Monthly Archives: April 2011

Inter back in 2nd with a 2-1 win over Lazio


Happy Easter to all Interista, and to make the weekend more special Inter managed to claim all three points from Lazio even though we were down to 10 men with goals coming from Sneijder’s 4th of the season and Eto’os 33rd. The downside is after Julio Cesar’s red card it means we are without our first choice keeper for the next game on the bright side its against Cesena. The other piece of bad news is that Stankovic had to go off with an injury. Milan beat Brescia with a late goal to put them back to 8 points ahead though with Palermo beating Napoli we have gone above them to reclaim 2nd place, which if we end up finish there I will be happy considering the bad season we’ve had.

Match Report

It was end-to-end play in the first half at the Stadio Meazza, with Lazio taking the lead in the 24th minute when Zarate scored from the spot, after being pulled down in the area by Julio Cesar, who was subsequently sent off to leave Inter with ten men. Milito paid the price and was taken off to make way for Castellazzi. They may have been inferior in number, but by no means in spirit and the Nerazzurri equaliser came eventually. On 40 minutes Sneijder made it 1-1 with a perfect free-kick which was out of Muslera’s reach. Then it took a classic super-Eto’o run to leave Dias and Biava for dead before dribbling around Muslera to put Inter 2-1 up in the 8th minute of the second half. Mauri received his marching orders in the 22nd minute of the second half bringing the teams back to ten men apiece.

First half –


To take on Lazio, Inter had Eto’o back in the line-up and Leonardo positioned him alongside Milito, playing in front of Sneijder who liaised between the attack and midfield, while Pazzini started on the bench. For the Biancocelesti, Zarate and Floccari made up the attack. The fans, who are twinned, dedicated the pre-match choreography to the memory of Gabriele Sandri.


Zarate was the first to try out his boots with a long-distance right-footed shot which Julio Cesar punched away two-fisted, before Nagatomo made the final clearance in the 5th minute. From the same position at the other end, one minute later, Eto’o responded with a curling shot off his right instep but it flew wide of the mark. Then the Cameroonian was speeding towards goal once again, only to be intercepted by Floccari who pulled him down at the edge of the area. Morganti decided it wasn’t a foul and Lazio started off again. Zarate showed he could be dangerous in the penalty box on 15 minutes as jinked his way past Maicon and then Lucio, leaving Ranocchia’s timely intervention to save the day. Eto’o passed to Stankovic who was looking for his first goal against his old side and his shot, from well out, sped over the bar after 19 minutes.


After only 22 minutes’ play, Inter were down to ten men when Julio Cesar was sent off. The Brazilian keeper came off his line to take on Zarate who was looking like scoring and seemed to have made contact. Morganti was in no doubt and pointed to the spot, from which Zarate duly scored, 0-1. Milito too, paid the price when he was taken off to allow Castellazzi to take over in goal. Inter were in no mood for giving up though, and it was up to Sneijder to find the equaliser. He tried with a free-kick which Ranocchia almost got to, forcing Dias to concede a corner on 26 minutes and with a low, hard, right-footed effort which Muslera needed all his skill to save on 28 minutes.


He finally managed to break through after 40 minutes. Bresciano had fouled Eto’o just outside the area and the Dutchman stepped up to curl the ball over the wall, into the top left-hand corner of the net, out of the Biancoceleste keeper’s reach and brought the teams level at 1-1.
Morganti signalled two minutes of added time, but Lichtsteiner had time enough to find Floccari with an inch-perfect cross and it was only Nagatomo’s timely interception that prevented it from reaching the net. In the clash Castellazzi took a nasty knock on the right leg.

Second half –


The second half got underway without any changes being made to the teams, however after 7 minutes Stankovic pulled up with muscle problems and had to be taken off with Mariga coming on in his place. It was beginning to look like yet another unlucky day for the Nerazzurri, but then Eto’o popped up to change the face of the game.


