Unfortunately I was unable to watch Inter’s first competitive match of the season, but I did follow the game via all the tweets from my fantastic followers on Twitter. From what I read it was a great showing from the Nerazzurri with them looking confident and strong throughout the match. With Stramaccioni playing a 4-3-2-1 formation we seemed able to react quickly and easily to all situations we were faced with by adapting this setup with the minimum disruption to the balance of the squad.
The players that really stood out in the Inter squad were Sneijder, Guarin, Palacio, Milito and of course Inter’s very own superstar south American Coutinho and a mention for our new number 1, Handanovic too as he kept a clean sheet and when called upon he showed safe hands. If last nights performance is anything to go by we are in for a very exciting and entertaining season from Inter this time round.
The Serie A week 33 match against Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi was Inter’s first since the untimely death of Piermario Morosini last weekend and before kickoff both teams stood united in a minute silence to honour his memory.
This was really a must win match for Inter if they were to keep up the pressure on finishing in the last Champions League spot of third, and everything seemed to be in their favour as Fiorentina have had an even more disappointing season than that of Inter, finding themselves sitting on the edge of safety down the bottom of the table. Inter also were handed the advantage that the Viola were without key players like Amauri who was suspended and Stevan Jovetic who is injured, not only that for reasons unknown to me, Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi decided to have Riccardo Montolivo on the bench instead of on the pitch. This combined with the fact they were playing two teenage and fairly unexperienced center backs meant that Inter started the game with a huge advantage over the home side.
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.
Just a week ago Stramaccioni was celebrating the Inter Primavera NexGen Series final win and now this week he’s in charge of the first team that has struggled for the last couple of months under the direction of Claudio Ranieri. Since the announcement by Massimo Moratti on Monday evening that the 36-year-old youth team coach was taking over as caretaker coach a new optimism has engulfed everyone associated with Inter.
With his humble but charismatic character he seems to have won over the changing room and with his background in charge of the Primavera squad there is a great expectation of him being the ideal person to phase out the older players in the squad and replace them with a selection of the most promising talents from both the first team and youth squads.
With AC Milan’s 4-0 win over Arsenal last week and Napoli’s 3-1 win against Chelsea on Tuesday night the flag of Italian football was truly flying high, so it was up to Inter to finish the job against Marseille and make it three out of three for calcio. This though, in reality just added extra pressure for our under fire coach Claudio Ranieri to get the right result, with the rumour mill and the world’s media claiming a loss in France would signal the end of his Inter career.
Despite this immense pressure on his shoulders and with Massimo Moratti, his son Angelomario and his nephew Angelo in the stands behind him watching every move and decision, he started the team with the slightly risky 4-3-1-2 formation. His starting lineup consisted of Julio Cesar in goal. Maicon, Lucio and Walter Samuel as you’d expect in defence with Cristian Chivu surprisingly taking Yuto Nagatomo’s place at left back. There was another surprise in the three-man midfield as alongside the obvious selections of Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, Ranieri started the Serbian veteran Dejan Stankovic?!? No I don’t understand it either considering he had the in form Andrea Poli on the bench. Ahead of these Wesley Sneijder sat in his usual trequartista role behind Mauro Zarate (Yes yet another surprise starter!) and Diego Forlan who was making his Champions league debut for Inter.
Week 23 of the 2011/12 Serie A season saw minnows Novara arrive at the Stadio Guiseppe Meazza sat at the foot of the table with only three points from their last ten matches, conceding a huge 21 goals compared to just five scored in that time, so as you can imagine it was widely regarded that although Inter were going through a tough time in their last three games this match would be a relative walk in the park.
The last time these two teams met was back in September and the heavy defeat suffered by the Nerazzurri then turned out to be Gian Piero Gasperini’s last game in his short Inter career before current coach Claudio Ranieri took over the reins. So how is it possible that once again this struggling team has embarrassed the mighty Inter?
After last weeks fantastic derby win and Thursday’s cup win over Genoa Inter’s confidence was high coming in to this weekend’s game against Lazio who sat just one point ahead of us in fourth place and it was this fact that made this match a must win affair. The Nerazzurri came through and secured the fourth place spot but it was a hard-fought battle with the Biancazzurri and it seemed to me that the pressure of moving up a place in the table and keeping the pressure on the front-runners was affecting the players more than they would have liked.
Inter’s passing, movement and general game play throughout the match was disjointed, sloppy and lacked any real confidence or commitment. Lazio aways looked the most likely to score and their veteran Tommaso Rocchi’s goal came as no real surprise to either side’s fans.
What a weekend for us Interisti and what a game! This season’s first league Derby Della Madonnina was hugely hyped up around the world, more so than usual it seemed, and with both teams being in the best form of the season it was looking to be an epic game. Unfortunately to be honest it wasn’t quite the classic match I had expected and my predicted score of 2-3 to Inter was a fair few goals off the reality but what is important is the fact that Inter won and closed the gap on the top of the table by another 2 points. (Juventus of course gaining only one point this week from being held to a draw at home by Cagliari, *Childish chuckle* ;) )
This fixture of course was the Rossoneri home fixture and they were looking to hold on to their record of not losing at home since 18th December 2010 when Roma defeated them, led by none other than our very own Claudio Ranieri, so it was quite fitting that this record was broken by the same man in his very first Milan Derby. Before the match both the Curva Sud and Curva Nord Ultras gave their usual stunning displays, shown above and below, and the scene was set for the greatest city derby in the world to begin for the 190th time since the 1929/30 season.
I had high expectations about the week 14 match against Udinese this weekend, from experience of watching Inter throughout the years I know as well as anyone that Udinese always make life difficult for us and this clash was going to be no different with the Zebrette up in the title fight while the Nerazzurri as we all know are pushing hard to get themselves involved up top of the table but are suffering from a lack of confidence that has effected our entire league season so far.
In my opinion before the match Claudio Ranieri should have been giving his players a bit of a confidence boost to ensure we went into the match with the right desire to win but instead during his pre match press conference he was full of praise for Udinese instead which was exactly not what the Inter players needed to hear, and I believe that instead of boosting their confidence this will have had more of a damaging effect on the team morale.
First of all I’d like to apologise for my lack of match reports this week but I’ve been ridiculously busy and unfortunately haven’t had the time to dedicate to my posts, don’t worry though I should be back to my usual standard with a full report of Sunday’s match against Siena.
Inter 2-1 Cagliari – Serie A
To keep you updated though I’m going to combine a look at both of this weeks games in this one article starting with Saturday’s Serie A week 12 fixture against Cagliari, I like most Interisti was excited to see the Nerazzurri back in action after over half the month of November without a game due to the postponement of the Genoa match followed by the International break and I tuned in to the match with eager anticipation that this would be a fresh start for Inter only to be greeted by the news that Wesley Sneijder had been withdrawn from the squad due to a muscle injury picked up in the warm up, I presume this is the same one he picked up in Holland’s first game and it has now been revealed that he will be on the sidelines for three to four weeks, this combined with the fact that we were also missing other players including Maicon, Lucio & Forlan didn’t fill me with any great confidence that this game would go any better than other games this season.