Roma has made it a habit - coming in second in Italy - though last year felt different.
The Giallorossi were leading the league late in the season. Then, they stumbled against Sampdoria. Internazionale would claim the title and, for good measure, beat Roma for the Coppa Italia on their way to a treble. Along the way, the frustrations of Roma's near miss brought this match-up to full rivalry status. When Francesco Totti chopped down Mario Balotelli at the end of the Coppa Italia final, we had the makings of a full-fledged derby.
Because Roma is off to a such a tough start in lead, it's difficult to see their welcoming Inter Milan to the Stadio Olimpico as the weekend's best match. You, however, may disagree, and you'll get your chance to vote and comment, below.
First, nine other matches that help define a full weekend of soccer in Europe.
All times Eastern.
#10. Malmö FF versus IFK Göteborg, Swedish Allsvenskan, Sunday, 10:30 a.m.
The two most successful clubs in Swedish football history meet, Malmö coming-off a surprise loss Monday at Djugarden. Coupled with Helsingborg's win over Mjällby, Malmö's back in a tie for first with six matches to go.
Malmö had the better of Göteborg earlier this year, winning 2-0 at the Gamla Ullevi. That loss was part to a season's start that saw Göteborg win only two of their first 13 matches. Since, Göteborg's won six of ten but remains out of the race for their league-record 19th title. Malmö, on the other hand, is looking to take another step toward their 16th, their first since 2003.
#9. Otelul Galati vs. Steaua Bucuresti, Romanian Liga, Sunday, 9:30 a.m.
Otelul surprisingly, find themselves in first place, having routed league power Unirea Urziceni 4-1 last week ,despite playing most of the match down a man. Gabriel Giurgiu and Argentine Gabriel Viglianti each had braces to lift Otelul to the top of the table. This week, they get another league power, with Steaua going to Galati days after coach Ilie Dumitrescu stepped-down. Steaua is third in league, only one point back of Otelul, but were four matches winless when Dumitrecu resigned. The team responded to assistant Eduard Iordanescu with a 1-0, mid-week victory over Gaz Metan in cup competition.
#8. Midtjylland vs. København, Danish Superliga, Saturday, 9:00 a.m.
The top two in Denmark, with four points separating Midtjylland from third place Brøndby, nine matches into the season. That's the same gap that separates København from Midtylland, with the Lions the only team in the league yet to lose a match. In fact, every team in Denmark has lost twice, while København is 7-2-0. Combined with cup and Champions League play, København's only lost once all season - a 2-1 loss at Norweigan champions Rosenborg.They came back to beat Rosenburg in the second leg of that tie and move into the Champions League-proper.
#7. Toulouse vs. Lille, French Ligue 1, Sunday, 11:00 a.m.
Toulouse and Saint-Étienne sit on 13 points, surprise leaders in a topsy-turvy French league. Lille, however, is one of three undefeated sides, and with the likes of Gervinho, Eden Hazard, Moussa Sow and Pierre Alan Frau, LOSC could be best situationed to emerge from Ligue 1's early chaos, should their defending remain strong. Through six matches, they've allowed only three goals and have yet to give-up multiple goals in a match. Toulouse has the same defensive record, but after a three match winning streak vaulted them to the top of the league, TFC has only one point from their last two games. They'll be looking to Sunday's match for a rebound.
#6. FC Zürich versus Basel, Swiss Super League, Saturday, 11:45 a.m.
The last two Swiss champions, Zürich welcomes Basel to the capital amidst a small slump for the holders. Basel has drawn their last two in league, and while they were against strong sides (Grasshopper and Young Buys), they also lost in Champions League to CFR Cluj. The results see them at the bottom of their UCL group and now chasing Luzern in league.
Zürich, on the other hand, has won two in a row, climbing into third place, though if they're unable to slow Alexander Frei - who has eight goals in nine matches - Basel could see themselves on-tracked.
#5. Athletic Bilbao versus Barcelona, Spanish Primera Division, Saturday, 4:00 p.m.
A Lionel Messi-less Barcelona go to the San Mamés, a place they were drawn last year, 1-1. How Barça will cope without Messi was unanswered mid-week, when a half-strength Spoting Gijón failed to provide an adequate test at the Nou Camp, losing 1-0 on a David Villa goal. With the likes of Villa, Xavi, Iniesta - the list you've become accustomed to - you wouldn't expect Barcelona's attack to be a problem. Still, after only one goal at home against Gijón, we'll have to wait-and-see.
#4. Twente versus Ajax, Dutch Eredivisie, Saturday, 2:45 p.m.
Last year's champions hosting this year's leaders also features the two teams who last fought for the title. Then, Twente proved to be the only team in the league capable of slowing an Ajax attack that would go on to score 102 goals in 34 matches (34 more than the next most-prolific team). Twente held Ajax to three goals in two games, and the last two times the teams have meet in Enschede, Twente's posted 1-0 wins. Ajax currently lead the league, having tracked-down and passed PSV, but if they loses again in Enschede, this season will start to bear an strange resemblance to last's: fast start by Ajax, pulled-back by Twente, who hold-on.
#3. Bayern Munich versus Mainz, German Bundesliga, Saturday, 6:30 a.m.
Mainz may be the biggest surprise in Europe. At a minimum, they're the biggest surprise amongst Europe's Big Five leagues, sitting perfect atop the Bundesliga table after five matches, with notable wins at Wolfsburg and Werder. A prolific attack led by 19-year-old Andre Schurrle (three in four) has scored 12 goals in five games, while the loan acquisition of Lewis Holtby from Schalke has provided some punch in midfield.
On Saturday they go to the Allianz to face a relatively punch-less Bayern Munich, who have only scored four goals in five matches. They've only allowed four, too, the reason why they carry a decent 2-2-1 recording into the match, but whereas the club's legacies would hint this is where Mainz's wonder-start would end, a Munich team missing both Arjen Robben and Franck Ribery may fall the way of Wolfsburg and Werder.
#2. Roma vs. Internazionale, Italian Serie A, Saturday, 2:45 p.m.
While most thought Inter Milan would pick-up where they left-off last season, there were doubters (myself included). But Rafa Bentiez has yet to lose in the Serie A, and after the Nerazzurri's 4-0 win over Bari next week, the perpetually defending champoins are back atop the table. Roma, on the other hand, has stumbled. The Giallorossi sit nineteenth, having allowed as many goals (nine) as any club in the league as they watch Francesco Totti age before their eyes. Despite the club's disparity in the table, there should be a derby-like atmosphere at the Stadio Olimpico between two teams whose recent battles leave no love lost.
#1. Manchester City versus Chelsea, English Premier League, Sunday, 7:00 a.m.
For a full breakdown of this match, you can read the English Premier League preview, a large portion of which is devoted to Chelsea's first test of the season.