He picked up a through ball from Zanetti perfectly and capitalised on Biava’s slip to dribble past Dias. He took the ball wide of Muslera and slotted it home with his left instep to put Inter into the lead at 2-1. In the 13th minute Lucio missed Lichtsteiner’s cross and Floccari was unmarked in front of goal, but the ball ended up in the side-netting. Leonardo asked Sneijder who wasn’t fully fit to make the sacrifice, but it was Eto’o who gave the ball away in midfield and the equaliser was looking very much on from Zarate’s volley, but he didn’t managed to put it away with only Castellazzi to beat. In the 21st minute Nagatomo fouled Mauri who reacted and kicked out at the Japanese defender, sending him reeling. He was shown the red card and that evened the numbers at ten men apiece. On the half hour mark, Lazio came close to equalising once again. Brocchi crossed and Zarate chested down only for Kozak to smash his shot against the bar.


Inter came back though and Zanetti laid off a perfect ball for Maicon who was only denied by Muslera’s superb save. Morganti indicated that there were five minutes of added time to play, but Inter kept their wits about them as they tried to make it three. This wasn’t to be but they did pick up the three points to take them onto 66 and back up to second place behind AC Milan.
Inter 2-1 Lazio (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: 24 Zarate (pen), 40 Sneijder, 53 Eto’o.
Referee: Emidio Morganti (Ascoli Piceno).
Booked: Garrido 38, Leonardo 42, Zarate 50, Mariga 62.
Sent off: Julio Cesar 22, Mauri 66.
Added time: 2 + 5 minutes.

Lineups

Inter:


1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic (17 Mariga 52); 10 Sneijder (20 Obi 78); 22 Milito (12 Castellazzi 23), 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 7 Pazzini, 23 Materazzi, 26 Chivu, 27 Pandev.
Coach: Leonardo.

Lazio:
86 Muslera; 2 Lichtsteiner, 3 Dias, 20 Biava, 14 Garrido (9 Rocchi 81); 23 Bresciano (32 Brocchi 71), 24 Ledesma; 6 Mauri; 8 Hernanes; 10 Zarate, 22 Floccari (18 Kozak 70).
Unused subs: 12 Berni, 5 Scaloni, 15 Gonzalez, 81 Del Nero.
Coach: Edoardo Reja.

Reactions

Leonardo


Leonardo was unsurprisingly extremely satisfied after Inter’s 2-1 win against Lazio: “It was a special win today: down to ten men, a penalty and a goal behind, so to win in this way was an immense achievement. It was game won by everybody giving everything. Now we need to keep stringing these results together; that’s all that counts. Just look at how some of the other games have gone today.”

The Nerazzurri coach was asked about the future of this Inter team: “Now is not the time to be thinking about the future. It’s been a strange season, the team’s rhythm has been broken up by lots of injuries and also by the change of coach, but the team’s heart has always been there. This side is built on firm foundations and those will remain, but of course you can always improve. However, as I said, we mustn’t be thinking about the future now: we have the run-in to concentrate on. My own future? My relationship with Inter has never changed; it’s just the same. So I’m not worried about that. All I’m thinking about is the end of this season and concentrating on our achieving our goals. I have an agreement with the club and I’m working to reach the team’s targets. Really, nothing has changed since 6 January. I’m just going forward and working for the good of Inter. I’m not going to put my own situation before that of the club or the team. I have an agreement and I’m very happy here. Everything is clear and we have a great relationship, and I hope that will always remain, with the same enthusiasm as there was at the start. I want to win, I’m spurred on by enthusiasm, I’m getting to know the squad better and better and so I’ll go on like this.”

Finally, Leonardo was asked if he still hoped Inter could win the Scudetto. “Honestly, yes…” the coach rounded off with a grin.

Javier Zanetti


Fresh off the pitch, Javier Zanetti commented on Inter’s hard-fought win over Lazio, speaking to Sky Sport Italia: “This win was down to the whole team, a match we won with character. This is a team that never gives up and everyone could see that. We beat a tough Lazio side and after everything that happened. We’re really pleased.”

Esteban Cambiasso


Esteban Cambiasso commented on the win over Lazio: “There was a point when everything seemed stacked against us but we didn’t lose our heads. We stayed calm and did everything we could to get back in the game. And we managed it. This group is compact and you can see that. We’re able to come up with lots of different solutions, as we proved again today. That’s a great resource.”

