Club Focus – Inter – The Second most Popular Team in Rome

You can’t really blame Inter for what transpired Sunday afternoon. They just turned up and did their job. How were they supposed to know that they had become the second most popular team in Rome since the last time they were there?

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In all seriousness, the events that at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday evening were a sad joke, and it is an indictment on Serie A that these things still happen, even in a post-calciopoli era. The way that Lazio spent the second half looking like they might have a heart attack should they do anything other than pass the ball around aimlessly was only topped by the way that their fans cheered Inter’s goals. Even the Catania chief executive Pietro Lo Monaco described the match as an ‘announced-win’, and if you can see the signs all the way from Sicily, then they must be fairly obvious.

The reactions of members of the Inter hierarchy were ridiculous as well, with Ernesto Paolillo rejecting the idea that Lazio laid down for the Nerazzurri, and Marco Branca claiming that the rapport between the two sets of fans led the Laziali to cheer Inter’s goals. This, added to Cristian Ledesma’s insistence that Lazio did not lie down, really tells the story of what happens.

Of course, for Inter, this is another important three-points on the way to another Scudetto, and the players will not have been unhappy with an easy 90 minutes of football. With the Coppa Italia final on Wednesday it will have been good for the players after their hectic schedule in the last few weeks.

The final promises to be hotly contested, as Roma will no doubt be anxious to show the Nerazzurri that they are the best team in Italy. The major concern for la Beneamata is the fitness of Lucio as – ironically – the Brazilian managed to pick up an injury in the most casual game of the season. Not having him against the in-form Francesco Totti and Mirko Vucinic would be a blow to the Inter defence, but the team are playing so well at the moment that Ivan Cordoba or Marco Materazzi will fit seamlessly into the side.

Usually, the Coppa would be way down on Inter’s list of priorities, but a chance to win the treble will be all the motivation they need. Jose Mourinho will be hoping that his team get more luck than the last time they faced the Giallorossi, but the team being in better form will surely help, and Mourinho will no doubt have a surprise ready should the side need a little extra.

Unsurprisingly, given the success of the club in recent weeks, the rumours surrounding the Portuguese Tactician’s future at the club continue to abound. Director Marco Branca has moved once again to state that the Nerazzurri have no intention of letting their coach go, and described a future without him as ‘absolutely unthinkable’. This is partly due to Real Madrid’s continuing ‘non-interest’ in Mourinho, and the fact that he has shown his ability to beat Barcelona will only have made him more attractive to los Blancos.

The main goal for Inter in the coming weeks, other than the obvious attempt to win both the Coppa and lo Scudetto, is to keep key players injury-free ahead of the Champions League final. Wesley Sneijder is the obvious candidate, and with the amount of niggling injuries he has picked up lately, needs to be treated like he is made of glass given his importance to the team. There are four games left this season: Roma, Chievo, Siena and Bayern Munich, if Inter can win these games then they will be the champions of Italy, Italian cup holders and, finally, the champions of Europe.

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