calmness and harmony in the dressing room. The team now doesn’t look like a bunch of talented individuals but a talented team.

Francesco Totti - AS Roma

A classic display from Francesco Totti

It was another classic display from Francesco Totti who still remains the heart-beat of the side. Two goals on the night for the eternal city’s eternal captain along with a bit of magic in the build-up to the third goal, Totti put on an ageless display which really makes you wonder whether he really is 37. Garcia’s tactical versatility was also highlighted in terms of the approach his side took. The Giallorossi have been used to controlling possession but they showed the counter-attacking side of the game they were comfortable with.

What Garcia also managed to do is bring out the best in Daniele De Rossi. The midfielder failed to replicate the National Team levels for club side in recent years but not this season. No, he’s been the vital cog in a truly dominating and overwhelming midfield alongside Kevin Strootman and Miralem Pjanic. If there’s a lesson to be learned here, it’s that Roma are the real deal and without Europe, they can strongly mount a challenge on Juve’s throne.

It was the biggest test of the season for Roma and one they came out with flying colors. Around a 1000 fans were preparing to greet their heroes upon their return to Rome, an ovation they richly deserved. As for Inter, Mazzarri’s side have a lot more work to do but they are on the right path. A title shot maybe unrealistic but their objective to complete the season in a Champions League spot certainly isn’t beyond their reach.

Juventus 3-2 AC Milan

Antonio Conte - Juventus manager - Champions League Group B preview

Antonio Conte (above) will have lots to think about during the international break

19 seconds is all it took for Sulley Muntari to breach the Juventus defense. For a side that has been praised for their strong defense, it didn’t take too long for Milan to penetrate. Juventus showed the resilience we’ve come to associate with Conte’s team. With goals from Andrea Pirlo, Sebastian Giovinco and Giorgio Chiellini, they marched on to another victory. But much like their season, they were made to work for it.

It was a game that had its fair share of controversy. Philippe Mexes should have been sent off for a punch on Giorgio Chiellini but the incident went unnoticed. He did, however, receive his marching orders later on. Juventus capitalized on gave themselves a two goal cushion with a decent finish by Chiellini after Pirlo struck the cross-bar with a free-kick. Milan gave themselves hope towards the end of the game as a Paul Pogba error was pounced on by Muntari. Eventually, they did enough to see out the game.

Two points off runaway leaders Roma, Juventus may be grinding out victories but their performances leave a lot to be desired. The Bianconeri are yet to hit top gear and barring their dual victories over Lazio, they’ve hardly been convincing. The International break will be welcomed by Conte who may have the time to ponder up on a few new tactics and approaches that will make them less predictable.

As for Milan, they have deep lying issues which need to be resolved if they are to be taken seriously. Just two wins in the seven games so far, the Rossoneri lie in 12th position. With rivals for a Champions League spot all getting off the mark faster than Milan, they need to up their game to keep themselves in contention. At the rate they’re moving, they face the frightening reality of missing out on Europe altogether.

And Elsewhere . . .

Elsewhere, Napoli continue to steamroll opponents in Serie A with a crushing 4-0 victory over Livorno. Rafa Benitez made a few changes to his regular line-up after their midweek European fixture; it was still a strong enough Napoli to maintain their pace. Fiorentina and Lazio played out a drab goal-less stalemate in which both sides looked lethargic. Both teams were coming off Europa League action and it was evident that they looked tired. On a brighter note, Giuseppe Rossi was re-called to Cesare Prandelli’s Italy side. His last game for the Azzurri came two years ago against Serbia and his ability to recover from an injury nightmare bears testament to his mental strength.

A word of praise for Hellas Verona, who are quickly making people take notice. Verona have been the revelation of the season and dispatched quite easily of struggling Bologna. Luca Toni was amongst the goals again as was Jorginho, who looks like a genuine talent. They are in 5th spot right now and while it’s hard to think of them finishing that high, they will be cherishing every moment of the present.