Luca Castellazzi


“That was a fantastic game; it was incredible to come back like that,” declared Luca Castellazzi. “Despite the pain in my thigh,” he continued, “I’m really very happy. We found the strength we needed and we showed great belief to respond in that way. We needed that result against a direct rival. The greatness of a group can also be seen in times of difficulty, and we are a great group. A group with immense qualities.”

Massimo Moratti


“It wasn’t easy going behind with a man down but the team responded superbly. I thought the players were a bit tired but they made up for their understandable fatigue with their character. The team were always in the game physically and that’s something that will be important over the remaining games.” Speaking to Inter Channel, president Massimo Moratti commented on how his Inter team performed as they came back to win against Lazio after Zarate had put the visitors in front from the spot. “It was a demonstration of our strength on many levels: we saw a team that played their football intelligently without panicking, because at no point did they lose their heads or were they out of the game. That’s a big plus in a team of champions like this. There are reasons why this side has won everything over the last five years, and that is one of them.”

Thanks to the results in the other games played so far in Serie A Week 34, Inter’s league position already looks better, sitting as they now are in second place. “If we hadn’t had that terrible week we’d be in a different situation now – which just goes to show that defeats in this period can prove crucial even for sides that haven’t been struggling for the previous five or six months. This is a tough league. As things stand we’re second, unfortunately some way behind AC Milan, but we’ll try to defend our position and see how it ends up.”


The president was asked to rate Yuto Nagatomo, a player who combines physical strength with tactical awareness and a great sense of humour: ” He’s a smart lad because he’s learning things every day and putting into practice really well what he’s being taught in a new team. He also knows how to create space and defend well: usually when you have a pacy full-back everyone assumes they are good going forward but not much cop defensively, yet he is a fantastic full-back; he intercepts balls played into the box for the opposition’s forwards. He has lots of qualities and he has opened the door to Eastern football for us, which is brimming with talent.”

What does president Moratti expect from his Inter team at the end of this season? “I wasn’t demanding too much from them all because I think they have given and continue to give a lot. However, I do expect – and I hope we don’t have to sweat too much – to qualify for the Champions League.”

Conclusion
Inter played exceptionally well and didn’t lose their heads when Julio Cesar was sent off and for a change I get my pre match prediction right! So with 4 games to go we’ve got ourselves back in 2nd which realistically is the best we can hope for this season but you never know the 8 points Milan have over us is still achievable with a lot of luck. Either way everyone at Inter and all us Interista can hold our heads high.

Inter v Lazio Match Preview

Inter go into today’s game against Lazio 8 points behind Milan with 5 games including this one to go and the odds are severely stacked against us for the Scudetto but we are not giving up without a fight and anything is possible as Lazio themselves proved years ago when they made up 9 points in the last 5 games to take the title.  For us to stand a chance though we must win every game to come and hope Milan make a mess of their run in! Even if we don’t catch Milan we have still got a fight on our hands as we could finish anywhere from 2nd down to 4th or 5th if we’re not careful and a win for Lazio today would put them on the same points as us so this definitely is a must win for us as an in form Udinese are only 4 points behind going in to this weekend.

Squad Selection
Leonardo has named 21 players in his match-day squad for today’s game against Lazio, the Nerazzurri’s Serie A 2010/11 Week 34 fixture to be played at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan’s San Siro district (15:00 kick-off).

Goalkeepers:
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;

Defenders:
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;

Midfielders:
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;

Forwards:
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.

