Jose Mourinho And Paulo Dybala Will Relish A Roma Victory At San Siro Against Inter

It’s going to be emotional.

With international football now banished until the beginning of the World Cup on November 12, the focus shifts back to the club game, and the fixtures will come thick and fast over the next six weeks.

The biggest game in Serie A is Inter against Roma; sixth against seventh, and Jose Mourinho returning to the scene of arguably his greatest triumph as a coach: winning the treble with Inter in 2009/10.

Mourinho has returned to San Siro before as Roma coach, in last season’s 3-1 defeat that took place in April. Then, he was welcomed back as a returning hero, the man who gave Interisti their greatest night since the Helenio Herrera days of the 1960s.

No matter what Mourinho achieves in his career or how many different clubs he will manage in the future, he will always be defined by that month in May 2010 when Inter swept all before them.

Unlike last season, however, Roma go into the game against Mourinho’s old side as slight favourites. Inter have had a patchy start to the season, and coach Simone Inzaghi is under real pressure to stop the inconsistency and get Inter back to winning ways.

Inter have already lost three times in Serie A this season, it took them 26 games last season to register the same amount of defeats. They find themselves some five points behind a rampant Napoli in this early stage of the season.

Their last outing saw them outplayed by Udinese, and the slick football that they produced under Inzaghi last season has yet to reappear, despite bringing back Romelu Lukaku last summer and retaining the core of the side that came so close to retaining the Scudetto.

Roma, by contrast, have added the likes of Paulo Dybala, who could have a claim to be one of the best players in the league in the early going. But with all things Dybala, the issue is whether he can stay fit for long periods of time. In Roma’s last game before the international break, against Atalanta, Dybala pulled up in the warm-up and was forced to drop out of the game.

Roma looked clueless without the creative Dybala and lost 1-0.

In saying that, Mourinho’s Roma do look a much better team this year than 12 months ago. Leonardo Spinazzola is slowly working his way back from his serious achilles tendon injury suffered at Euro 2020, and Nicolo Zaniolo has showed greater consistency this season than his up-and-down spells of last season.

The signing of Gini Wijnaldum was quickly hailed by just about everyone in Italy as a masterstroke from club sporting director Tiago Pinto, but that excitement just as quickly turned into tears as Wijnaldum suffered a training ground leg break that’s ruled him out until 2023. That sucked some of the enthusiasm out of Roma’s sails, but the duo of Bryan Cristante and Lorenzo Pellegrini in the middle of the pitch have gelled to form a solid partnership.

Dybala, prior to his injury, had shown the beginning of forming an understanding with Tammy Abraham. Dybala has three goals and two assists in Serie A so far since signing on a free transfer from Juventus and has been reinvigorated in new surroundings.

“The last few years at Juventus weren’t easy, a change did me good,” he told ESPN Argentina recently.“Mourinho called me and in a few minutes I decided. He as well as the director spoke to me about the project and the desire to continue winning as they did last year.

“Being a protagonist in such a team helps me a lot.”

Inter were the team many felt for a long time that Dybala would join after it was known that Juventus were letting him go at the end of his contract. Yet Inter opted for Lukaku, who hasn’t come close to making the same impact again thus far as he did three years ago.

And at San Siro, Dybala could make them pay. And wouldn’t Mourinho love it.