Roma 0 – 4 Inter

In its roundup of the weekend football The Gazzetta Dello Sport asked it’s readers ‘where is the team that last year duelled with Inter for the Scudetto until the final minutes?’ And while it would be pertinent to point out that Roma lost 4-1 at home to the same team early last season, after last night’s 4-0 walloping it’s pretty clear that they’re not going to challenge for the league again this year. I hate to say it, but they’ve probably missed their chance to do it again for the foreseeable future too. Roma weren’t massively outplayed and the scoreline definitely flattered Inter, but there’s no doubt that they were beaten by a much better team, with far greater resources and a seriously great manager.

For the first time I went to the Olimpico on my own, which proved to be extremely odd; partly because the only reason I have any connection with Roma at all is because of Spangles, and also because for me going to football has always been a very social experience. Part of the fun is having a drink with friends before and after the game, and feeling like your part of a wider community, and the language barrier (my Italian is getting better, but the local dialect is very hard to understand) means I don’t feel like I can start chatting away to random strangers.

A big game at the Olimpico can be a hell of an experience though, especially in you’re in the Sud, which was packed out as usual…

And along with both the Curva Nord (that little pocket to the left is Inter’s woeful away support, who were impossible to hear at any point during the game)…

And the Tribuna Tevere (far side) four fifths sold out…

We had ourselves easily the biggest and noisiest crowd of the season so far. As you can see from these pics I’ve moved places again, this time to right at the back of the stand behind the seats where I can stand up, with a good view of what’s going on. Unfortunately I’m also next to some real mouth breathers, who spin around to punch and high kick the metal sheeting at the back of the stand. These looked like the sorts who get really unhinged during games, internalising their passion instead of expressing it through singing and bouncing, so that every utterance is a gut wrenching outpour of bile. It doesn’t help that they were playing rivials whose two key players were both black (Balotelli) and a gypsy (Ibrahimovic) and soon that bile was going to go way overboard into unacceptable territory.

Anyway Inter opened the scoring after four minutes, Ibra breaking the offside trap and cooly lobbing over the advancing Doni, while the crowd baying at the linesman for not putting his flag up for an offside that I couldn’t see. There then followed a few minor decisions that went Inter’s way that brought the the already incredibly hostile crowd up to a vicious boiling point. This coupled with the fact that Roma couldn’t clear the ball and nearly conceded a comical own goal when Juan sliced the ball a pubic hair’s width past the post meant things were getting desperate and ugly in the ground. I felt extremely uncomfortable in a way I wouldn’t at Chelsea, and when Balotelli missed a sitter from no more than eight yards something happened which hasn’t in England for the best part of 20 years. A chorus of boos and monkey noises rolled down from the Sud, and while boos and monkey chants sound very similar (Itlalians go boo-boo-boo, not boooooooo, booing fans), the openess hostility was apparent, as was the guy near me’s frenzied ape impression. Now at Chelsea I would have said something, but among this bile there was no way I was saying thing to anyone. Righteous and anti-racist I may be, but I am neither brave or stupid.

After that Roma got back into the game, and the crowd stayed behind the team, Totti started to have a real influence on things and was linking the play up brilliantly. Encouragingly they were getting in behind Inter as well, but a paralysing inability to shoot at the right time scuppers most of their attacks, and WHY CAN’T SPELLITI START WITH TWO STRIKERS UP FRONT instead of sticking Vucinic on the left when Totti plays?

All through half-time all I could notice was the strange looks I was getting, the exact same looks I would give a complete stranger at the Bridge if they suddenly plonked themselves by me, so I grabbed a beer and drank it without looking at anyone, while thinking positive thoughts. Thoughts that would were smashed by another well-taken Ibra goal two minutes after the re-start, which was then followed only a minute after by Roma missing a ridiculous sitter, the sort where you miss a one-on-one, only for it to ricochet off your face and over the bar. It was at that point everyone knew the game was up, and Inter then decided to score to wonder goals just to rub it in, first Stankovic slapping in a half volley from a cleared corner, and then Obena taking advantage of Roma’s decision not to tackle anyone by dribbling towards the goal and slapping it straight ion the top corner. An hour gone and a horrendous, humiliating caning on live TV was happening.

I remember back in 1997 my uncle Gerry (friend of the family, not a real uncle) said something that will stay with me forever. We were being bitch slapped 3-0 by Arsenal on telly at the Bridge and with about 15 minutes to go he groaned to all of us young ‘uns that wanted to escpae the horror; ‘you’ve gotta just sit back and take it boys, right to the grim end.’ That really stuck with me, and I rarely left a Chelsea match before the final whistle since. Well that same Dunkirk spirit took hold of the Sud, which broke out into defiant singing for 20 minutes, reeling off a few songs and generally putting their Inter counterparts to shame. I recorded a video of it which for some reason I can’t upload, but take it from me that it was very impressive indeed and included a variant on Que Sara Sara, which I rather liked, despite not knowing any of the lyrics. It at least made up in a small way for the nasty shit before, and made sure their team didn’t allow Inter to make it any more humiliating.

I left with ten minutes to go and trudged home, getting sympathetic looks from people on the way, but I didn’t really feel sad. I’m not one of them, not really.

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5 Responses

  1. que serà serà
    ovunque vi seguirrem
    ovunque vi sosterrem
    que serà serà

    it’s what you sing when you’re on the wrong end of a horrendous humiliating spanking. at home. three days before you play last year’s champions’ league finalists in a crucial match and you look like your defenders have never met before and you couldn’t score in a smack-dealing brothel.

  2. Thanks for the report, yours is an unusual perspective, and one with which it’s easy for a fellow outsider to identify (apart form the Roma and Chelsea supporting thing). Balotelli didn’t play, though, I wonder who it was who got that explosion of abuse. I can’t think of anyone missing a sitter (though as an Inter fan perhaps I closed my eyes for that part), and the majority of the loud abuse I heard over the TV was directed, oddly, at the totally inconsequential Quaremsa, so apart from naming random black guys, I can’t even guess.

    I wish you and Spangles luck at getting through tomorrow intact.

  3. Well they all look the same don’t they? EH?

    (It must have been Obena then, which would have made sense given that the chance was on the right hand side of the pitch.)

    It was slammed over the bar after about ten minutes, if you can remember that. Not that it made much difference.

  4. It was Obinna, who made up for it later.

    Thankfully, I missed the monkey chants while watching the second half on television.

    What I didn’t miss was the absolutely glorious rendition of Que Sera, Que Sera and a number of other standards that the Sud produced after Inter’s fourth.

    It was genuinely impressive, and not anything that you would see from either Curva up here.

    And what Martha said about the Champions League. . .

  5. You people are making me question what I saw now. I don’t like this one bit.

    We’re going to beat Roma to be honest, I’d be surprised if a side with no confidence and injuries at the back stand much of a chance. The problem is that only Bordeoux at home is looking like a properly winnable game, with Cluj and us away not looking very appetising.

    Incidentally I heard loads of them shitting themselves about Wednesday, just shaking their heads while saying ‘Chelsea’ a lot.

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