It’s good to see Eto’o back in the squad and let’s hope that the Inter strike force can break the barren spell that they’re suffering against Lazio today

Leonardo’s Press Conference

“Lazio remain Lazio: player by player, they’re a great team, really competitive. It wasn’t easy for them to push on after last season but they’ve managed to. They have done really well and they are in good form.” That was what Leonardo had to say about Inter’s opponents today, in the Serie A 2010/11 Week 34 fixture that will be played at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan’s San Siro district (15:00 kick-off).
A journalist then asked the coach to speak about the club’s targets for the rest of the season: “In the league, it’s difficult to think that we can make up 8 points in 5 games, but we’ll try to win all our matches anyway. We’ll try to maintain consistency in our performances and in our results so that we can do as well as we can. Then there’s the Coppa Italia. What about the risk of finishing fourth? At the moment we’re third and our only target is to win all our games. We’re only thinking about that.”
So that’s the Nerazzurri’s target, which will have to be achieved despite the tiredness of the players. “It’s normal to be tired in this period, it’s the same for everyone, but it needs to be analysed well. We didn’t look tired against Roma, did we? That means the team is capable of digging deep and that’s what we’ll try to do from here until the end. It wasn’t easy in the cup down in Rome but the team did really well. In football there are defeats that aren’t decisive and others that are – and unfortunately we’ve had a few of those. But the players have shown many times that they know how to respond to them, just as they have this time.”
The Nerazzurri coach is then asked about Giampaolo Pazzini’s barren streak: “A striker is dependent on the way the team moves and plays, so his form is always a result of many things. There’s no problem with Pazzini.”

It’s not just Pazzini that’s having problems scoring as even Eto’o hasn’t found the net in quite a few games but i have complete faith in our team and I’m sure that if the wing backs and midfielders can get the balls into the box then Eto’o, Pazzini or Milito will have no trouble burying them in the net.


Inevitably the transfer market was brought up, with another question about Ganso, Santos’ exciting young talent: “So much has been written about that but we have never made a move for him. I have been in personal contact with him for a long time, that’s all. The time for talking about transfers is not now and no attempt has been made. At the moment there is no offer, no plan, no specific idea.”
So what will the Inter of the future look like? Who will be coming and going ahead of next season? That was another question put to Leonardo. “This team was doing fantastically well until three weeks ago. I don’t think we really need to be worrying about the future and what Inter will become, at least not now. At the moment nobody is thinking about who is going to be leaving.”
Quizzed on his own future, the coach replied: “I’m not the sort of person who thinks about these things. I can’t be worrying about what will be in the future because I’m focused on what I have to do now, starting with Lazio.”

My Prediction
Lazio are a team that are playing very well this season compared to the last campaign so they will obviously be going all out for the win to put them on level points with us in 3rd, so Inter need to play intelligently and take advantage of all opportunities that come our way, which we should be able to do, so I’m going to go for a 2-1 win for Inter this afternoon which if Palermo play like they did against Milan in this afternoons game against Napoli should see us regain 2nd place.

Latest Inter Transfer Rumours, Leonardo To Stay & Mourinho says ‘His Team’ Needs Rebuilding

With the end of what i like to think of as Inter’s hangover season in sight (Thank God!!!) the rumours of changes of management and players are coming thick and fast for our beloved Nerazzurri, with most of the footballing world agreeing that Inter needs some big changes to stay up there with the likes of Barcelona.  Of course a lot can change before the start of next season but there are some rumours that just don’t seem to go away so i thought i’d share the latest versions of these stories with you all and start the excitement for next season early!

First of all we’ll deal with the management and contrary to what everyone seems to want it looks like Leonardo might still be at the helm next season as yesterday Inter’s CEO CEO Ernesto Paolillo has revealed that head coach Leonardo has no reason to be worried about his job as the Serie A champions have no intention of parting company with the Brazilian tactician.
He told Bloomberg: “The future of Leonardo is with Inter. He’s a great coach, he’s working very well, we are really satisfied.

“Just because of two games we lost we are reading a lot of crazy things in the newspapers but they are coming from outside, not from the club. We have no problems at all and we are convinced he’s working very well.”

Paolillo then went on to say that Inter won’t start making provisions for 2011-12 until this term comes to an end.

He said: “Planning for next season hasn’t begun yet. We have to examine the situation just after the end of the season, not now.”

He obviously hasn’t been watching very closly recently because anyone can see Leo isn’t up to the job, that said though he’s just trying to smooth everything over until the end of the season because we know that Inter are thinking about changes as Moratti himself has admitted to talks about signing Carlos Tevez so hopefully this statement is just to make Leo feel safe before he gets the boot at the end of the current season, fingers crossed!!!

