SerieA: Inter 2-1 Siena, ‘El Principe’ brace secures victory
After what could only be described as a disappointing draw last Saturday against Cagliari, Inter were back on the pitch just four days later, this time back on home turf of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and with only seven matches left this season everyone from Andrea Stramaccioni to the squad and the fans knew that to stand any chance of performing miracles and securing the targeted third place Champions League spot we had to secure a win.
The Nerazzurri didn’t disappoint, making it two out of three wins for Stramaccioni on the day our captain Javier Zanetti matched Dino Zoff as the third player with the most Serie A appearances with 570 with only former Inter goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca (592) and AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini (647) appearing more times than him, both of which are now retired.
Stramaccioni once again played his 4-3-3 formation and after his suspension Julio Cesar returned to the Inter goal, and despite letting a goal in from Gaetano D’agostino he was solid between the goals every other time Siena tried to get the ball past him. To be fair to Cesar even the D’agostino goal came after two awesome saves in quick succession from chances by ex-Inter man Mattia Destro and Franco Brienza. All in all our Brazilian shot stopper was excellent although it was a fairly quiet game for him as of the eight times Siena managed to have a chance on goal only four were on target and needed dealing with, three of which came in the attack that ended with Siena’s only goal.
Zanetti, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Cristian Chivu made up the defensive line which once again looked the weak link in the Nerazzurri squad. Zanetti as always was flawless in Maicon’s usual right back position, running up and down the wing linking well with Ricky Alvarez, creating chances and always being in the right place to thwart any Siena attack from their left flank. ‘il Capitano’ really is a machine, even at 38 anyone can see why he is known as ‘The Tractor’ his stamina and workrate are just phenomenal and if you didn’t know you would be forgiven for thinking he was at least ten years younger than he is.
Lucio was……….. well Lucio! To be honest from what I saw our Brazilian defender spent more time in midfield and attack than he did in his own position, which of course is what we have come to expect from him especially this season, and even though he did stop a few Siena attacks he worries me by playing so far forward and leaving our shaky (at best) defensive line a man down and vulnerable.
Walter Samuel was without doubt the cause of the chance that lead to Siena’s goal, when he was far to easily dispossessed by the opposition just outside his own area and highlighting Inter’s main problem in defence he was far to slow to keep up and recover the ball. A little later he made up for this error by closing down a Franco Brienza cross but this also signalled the end of his game as moments later he had to leave the pitch with a strain injury. He was replaced with Yuto Nagatomo who took up his usual left back role meaning that Chivu could move in to his prefered centerback position left vacant by Samuel.
Chivu again was solid in defence although I don’t recall seeing much of him throughout the game apart from a few saving interceptions and some solid tackles, so I can’t fault the Romanian really, he was by no means outstanding but he did his job and didn’t make any serious errors. Nagatomo came on in the 23rd minute to replace Samuel and played well, again nothing spectacular defensively which is always a worry with him being a left back and it being the weakest side to his game. When defending he doesn’t seem to communicate with his fellow defenders and in the Siena game like so many others this season he has chased a ball without looking whats happening around him only to end up colliding with one of his team mates. I am a fan of Yuto though and when he’s going forward he is generally good and in this match he was linking well with both Joel Obi and Mauro Zarate on the left flank. It was also Nagatomos tenacity that won Inter the penalty that ultimately won the game, as he refused to let Daniele Maninni take the ball away from him after surging forward to get in to the box.
The midfield consisted of Esteban Cambiasso on the right, Dejan Stankovic in the center and Obi on the left. Cambiasso made a few solid tackles throughout the game and his main role appeared to be to cover Zanetti’s rightback position whenever his fellow Argentinian made forward runs. But he too spent a good proportion of his time in the attacking third too and even managed to find the back of the net from a corner but it wasn’t given due to a foul on the Siena keeper by Diego Milito.
I have to admit I was sorely disappointed to see Stankovic starting once again instead of Fredy Guarin but as fellow Nerazzurri World writer Hussein Marhoon pointed out to me Stramaccioni’s 4-3-3 formation relies on having a deep-lying playmaker in the center of midfield and as Guarin still isn’t 100% match fit ‘Deki’ is the only other player we have in the squad that can play that role, unfortunately! He fulfilled this role by starting off a few attacking moves for Inter but he is by no means the player he used to be and I feel that Guarin would’ve had a much better game than him if he’d been fit enough. Stankovic had a great chance on the 41st minute when Alvarez supplied him with a great pass in the box but the Serbian only managed to send his shot high in to the stands.
