Both Inter and Roma have struggled since the start of 2013, and Sunday's draw only revealed they still need to work out the kinks. Perhaps this was a mere preview of what can be expected in the Coppa Italia semi-final.
It may not have been the goal-fest so many were anticipating, but the match between Roma and Inter still provided plenty of drama. The two sides split the spoils, benefiting no one in their climb up the table, and leading many to wonder if Zemanlandia just might not be worth the hype.
As expected, the home side pressed forward right from the start, determined to put Inter on the back foot. Erik Lamela sent the ball over the top of the nerazzurri defense, but it was out of reach, even with a spectacular dive from Pablo Osvaldo. Next up was Alessandro Florenzi, who did manage to place his ball well. Unfortunately, although the pass seemed destined for Francesco Totti, Lamela chased the ball and Roma lost the opportunity.
The giallorossi continued to pour forth. In the 11th minute, Osvaldo had the ball in the back of the net, but it was ruled out for offside. This would become something of a theme for the Argentine throughout the match.
In the 23rd minute, Daniele Orsato awarded one of the most questionable penalties seen in Serie A this season. As Totti put through the ball to an onrushing Michael Bradley, Andrea Ranocchia put in a perfect sliding tackle. It looked as though Bradley cleared the Inter defender and then ran into his captain, but somehow Orsato judged it worthy of a penalty. Totti, of course, stepped up to the spot, beating excellent shot-stopper Samir Handanovic to score Roma's first -- and only -- goal.
Totti's penalty brought to life a spark in the souls of the nerazzurri. In the 35th minute, a shot from Fredy Guarín went agonizingly wide. Young Marko Livaja, given a chance to start due to the absence of Diego Milito and Antonio Cassano, very nearly made a big impression two minutes later. The Croat turned, chested down the ball, and then sent the half-volley off the post.
Inter grabbed their equalizer just before the whistle blew for halftime.Guarín, having an excellent game, went racing up the right. He then pulled back and placed the ball perfectly to Rodrigo Palacio, who needed just one touch to tap past Mauro Goicoechea.
After the determination shown by both sides in the first half, it seemed inevitable that another goal would come -- or, failing that, a brawl leading to a sending off. But passion and speed both took a knock after the cappuccino break, and although both sides had their chances, the intensity just wasn't as high.
Ivan Piris might be facing the cold shoulder in the Roma locker room after the match, as the right back missed not one but two chances to put his side ahead. In the space of two minutes, Piris misplaced a through ball from Bradley and then put a cross from Federico Balzaretti just a bit too high.
Inter, too, could have grabbed all three points in the end, but Guarín's free kick from distance was off the mark. But Andrea Stramacconi must have been content with a point from the Olimpico, and is likely looking favorably on his side's chances when these two clubs meet in the Coppa on Wednesday.
AS Roma: Mauro Goicoechea; Federico Balzaretti, Leandro Castán, Marquinhos, Ivan Piris; Alessandro Florenzi, (Simone Perrotta 68) Daniele De Rossi (Panagiotis Tachtsidis 45), Michael Bradley; Francesco Totti (Mattia Destro 81), Pablo Osvaldo, Erik Lamela
Inter Milan: Samir Handanovic; Juan Jesus, Cristian Chivu, Andrea Ranocchia; Álvaro Pereira, Walter Gargano (Gaby Mudingayi 84), Javier Zanetti, Yuto Nagatomo (Joel Obi 57); Fredy Guarín; Rodrigo Palacio, Marko Livaja (Tommaso Rocchi 74)
Goals: Francesco Totti P 22 (R); Rodrigo Palacio 45 (I)