As i’ve said most of the footballing world agree that Inter needs changes and this was given more weight by a quote from our hero Jose Mourinho the other day when he told press that ‘His Inter must rebuild for next season’ it is great to see that the manager most Interista hold close to their hearts still feels close to the team he led to glory last season. he went on to say…
“I tell Inter that this season isn’t a disaster if they don’t win any silverware,” he told Mediaset.
“They must rebuild for the next campaign and get back to winning ways, because it remains my Inter.

“President Massimo Moratti and his collaborators are very smart and Leonardo is a coach who can go far.

“What counts now is securing second place in Serie A and winning the Coppa Italia.”

So it looks fairly clear that even with his affection for us he won’t be returning any time soon and he to thinks Leonardo will be staying!

Anyway on to the players and the one transfer that seemed to be in the bag is being interupted by our rivals Juventus who have admitted they are interested in Tevez and also Neymar but they have also said that they may not have the finances to sign either player, lets hope not!
An article on Bleacherreport.com says –
European champions Inter are understood to be the leading candidates to sign Tévez due to their wealth and recent pedigree as the dominant force in Serie A.
But Juventus general manager, Giuseppe Beppe Marotta, has confirmed that Juve are keen to take Tévez to Turin, as well as the Brazilian forward Neymar, if the club can fund a move for either player.
Marotta said: “Tévez and Neymar are two excellent players, very strong, and you would like to have either of them, but beyond that point is an economic reality which must be faced.
“Acquiring players in that category is not an easy operation to achieve. In addition, in the case of Neymar, we know we would have to compete with Chelsea.”

Another big named linked with Inter is Tottenhams Luca Modric

Inter Milan will go for Luka Modric this summer if Tottenham miss out on the Champions League.
The Italian giants are looking to rebuild this summer and see Croatian star Modric as one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Inter believe they will have a realistic chance of persuading Spurs to sell, should they miss out on the top four.
The Italians, also known admirers of Spurs’ Gareth Bale, will test their determination to hold on to Modric, who has been a star of the club’s European campaign this season.
Modric has already insisted he is not thinking of leaving the north Londoners, but Inter believe they may be able to lure him away if they cannot offer him Champions League football next season.
However, White Hart Lane boss Harry Redknapp has insisted none of his top players will be sold and instead wants to strengthen his squad.
This one will depend heavily on where Tottenham finish in the Premiership and if they get a Champions league place, but this is another highly likely signing for the summer
And our last story is about Roma’s Mirko Vucinic who is reportedly unhappy at the Italian capital club and he is being dubbed as a perfect replacement for Diego Milito who could be leaving the Nerazzurri in the summer.

Vucinic joined Roma from Lecce in the summer of 2006 and has since made well over 100 appearances for the capital club. However, he is reportedly unhappy with his current situation and could therefore be on the move at the end of the season.

Inter are believed to be willing to pay up to €15 million (£13.3m) for his services, but face stiff competition from clubs such as Tottenham and Blackburn Rovers in the race for Vucinic’s signature.

Vucinic is a good player but if we do sign Tevez i can’t see him getting much more playing time than he has at Roma as Eto’o & Tevez would be obvious first choice strikers, so i wouldn’t be disappointed if this one doesn’t happen.  As i’ve said though a lot can happen between now and the start of next season so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens though i’ve got a feeling there’s going to be some really good signings for Inter this year!

Coppa Italia 1st Leg Roma 0-1 Inter Match Report & Reactions

Inter finally got the result they needed after 5 losses in a row, which puts them in a strong position to progress to the final after the second leg at the Guiseppe Meazza on the 11th May. Dejan Stankovic was the man to get the goal for the Nerazzurri with another superb long range effort from outside the box on the stroke of half time, this was in fact his 2nd goal of the game after his first got ruled out by a questionable refereeing decisions in the opening minutes. Both sides had their chances in the second half but the scoreline of 0-1 stayed the same. Inter looked by far the stronger side throughout the game but even saying that they were still no where near the level we know they are capable of, this win should however give them the confidence to finish the season on a good note, hopefully!!! My one criticism of the match was the fact that Leonardo paired Milito up front with Pandev instead of Pazzini the subbed Milito for Pazzini which is a shame as i was looking forward to seeing how Milito & Pazzini would play together but to be fair Pandev had a good game, he didn’t score or have any particularly good shots on the goal but he did work hard bringing the ball into attack.

