Back in late August, Inter dealt Roma an early season blow in a statement 3-1 victory, riding the back of captain Mauro Icardi who buried a brace within 10 minutes midway through the second half.
Coach Luciano Spalletti’s strategy in his first match back at the Stadio Olimpico against his former club turned quite a few heads that evening. But as impressive as the performance was, there weren’t many Giallorossi supporters - both in attendance and watching across the world on television - that were surprised to see how well the Tuscan tactician returned to old stomping grounds and secured all three points.
Spalletti, who served two separate terms on the bench for the Capital club, had picked up right where he left off after leaving Roma last season; administering a similar winning spirit within his new squad and bringing the best out of several key players, including Icardi who has often praised his new Coach for instilling a different mentality.
Though Spalletti has been able to breathe new life and energy into the Milanese giants, much like he did upon returning to the Roma bench after replacing Rudi Garcia in January 2016, things recently haven’t been so pleasant.
In a matter of weeks, the Lombardy outfit have lost control of the top spot in the table, having picked up just three points from their last five league fixtures to fall into their current third place.
Not only that, Spalletti has seen a drop in form from his men on the pitch, which in return, has forced the hand of those at the top to be a bit more proactive this month on the transfer front so that a Champions League berth for next season can be obtained.
All of this is familiar to Roma fans too, who saw their seasons under Spalletti start to build momentum and hope only to be dashed by a rapid plummet once things went wrong.
This weekend, Serie A football returns after a two-week hiatus, and there are few better ways to welcome back calcio than seeing Spalletti’s successor attempt to enter his ground and exact revenge.
Eusebio Di Francesco, who replaced the former Zenit and Empoli Coach this summer, also hit the ground running this season, but like Spalletti, has limped of late, struggling to maintain the steady form required to compete in a tight race for the top four. The two tacticians lock horns Sunday evening inside what promises to be a tension-filled San Siro.
Spalletti is under a bit of pressure to turn things around for his Inter squad, whose legitimacy has come under question during this recent skid. Though they have been derailed, a win this weekend completing the season sweep of Roma could be just what the doctor ordered to get the Nerazzurri back on track – and help Spalletti distance himself from the pack.