Roma v Inter, preview: Fake it til you make it

Maurizio Lagana

Both sides featured in Sunday's late match are pressing for European competition -- but both Roma and Inter have looked like they've lost the plot in recent weeks. Who's more likely to convince at the Olimpico?

What happens when two sides having concurrent meltdowns meet in Serie A? We'll find out Sunday evening, when Roma host Inter. Both sides started 2013 with dramatic losses: Inter 3-0 to Udinese, Roma 4-1 to Napoli. Both have slightly redeemed themselves. Roma went on to lose to Catania, but then beat Fiorentina in the Coppa, albeit unconvincingly. Inter managed a respectable win over Pescara, although they looked shaky at times, and then needed extra time to beat Bologna in the Coppa. You wouldn't really think these sides were in the top six, would you?

But they are. Roma have slid down to sixth, three points behind Fiorentina and a full ten out of the Champions League positions. Back in November, it looked as though Zdenek Zeman had finally taken the team in hand, throwing out his free-flowing, attack minded sides. It seems the vacation in Florida did nothing to help the giallorossi, however, as they've scored just twice since play resumed. It was super-sub Pablo Osvaldo that scored against Napoli, but he's been out of action since. Mattia Destro was the Coppa hero, scoring in added extra time.

Inter, once again, are burdened by the weight of their injuries. Top goal scorer Diego Milito is out, as is Antonio Cassano, who's racked up five thus far this season. It's enough to make nerazzurri supporters grateful they snapped up over-the-hill Tommaso Rocchi, as he's likely to start alongside Rodrigo Palacio. Fortunately, Palacio was excellent in the win over Pescara, scoring the first goal and setting up Fredy Guarín for the second.

These two sides meet again midweek in the Coppa. Will they save their theatrics for that match, or will we be fortunate enough to see a two-act drama on the Roman stage?

AS Roma Injuries and Suspensions

Pablo Osvaldo, Simone Romagnoli and Maarten Stekelenburg (injured); Stefano Guberti (suspended)

Yeah, Stek is "injured", alright. Is there some new strain of Czeck bird flu going around?

Inter Milan Injuries and Suspensions

Ricardo Alvarez, Antonio Cassano, Luca Castellazzi, Philippe Coutinho, Diego Milito, Yuto Nagatomo, Walter Samuel and Dejan Stankovic

Goodness gracious, what's Andrea Stramaccioni to do? Pray, I'd guess.

Match Date / Time: Sunday, January 20 at 8:45 p.m. local / 2:45 p.m. ET

Venue: Stadio Olimpico, Rome

TV: Sky Calcio 1, ESPN UK, RAI Internazionale (US viewers: eventually you can catch a repeat on BeIN Sport, but Atlético and Real Madrid take precedence, of course)

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