Match Report
FIRST HALF


Leonardo went with Lucio and Ranocchia at the heart of the Nerazzurri defence, flanked by Maicon and Nagatomo; there was experience aplenty in midfield with Zanetti, Cambiasso and Stankovic, while Sneijder began in the hole behind strike pairing Milito and Pandev.

Inter immediately asserted themselves on the game and had most of the possession in the opening stages. Two minutes in, Sneijder tried his luck from range and got his effort on target but failed to really test Doni with it. Just a few moments later Inter should have been a goal up: Cambiasso’s long ball forward induced Doni and Juan to make a mess of things allowing Stankovic to fire home unmarked, but the Serbian was harshly adjudged to have fouled Juan. However, it was Inter’s turn to get lucky in the 9th minute when Vucinic managed to stab wide with the goal at his mercy, after Borriello’s cross had gone beyond Julio Cesar at the near post. The Montenegro striker had another chance after a quarter of an hour but was again imprecise.


The Nerazzurri felt they had been hard done by once more in the 17th minute, when De Rossi’s handball in the box went unseen by the referee. Lucio then had a header saved by Doni after 21 minutes before the Brazilian centre-back returned to doing his day job down the other end five minutes later, denying Perrotta with a fantastic acrobatic interception following Cassetti’s cross. And he showed his worth again around the half hour mark with another timely tackle at full stretch to take the ball away from Borriello, a minute after De Rossi had fired an effort over.


Sneijder had another sight on goal in the 43rd minute but was unable to hit the target. Stankovic, however, definitely had his shooting boots on this evening and gave Inter the lead with an absoluter stonker of a goal: as the game ran into first-half stoppage time, the Serbian picked up Cambiasso’s pass 25 yards out and struck a thunderous right-footed effort with the outside of his boot that curled into the top corner leaving Doni with no chance. After a minute’s added time, the sides headed into the dressing rooms with the Nerazzurri a goal to the good.

SECOND HALF


The second half began with the same twenty-two and tensions soon began to rise, Vucinic lashing out at Lucio with an elbow that was missed by the referee. With 53 minutes on the clock, Roma almost found themselves two goals down: Pandev met Stankovic’s cross from the right and nodded goalwards, the ball came off Cassetti’s back and Doni went walkabout; Sneijder played the ball back towards the empty goal only to see Cassetti hack clear with Pandev ready to pounce. The home side went close themselves in the 64th minute, when Perrotta was inches away from connecting with Taddei’s cross. Stankovic called another handball by De Rossi in the box after 71 minutes, but the claims again fell on deaf ears. Sneijder went for goal once more with 10 minutes remaining and this time his cross hairs were centred but Doni was alert to it.


Roma upped the pressure as the game entered the final stages: Vucinic kept trying to find a way through and kept being shut out by the Nerazzurri rearguard. Then, in the 89th minute, Pazzini had a glorious chance to possibly put the tie beyond Roma’s reach when Sneijder picked out his run behind the defence, but Doni did well to close down the angle. In injury time Vucinic again went looking for an equaliser, with Maicon on hand to snuff out the danger this time.


After 4 minutes of added time, Inter were able to celebrate an impressive victory that stands them in good stead for the second leg.

Roma 0-1 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorer: Stankovic 45.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Bologna).
Booked: Taddei 5, Maicon 14, Burdisso 51, Ranocchia 57, Sneijder 59.
Added time: 1+4 minutes.

Lineups
Roma:
32 Doni; 77 Cassetti (Rosi 78), 29 N. Burdisso, 4 Juan, 17 Riise; 7 Pizarro, 16 De Rossi; 11 Taddei, 20 Perrotta (Simplicio 73), 9 Vucinic; 22 Borriello (Menez 63).
Unused subs: 1 Lobont, 3 Castellini, 15 Loria, 33 Brighi.
Coach: Vincenzo Montella.

