Can second-placed Roma beat leaders Inter Milan and blow Serie A wide open again?

Roma v Inter Milan, Serie A, March 27, 2010

Roma 2.62; Draw 3.10; Inter Milan 2.62

The battle of the former Chelsea managers takes place in Italy on Saturday night in a game described by Roma boss Claudio Ranieri as the “match of the year.” Jose Mourinho however made no comment on the top of the table clash as he continues his protest against the media.

Histrionics are not really needed from Mourinho coming into this game, not least because The Special One is not a fan of The Tinker Man. Following the 1-1 draw between these two sides at the San Siro in November, the Portuguese coach questioned why “Ranieri is always crying.”

Besides the individual battle on the touchline, the whole of Italy will be tuning in and a capacity crowd is expected at the Olimpico to see if Roma can cut the gap at the top of the table to one point behind the Nerazzurri. Following AC Milan’s defeat at Parma on Wednesday night it seems that only the side from the capital can stop Inter’s procession to another Scudetto.

Roma’s 2-0 win over Bologna on Wednesday night continued their incredible streak in the league. The Giallorossi are undefeated in Serie A for twenty matches and have put together a fine run whilst both Inter and AC Milan have stumbled in recent weeks. (1.39 on either Roma or a draw.)

The big injury news surrounding the fixture for the home side has been whether Francesco Totti would return following a knee injury that has kept him out for a month. Without their talisman Roma have played very well and some see this as a result of Ranieri being unable to “tinker” and his players being allowed a little more freedom without their aging captain.

Montenegrin striker Mirko Vucinic has stepped up to the plate, most notably with his hat-trick against Udinese last week. Whilst the attacking threat throughout the side was illustrated with both John Arne Riise and Julio Baptista on the scoresheet in the victory over Bologna. And Jeremy Menez and Luca Toni are very capable of troubling Lucio, Samuel and co in the Inter defence. (1.89 to be over 2.5 goals, 1.80 to be under.)

Inter Milan though are a tough nut to crack and you can be sure Mourinho will know that a win in Rome will all but secure the title before the Champions League quarter final first leg with CSKA Moscow on Wednesday.

Such has been the praise heaped on Inter following their victory at Chelsea, that many pundits have overlooked their poor recent league form. The win over Livorno on Wednesday was their first in March and they have let their rivals back into what looked to be a one-horse race.

Samuel Eto’o was in scintillating form with a ridiculously good brace, illustrated by the fact that his first was arguably better than his excellently executed overhead kick for the second. The third from Maicon was also a class goal thanks to a beautifully judged through ball from Thiago Motta. Inter also have Wesley Sneijder and Diego Milito returning from injuries for the trip to Rome.

For all their impressive recent form, Roma will have to play out their skins to see off a very strong Inter side. A fascinating encounter awaits.

101gg predicts: Roma 2 – Inter Milan 2 (15.00)

Roma 2.62; Draw 3.10; Inter Milan 2.62