As I returned to Italy, I made my way to Bergamo to meet up with my father's cousin, Ciro. His friend is the doctor for the Inter youth team and got us tickets to the match. I stayed at Ciro’s house on Friday night and on Saturday we went to Milan to meet up with our uncle who lives in the city. We spent a few hours walking around in the center of the city. We stopped at Panzerotti Luini, near the Duomo, for some panini and dolci and I would definitely recommend going there. Around 7:00pm we took the Metro to San Siro. The newest line is the #5 and it takes you right to the stadium.
We arrived at the stadium around 7:30 and the atmosphere was already in full swing. There are many stands selling food, jerseys and scarves around the stadium. The riot police were there with their shields and batons protecting the Roma fans. Fans were already singing and chanting as we headed into the stadium. Walking into the stadium and seeing how big the Giuseppe Meazza is, was amazing. There was a copy of La Gazzetta dello Sport on each seat, which I thought was a nice gesture. Our seats were in section K02 on the first level in a corner under the Inter ultras. We were right by the tunnel to the locker rooms and we had a nice view of the field. During warm-ups, fans were all standing up in the first row snapping pictures and shouting out to the players. Before the teams came out for kickoff the whole stadium sung “Pazza Inter Amala”, which was impressive.
Roma controlled most of the possession in the early going of the match. The Giallorossi’s first chance came in the 15th minute when Lucas Digne played in a cross to find the head of EdinDzeko but Samir Handanovic got down well to make a good save. Roma had another great chance just a few minutes later as Handanovic made a good save on Maicon’s shot and DaniloD’Ambrosio made a goal-saving tackle on the rebound (Watch: https://twitter.com/LadsOffThePitch/status/660815777990332416). The visitors pressed with a high line of confrontation in the first half, which made it difficult for Inter to build up play from their back line but as the match went on, Inter found their way into the game.
Stevan Jovetic picked up the ball with his back to goal and laid the ball off for Gary Medel, whose low strike from 25 yards found the bottom corner of the net. The whole stadium erupted to celebrate the 1-0 lead. In the final minutes of the first half, Roma were dominating play and were threatening for the equalizer but Inter hung on to their lead.
Gary Medel was the first Inter player on the field for the secondhalf and he received a standing ovation when Geoffrey Kondogbia replaced him only 6 minutes after the restart. The game opened up in the second half and the action was end-to-end. There was a hectic sequence when Handanovic made 4 saves in 4 seconds! The goalkeeper got down to save Florenzi’sshot from distance, made a kick save with his feet on the rebound from Salah, got up to save the ball bouncing off his own defender and then caught Salah’s header. From my seat, I thought the ball went into the net two times in that sequence! Handanovic did brilliantly to keep the ball out of the net. In the 73rd minute Miralem Pjanic received his second yellow card and was sent off. The Inter fans heckled and cursed at him as he made his way off the field and down the tunnel. Despite going down to 10 men, Roma still had more possession but couldn’t create any real threats on goal. Inter had a few counter attack opportunities but they weren’t clinical enough to double their lead. Inter hung on for a huge three points, leapfrogging Roma in the standings.
While Roma actually played well, Inter were better organized in defense and Handanovic was absolutely superb. The atmosphere for big games at the Giuseppe Meazza is spectacular. 59,213 fans screamed and howled at every bad call and applauded loudly for every tackle or good play. When Roma’s Nainggolan pulled a shot wide right before halftime, the fans behind the goal were screaming and giving the middle finger to him. After watching so many games at the San Siro on TV, to be there for a big match was a really special and memorable experience.
Some Player Notes:
Samir Handanovic – Fantastic game from the goalkeeper. Made some great saves and was the Man of the Match.
Danilo D’Ambrosio – Had a good game including the goal saving tackle on Dzeko in the first half.
Freddy Guarin – This may already be established but he’s the most inconsistent player in the world. At times he looks great and then there’s times when he looks just awful.
Stevan Jovetic – Played well and looked very good. Had the assist to Medel. I was surprised when Mancini took him off for Palacio.
Wojciech Szczesny – From the angle in the crowd I thought he could’ve done better on the goal. He seemed to get down a bit slow but it was still a very good shot from Medel.
Lucas Digne – Roma have done well to fill their hole at left back. Technically sound on the ball and crosses very well.
Miralem Pjanic – Despite his two stupid yellow cards, he’s a world-class talent. He has great touch and vision and plays with his head on a swivel.
Mohamed Salah and Gervinho – They both have great speed and looked dangerous on many occasions but they were both a little too one-footed which made it easier to defend them.
Edin Dzeko – I thought he was a bit lazy on the night. Didn’t get the best service but the striker had some chances just couldn’t convert.
Nicola Rizzoli – Not one of his better-officiated games. Missed a few handballs and was a bit lenient in my opinion.
I owe a huge thank you to Ciro Bianchino and Zio Rino Rotondi for this incredible experience.