Inter:


1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic (Mariga 90+4); 10 Sneijder; 27 Pandev (Obi 82), 22 Milito (Pazzini 75).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 26 Chivu.
Coach: Leonardo.

Reactions
Leonardo
I still don’t know why there was no pre match press conference published for this game but Leo did do one after the match.


“It was important to break the string of poor results. Many times it seems easy to do but it’s not, because managing all the different factors in a match is never easy,” began Leonardo when commenting on the first leg victory in the semi-final of the Coppa Italia against Roma.

The Nerazzurri coach continued: “The team did well to react and get the win, which is never a given here in the Stadio Olimpico. I witnessed an excellent management of the play over the first 90 minutes. Now there’s the return leg at the San Siro, with everything still to play for.”

The inevitable question arose about his future. However, Leonardo responded: “I have no worries about the future. I live for today and I don’t even think about the rest; I live my own experience with the club and the president. We have a great rapport that is very open. What matters is finding the solutions to make the team win, as we saw this evening with an extraordinary goal from Stankovic – not to mention his fantastic performance. Pandev did excellent work to close down spaces and then restart in attack. Sneijder did a great job as well. The 4-4-1-1? We’re always looking for the best way to face the game. The team in general was very good. Was Milito disappointed to come off? I don’t really think so. Quite the opposite; his form is on the rise and he played a great game. In the second half, among other things, we had the chances to make it 2-0. But aside from that, the team responded well in general. Eto’o’s condition? We have to evaluate over the next few days, as we do for other players.”

Leonardo closed by commenting on the next few games facing the team: “Inter must try to maintain consistency; there have been defeats that took away our rhythm, but now we have to recover it, remaining calm and clear of mind. This evening was a test of maturity and clearness. I repeat, it wasn’t easy to find the proper calmness to take on a semi-final. A test for the team? After Parma there were final judgements handed out when, in football, they are never final. Our duty was to break the string of poor results. However, I had never seen a team that was absent; at times they even had too much desire, and this was creating a bit of confusion.”

Javier Zanetti


“An important victory in a stadium that is never easy. It followed a difficult moment, and I think that this evening Inter showed a great response.” Javier Zanetti’s comments to the microphones of Rai Sport after the Nerazzurri’s 1-0 victory over Roma in the first leg of semi-finals of the Coppa Italia. “We played a great game against a tough opponent. It’s never been easy to win here in Rome,” continued the captain.

As to whether or not this result was a response to the many rumours going around in recent days speculating on the future of the coach, Zanetti explained in his closing statements: “I’ve always said that Leonardo is doing a great job. Let’s forget about what’s being said and focus on Saturday’s match against Lazio.”

Yuto Nagatomo


“We prepared the game with the captain. The team was very united; we wanted to win and we did.” In a few simple words Yuto Nagatomo explained to Inter Channel how Inter were able to overcome Roma and win the first leg semi-final of the Coppa Italia.
“It was a very tough game but we never lost concentration and we earned a major victory. We can’t think about being tired; we have to win every game that awaits us from here until the end of the season. My performance tonight? I think it went pretty well, but I still have to improve a lot,” stated the Japanese full-back.

Dejan Stankovic


Another top performance, another goal to remember. Dejan Stankovic led Inter to a win in the first leg against Roma in the semi-final of the 2010-11 Coppa Italia, and he described the highs and lows of this evening’s match to Inter Channel: “I’m happy for the win. We were coming out of a difficult period and we did it as a group and as a team. But when a team like Roma stands in your way you can’t say that qualification is already secured.”

Stankovic admitted: “There’s regret for the league because we did so much to get to the derby. But we can’t say anything bad about this team because it’s a great team and it’s difficult to win everything, every year. I believe that if we manage to qualify for the Champions League and win another trophy, then this current season could be considered a good one. If we look back a few years, we would have to remember that the Coppa Italia has always been a very important trophy for Inter.”