On the left flank of the midfield three was our young Nigerian Obi who for me was outstanding in this game and was definitely my man of the match. His dribbling was superb and his linking up with both Zarate and Nagatomo all along the left flank creating a good proportion of Inter’s chances and holding up the ball to allow his teammates to find space and create other options. Obi is another one of our youngsters that has been given a fair bit of stick by our fans though I think he is a good player and deserves his chances within the squad. As someone said to me after the match, with the right mentoring and if he’s given enough chances to grow as a player he could become a good Edgar Davids type player and that can only be a good thing right? (Obviously without the playing for Juve bit )
With just over 20 minutes of the match remaining Obi was substituted off with Andrea Poli taking his place, this change I presume was to bring on fresh legs, as Obi had done a hell of a lot of running, but also I think Stramaccioni was thinking ahead to the Udinese game on Saturday as he’ll want Obi to start. Poli made what I’d consider a quiet appearance against Siena and did his job without really standing out, in my opinion he is a lot like Cambiasso in that way, some games he stands out and makes a fantastic contribution making you feel he’s essential to the squad and then in other matches he quietly does his job and you don’t really even notice that he’s on the pitch. I’m not taking anything away from either player but that’s just how it goes sometimes.
The forward three of Mauro Zarate, Diego Milito and the returning Ricky Alvarez kept the Siena defensive line busy for the entire match by always looking for space and pushing to break in on goal. Zarate was causing trouble for the Siena defence on the left flank every time he had the ball and his link up play with Obi and Nagatomo was excellent throughout, my only criticism is the same one I always have with him that he holds on to the ball too long sometimes looking for glory for himself but even that seemed improved in this match. His defining moment in the Siena game for me was the stunning technique he showed by bringing down a long ball pretty much on the sideline in the 63rd minute before centering it perfectly for Milito to dummy for Cambiasso who unfortunately didn’t see it coming causing the attack to break down. As many have said about Mauro “great skill, shame about the attitude”.
What can I say about the star of the Inter show ‘El Principe’? He has been just awesome since the winter break scoring a fantastic tally of 16 goals making his season’s league total an impressive 20 goals, to put this into perspective for you he only scored 22 goals in what is widely considered his best season ever, 2009/10, and there’s still six games to go in this campaign. I have to hold my hands up and admit I was wrong when earlier in the season I claimed he was washed up and should be sold ASAP, as the reality is without Milito, Inter this season would be fighting a relegation battle for sure by now. His first goal in the Siena game came from a terrible defensive error by Emanuele Pesoli when he miss hit his clearance and gifted Milito the opportunity to score with his head. The second goal was the result of Nagatomo’s well won penalty decision which he put away near the end of the match.
And then of course there was one of my personal favourites of the current Inter squad, Ricky Alvarez, having not played due to a knee injury since the Novara game in February, Alvarez was on the right side of the attacking trident and although I prefer to see him on the left or as a central attacking midfielder, he performed superbly. It wasn’t his greatest showing by any stretch of the imagination but considering his lack of match fitness I was very happy. His link ups with Zanetti especially were fantastic and when he cut inside from the right-wing on his left foot the opposition couldn’t match his skill. I’ve said it before and I stand by it, Alvarez will become a better player than even Wesley Sneijder with the help and guidance from his teammates and a coach that can see his potential. Even in the short time he’s been at Inter he has grown as a player and you can see on the pitch that he has more confidence in his abilities that wasn’t as evident when he first arrived. In the 76th minute Stramaccioni took Ricky off, obviously due to his lack of match fitness and replaced him with Giampaolo Pazzini who it has to be said had no impact on the game what so ever, maybe this was due to a change in formation as I presume Stramaccioni switched to a 4-3-1-2 to accommodate the two central strikers, Milito and Pazzini. Though if he did leave the formation as a 4-3-3, which he may have done I couldn’t tell properly, then it’s no surprise that Pazzini had no impact playing wide as he’s only useful in the box.
The important thing was obviously the win for Inter, though in truth it wasn’t a great win, we had 69% of the possession and 19 shots on Siena’s goal but only managed to get six shots on target which highlights the fact that there is still some work to be done in the squad. But when you compare this to some of the other performances of this season you can see that there has been a vast improvement under the influence of Stramaccioni and with this win we now have 48 points in sixth place on equal points with Napoli and only six points behind Lazio who lost to the unbeaten Juventus. Admittedly I wasn’t happy to see Juventus take another step towards the Scudetto but by the end of the season it could just work in our favour in claiming the targeted third place ahead of Lazio.
Follow me on Twitter: @Don_Nerazzurri
Posted on April 12, 2012, in Serie A and tagged Alvarez, Cambiasso, Cesar, Chivu, Football, Inter, Lucio, Milito, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obi, Pazzini, Poli, Samuel, Serie A, Siena, Stankovic, Stramaccioni, Zanetti, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.