The Coppa Italia final should have been a showpiece event. Without doubt the two best teams in Italy, slugging it out not only in Serie A but also to decide who would take home the spoils in Italy’s premier cup competition. Inter scored the only goal of the game, but football unfortunately took a back seat as much of the match was littered with incidents that were anything but sporting.
The Good: Inter were, well, Inter. They were, as we have come to expect, magnificently well-drilled in midfield and defence. Esteban Cambiasso was a one-man wall, screening the back four from every Roma attack just as he did against the Catalan giants of Barcelona. Strikers Samuel Eto’o and Diego Milito seem to have an inexhaustible supply of energy and commit to the defensive cause as much as they do to the attack. Indeed, it was the superlative Argentinean who made the most of a quick Milanese counter to shrug off Philippe Mexes and smash his shot past Julio Sergio. After that, Inter put a great big defensive padlock on the final third of the pitch and the game was as good as over.
The Bad: Roma did manage to breach the Nerazzurri defensive block on two occasions. However, both efforts were missed when it seemed easier to score. Juan headed over from six yards with the goal unguarded as Julio Cesar was left prostrate on the ground after a Francesco Totti free-kick rebounded off his arms. Mirko Vucinic then shot tamely wide when put through by Marco Motta with just the goalkeeper to beat. A couple of golden Roman opportunities wastefully missed by two usually very dependable and able players. The writing was very much on the wall for Claudio Ranieri, and there was little the Tactician could do as things proceeded to get a whole lot worse.
The Ugly: Roma lost not only the match but also their heads. This particularly brutal list of events included Nicolas Burdisso’s thigh high studs-up challenge on Wesley Sneijder which saw the Dutchman leave the field injured, and Phillipe Mexes’ right hook to Marco Materrazzi’s midriff. The second period saw more of the same, as Simone Perrotta stamped on Eto’o’s heel, Francesco Totti kicked Mario Balotelli in the head whilst the young striker lay on the floor and then, just moments later, lashed out at him with a boot to the back of the leg and was rightly sent off. As the final whistle blew the Olimpico turned into a free-for-all as a Roma fan made it onto the pitch and started to attack one of the Inter players. The list of misdemeanours could go on.
The game was certainly no spectacle and some of the Giallorossi players disgraced themselves, not least of all Totti. The grimace on his face and the force with which he kicked Balotelli summed up the evening for Roma, the Italian FA (FIGC) almost certain to intervene, with the Giallorossi’s captain potentially facing a lengthy ban. However, these sour incidents ultimately detracted from a polished Inter performance. Jose Mourinho has created a highly efficient machine of a team which is now on for a domestic and European treble.