Gasperini's Inter struggles continue, but Roma already showing signs of improvement under Luis Enrique

The 2010 European champions are still looking for a first win, and while the Spaniard's outfit are in the same boat, the signs for them are more positive
By Kris Voakes at San Siro

If it was the battle of the beleaguered bosses, then there really was a winner and a loser in last night’s 0-0 draw between Inter and Roma at San Siro. Gian Piero Gasperini, pilloried in the press and whistled from the stands, finally avoided defeat as Inter coach, but it was Luis Enrique whose side showed the greater signs of encouragement, with his players beginning to display some evidence that they could revel in his attacking 4-3-3 system.

If Roma’s set-up proved one thing, it’s that a formation can be little more than a numbers game sometimes. Francesco Totti, nominally stationed up front, spent much of the game playing at the attacking point of an imaginary midfield diamond, with Daniele De Rossi turning in a majestic display full of confidence, assurance and awareness at its deep axis. In fact, the vice-captain was so withdrawn that he was practically a third centre-half, spending much of the game nearer his team’s goal than makeshift full-backs Simone Perrotta and Rodrigo Taddei, taking the responsibility to restart attacks away from Simon Kjaer and Nicolas Burdisso.

It was a bold decision by Luis Enrique to field wingers in the two full-back slots, but it was a largely successful switch. Both will have to learn to take fewer risks on the ball if they are to make it a longer-term gig, but the Spaniard may well consider that a downside he can deal with if only his side can be more creative and assured on the ball in deep positions.

MATCH FACTS | Inter 0-0 Roma

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Pablo Osvaldo continued to look slightly out of his comfort zone coming from the left, with a chance at the very beginning of the second half when he was foiled by the anticipation of Julio Cesar showing that he may not quite have the deftness of movement required for one of the wider positions. Add to the fact Roma lack a physical presence centrally, it can’t be long before Luis Enrique switches the Italo-Argentine. Fabio Borini was a positive on the right, giving Andrea Ranocchia a rough time of it both inside and out, suggesting Bojan Krkic may be left kicking his heels a little longer.

That they didn’t break through to snatch a winner had more to do with their inability to find that crucial final ball than Inter’s doughtiness in defence. Lucio didn’t have the easiest time up against Osvaldo, and with Ranocchia also struggling, Walter Samuel – playing as the spare man for much of the night – proved incapable of bringing the ball out and distributing with any kind of aplomb.

Wesley Sneijder remains the Nerazzurri’s go-to man, but when he starts from a deeper midfield position, there is only so much he can do to knit play together between the central three and the attackers. Diego Forlan tried hard in the first half to fulfil the role of link man, but after the break his effectiveness faded.

It all points to a rather lifeless Inter unit at the moment, lacking inspiration and drive; one which is in need of work, in need of TLC. And the jury remains very much out on Gian Piero Gasperini’s ability to carry out the necessary repair work.

But for Roma, last night was a step in the right direction. A positive approach, a confident demeanour and a moral victory was gained. They will find less daunting prospects over the next 36 games, starting with Siena on Thursday, and with the plus points far outweighing the minuses, there is no reason to suggest that Luis Enrique can’t take the club forward.

Whatever happens, the Giallorossi will look to play attractive, flowing football all the while. They know where they’re going. Inter haven’t a clue right now.

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