Inter, supposedly, were the first true test of Rudi Garcia's Roma, said many journalists/people-in-the-know/doubters. The argument goes that Roma had not played a top team until Saturday, when two of Serie A's most flying starters finally faced off at the San Siro.
A 3-0 win for Serie A leaders Roma should then be a big step towards legitimizing this side, right?
This line of thinking overall is a poor one; to discredit six games, worth eighteen points, and put all of the focus on a single one, worth the same three points every other game is, seems an odd approach. Roma's issues have never been against the top sides in Italy at any rate. Last season, the Giallorossi defeated Fiorentina, Inter, Juventus and Milan at least once in the campaign and yet finished sixth, ten points out of a Champions' League spot. If games against the top teams in the league were tantamount, Milan would never have finished in the top three under Massimiliano Allegri, and yet the last three years have occurred.
Wilson: Inter meet their match in Roma
Inter were by far the toughest team this Roma have faced and the win proves that the side can tango with the top teams in Serie A. Ultimately, however, what Roma needed this season was a mere ounce of consistency against the not-so-elite teams, which the last six games have demonstrated quite well.
For the time being, Garcia's Roma are hurtling along like a freight train. The opening spell at the San Siro suggested that this may finally be the time when the side fails to take maximum points; Walter Mazzarri's men were well on top of possession, as one may expect from a home side as good as they've been. Then the eighteenth minute occurred, Francesco Totti composed himself outside of the box and sent in a perfect shot in the lower right-hand corner of the post, so sneaky and from behind so many defenders that Samir Handanovic may not have even seen the ball until it was too late.
Deserved? Not on the run of play, a familiar theme that Inter would find themselves facing a couple of more times in this game. The side continued to prod and poke at Roma's defence, but by hook and crook, the side held steady. Fredy Guarin unleashed an absolute missile of a shot that bounced off the post not long after Roma scored; had it gone it, the rest of the match would have certainly played out differently. Instead, Morgan De Sanctis found himself much busier than he's been all season, saving everything Inter threw at him.
Instead of being set up to hold possession and press forward, Garcia had his men set up to counter, relying largely on the pace and skill of the reborn Gervinho. This tactic paid off perfectly when Alvaro Pereira tripped the former Arsenal forward just on the line; referee Paolo Tagliavento controversially awarded Roma a penalty, which Totti just sneaked in past the league's best penalty stopper.
Before the half ended, Roma added another goal to their tally after sublime control and dribbling from Totti in Roma's own box launched a counter that Alessandro Florenzi ended with the ball in the net.
Yes, 37-year-old captain Totti was man of the match in one of the most famous venues in Italy against one of the league's best sides so far this season.
Three-nil for the home side would have been more reflective of how Inter dominated; for Roma, the side can take heart in knowing how to score and not to concede even when being outplayed on the pitch.
The rest of the match wasn't without controversy: Federico Balzaretti was sent off for a terrible challenge late in the match. Douglas Maicon may return in time for the Napoli game following the international break but Balzaretti's departure was certainly an issue the club could have done without in a game where nearly the entire team was booked.
Andrea Ranocchia thought he had scored when his head prodded the ball into the net from the hands of De Sanctis in the air but the referee disallowed it, which is either a terrible call and a sign of corruption, an honest mistake by a referee who lost control of the game, or definitely the right decision, depending upon who is asked.
As for Roma? Perfect on paper: seven wins from seven, coming off a huge test and recording their highest ever win in the San Siro. The next match will be tougher yet as Napoli roll into town, but no matter the result then, nothing can take away the truly spectacular work Garcia has done with this side in the opening seven weeks.