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Matchday Revisited: Thumping Coppa Italia final win over Inter

On this day back in 2007, Roma hammered Inter Milan 6-2 in the first leg of the final of the Coppa Italia - effectively clinching the trophy with a blistering display at the Stadio Olimpico.

Our columnist takes a look back at the circumstances surrounding that incredible performance...

The 2006-07 season was a fascinating one for Roma, as they crushed Inter Milan in the two legged Coppa Italia final 7-4 on aggregate - after also finishing second in Serie A.

Much of the intrigue surrounding the Giallorossi that campaign stemmed from coach Luciano Spalletti's unusual tactical setup. Using a 4-2-3-1 as his base formation, the way he opted to play Francesco Totti upfront due to the team's enduring frontline injury crisis proved to be a masterstroke.

With Totti using his brilliant spatial awareness and granted the freedom to link midfield and attack, his quality was key towards Roma's success. Aside from connecting passing moves and being their chief playmaker with 14 assists, he also scored an incredible 32 goals in all competitions.

Crowned as the European Golden Boot winner for his 26 league goals, Roma's legendary magician was a force to be reckoned with throughout the season

Boasting plenty of talent in all areas of the pitch, this team had a solid defence that mostly consisted of Doni in goal, Max Tonetto, Christian Panucci and Marco Cassetti as the fullbacks and the likes of Philippe Mexes, Cristian Chivu and Matteo Ferrari at centre back.

The fact they only conceded 34 league goals, the same as eventual champions Inter, illustrated that the strength of the side was not just in its attack.

The midfield duo of Daniele De Rossi and David Pizarro formed a superb partnership, with De Rossi's energy, intensity, leadership and all-round quality supplementing Pizarro's masterful passing and intelligence wonderfully.

Then, the line of three attackers behind Totti was usually occupied by the likes of Mancini, Rodrigo Taddei, Simone Perrotta, Mirko Vucinic or Christian Wilhelmsson, which featured plenty of interchanges during matches to unsettle defences.

This subsequently meant their formation morphed into such shapes as 4-6-0, 4-2-4, 4-2-1-3 or 4-1-5, making them challenging to combat.

The way Spalletti moulded his team into a tactically flexible and adaptable unit that he tweaked depending on the opposition was another feature, for the Giallorossi had the squad depth and quality to alter their setup shrewdly.

A team that persistently asked questions of their opposition courtesy of their fluid attacking movement and rotations, their offense was so hard to contain - something their 74 league goals evidenced.

Although they ultimately couldn't keep up with Roberto Mancini's Inter in the Serie A race and suffered a disappointing exit to Manchester United in the Champions League quarter-finals, their sensational Coppa Italia triumph offered some reward for an exciting campaign.

Spalletti's men effectively sealed the two-legged final with a breathtaking 6-2 first leg win at the Olimpico. Starting with Doni in goal and a back four of Chivu, Mexes, Ferrari and Panucci, they faced off against the fearsome Inter frontline of Adrian, Hernan Crespo and Luis Figo.

De Rossi and Pizarro were in their customary midfield berths, with Totti, Perrotta, Mancini and Taddei providing the firepower on this occasion.

Against an Inter team that wasn't short on class themselves - including many more big names like Maicon, Ivan Cordoba, Marco Materazzi, Javier Zanetti and Maxwell -the Giallorossi blew away their fancied rivals.

Jumping out of the blocks rapidly, Totti gave Roma a dream start by scoring a belter inside the first minute. This move would very much be a sign of things to come, as Roma channeled this move down their right with the overlapping Panucci delivering a pinpoint ball to Taddei who then found his captain.

Another key element of this passage came from how Roma got numbers into the box who tailored their runs at differing heights and depths.

This tactic caused dilemmas for Inter in regard to who should mark who, which was amplified by how smartly Roma's attackers positioned themselves and used stop gos, zig zags and would hold their runs at the edge of the box as the defence collapsed deep.

Usually getting three to four men into the area, the likes of Totti, Taddei, Perrotta and Mancini served as ideal targets, with this tactic also bearing fruit for Roma's fourth. Although Francesco Toldo's error played a part here, Panucci's cross and Roma's presence in the box were crucial here too.

With the Roma wingers frequently drifting infield, this not only generated space for the fullbacks to maraud into, but also meant the four attackers could combine intricately in and around the box to unlock and manipulate the Inter backline.

How Roma's formidable offensive unit frequently performed smooth rotations increased the Nerazzurri's woes. Altering their markers' reference points and continually placing doubt in their minds, Roma took full advantage of this indecision, as their free flowing football flourished in the first half.

With Totti dropping deep to manufacture midfield overloads to knit together offensive moves, it was notable how a fellow attacker, usually Perrotta, would move in the opposite direction to maintain depth against the Inter backline. In doing so, this stretched the space between the lines for Totti to exploit by pinning the opposition deep, for they didn't want to push out and risk Perrotta surging freely in behind.

So, with Totti moving astutely to connect play centrally and in the half spaces with his creativity and dribbling, Roma were unstoppable early on as they jumped out to a 3-0 lead inside 16 minutes.

With Totti pulling the strings in the attacking half and the forwards playing with dynamism, the way Pizarro dictated proceedings with his elite distribution from deep breathed life into many attacks.

Possessing an immaculate passing range, the deep lying playmaker broke the lines, recycled possession and struck some incisive switches of play. The Chilean's class and precision helped his team massively throughout, with him playing a hand in three of Roma's goals. Striking sublime set pieces for De Rossi and Panucci's goals and switching the play cleanly prior to their third to kickstart a counter, Pizarro's impact was undeniable.

As the second half rolled on, Roma were content to sit back and absorb the Inter pressure and look to strike on the counter, having ripped their adversaries to pieces in the first half.

Producing many searing transitions, how Totti would be the first outlet once possession was recovered and was then joined by Mancini saw them combine to embark on some devastating moves. Creating many chances through this method knowing Inter were chasing the game, this strategy worked a treat.

Although Inter were in control for large parts of this half and looked far more dangerous when Mancini introduced Patrick Vieira and Alvaro Recoba, Roma still managed two goals to put the tie beyond doubt and assert their dominance in front of their rocking home fans.

Running out 6-2 victors in an entertaining clash, their opponents simply couldn't deal with the varied attacking threat created by Spalletti's style.

One of Roma's most eye-catching performances from the last 20 years, it's a joy to reflect back on and enjoy the pulsating team put together in that spell; a side that was definitely one of the most exciting teams in Europe at the time.

The Coppa Italia final performance was a testament to that.

 
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