Roma, Inter and the second coming of Christ

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‘A dream and a nightmare’, all in one in night.

A condition usually brought on by consuming too much mozzarella before bedtime but in this case, the screaming headline Italy woke up to in La Gazzetta dello Sport the morning after Inter and AS Roma’s Champions League ties.

Three national sports dailies keep calcio addicts fuelled with news, half-truths, downright lies and a rainforest worth of opinion seven days a week.

Each conveys it’s own spin, depending on which of the Serie A power bases it represents.

The aforementioned Gazzetta - the pink one - is the most widely read and centres on the two Milanese giants, Corriere dello Sport trumpets Rome while not even the second coming of Christ would deter Tuttosport from splashing a headline on Juventus unless the saviour turned out to be Alex Del Piero.

A photograph of the gormless Marco Materazzi, open-mouthed in shock at being sent-off at Anfield summed up the Gazzetta’s take on the Nerazzurri’s 2-0 defeat to Liverpool.

“Oh my God,” was the lament in print.

Their editorial called on the spirit of ’65 when Inter had come back from a 3-1 deficit against the Reds to win the return 3-0 at the San Siro.

However, only a train ride through the length and breadth Europe would offer enough time to actually finish reading the piece.

Better still to jump straight to where the journos can get stuck into the players and referee: the match ratings.

Mr De Bleeckere was on a hiding to nothing of course, and was awarded the equivalent of nul points, a four out of ten.

Materazzi was awarded five but was given the status of a victim, with the paper claiming he would always ‘pay for Berlin’ – reference of course to the Zinedine Zidane head-butting incident in the 2006 World Cup final.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Patrick Vieira received a derisory 4.5 and 4, respectively, for skipping class all together.

While the north woke up to the grey mists of defeat, it was all brightness and sunshine down in the Capital after Roma’s 2-1 win over the mighty Real Madrid.

‘A Real Hit’, hailed the Corriere dello Sport. ‘A magical night leaves the Olympic [stadium] in delirium’, it continued.

However, there was still a note of caution, with plenty of space given over to coach Luciano Spalletti’s assessment that his team would need ‘another night like this in Madrid’ to progress.

Of course, Tuttosport had no time for such insignificant matters such as the Champions League.

Not when their campaign to have Del Piero named in the Italy squad for the European championships was in full swing.

“Alex Euro Vote”, was the banner headline although the Materazzi photo was reproduced on the front page just to rub Inter’s noses in it.

In fact, you had to dig deep into page nine to find the Inter report while Roma’s success couldn’t even oust the Olympiakos – Chelsea bore draw for a higher billing.

Such are the ways of the Italian sporting press.