Finally, a comment on the goals of Dejan Stankovic: “Never ordinary? [smiling] Well, let’s just say they are rarely tap-ins… However, the most important thing is that the one tonight earned a victory for the team. Now we’re preparing for the Lazio match with a low profile: compact and ready to set off again.”

Conclusion
It’s nice to have positive things to say about the team we love as they have been few and far between in recent weeks but the team played well last night (not their best but well enough) and it was great to see our defenders doing what they were supposed to, Ranocchia played very well stopping alot of Roma’s runs but the man of the match for me was Lucio as he was back to his blistering best with forward runs & defended with determined & professional challenges. Now hopefully we can go into the Lazio game on Saturday with the same determination and improve even more.

Roma v Inter Coppa Italia Semi Final Leg 1 Preview

The Coppa Italia semi final 1st leg against Roma is tonight and the reality of the situation is that this is Inter’s last chance of silverware this season (Not including the Supercup & World cup) unless a miracle occurs in the Scudetto.  So what are our chances of beating Roma across the two legs?  Well we’ve been really out of form since our defeat in the derby which isn’t being helped by the fact Leonardo doesn’t see anything wrong with how his tactics are affecting the team, there are rumours going around that tonight is Leo’s last chance and Baresi is waiting to take over until the end of the season if he does get the boot, but i’m not going to go on about Leo anymore as i don’t like to be negative about anything to do with my beloved Inter.  The important thing is that Inter perform without dwelling on recent bad results and Roma have had a bad season too sitting down in 6th just 1 point above Juve, so on that Inter hasn’t had that bad a season really! It also means we have got a very good chance of knocking them out of the cup, especially as we have got Maicon back in the squad the bad news though is that Eto’o is out for tonights match with a foot injury, hopefully though this will give Milito & Pazzini a chance to get the goals and be Nerazzurri’s heroes tonight.


Squad selection

Leonardo has called up 22 Nerazzurri for Roma v Inter, semi-final first leg of the Coppa Italia 2010/11 scheduled for tomorrow, Tuesday 19 April, at the Stadio Olimpico in Rome (kick-off 20:45 and live on Rai Uno).

Goalkeepers:

1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;

Defenders:

4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 37 Marco Davide Faraoni, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;

Midfielders:

5 Dejan Stankovic, 8 Thiago Motta, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;

Forwards:

7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
Press conference
At the time of writing this there is no press conference interviews published on Inter’s website so i can’t put them on here yet, but as soon as they appear i shall include them on here.  Until then you’ll have to make do with an Interview with Dejan Stankovic.
Dejan Stankovic
Dejan Stankovic was interviewed for Inter Channel’s Zona Mista programme. You can read his words here on inter.it.
Dejan, you’ve been through some good and some bad times with Inter, and this is one of those moments when the ball doesn’t seem to be running for you. Do you think that some of it is just down to chance?
“Yes, there is an element of bad luck in the negative period we’ve been through in the last two weeks. We can’t deny that it’s a difficult moment but we have plenty of experience; this group of players has seen a lot, both wonderful moments and very difficult moments, and sooner or later you come through them. The main thing is that we stick together and remember how good this group is and what we have achieved. We can’t hide anything but if we’re committed we can get out of the rut and achieve the goals we still have. As long as it’s still mathematically possible, anything can happen, though I’ve always been realistic in life. It’s very difficult for us to stay in the hunt for the Scudetto but we mustn’t lose out on Champions League qualification, which is crucial for this club, for our fans and for us players. We also have two games against Roma and a possible cup final. A team that is so used to winning as we are has to bring a trophy home; raising a cup is important to us.”

The Coppa Italia tie between Roma and Inter has been dubbed as “the semi-final of the frustrated”, but perhaps lots of people have forgotten that the Nerazzurri have already won two competitions this season…

“There were many people who couldn’t wait to let out everything they had been storing up for the last five years. Inter have won everything there is to win at club level in the last five years so it’s normal that we should be criticised now, just as we have to accept it, get our heads down and push on. I must say that I’m very proud. Even in the difficult times I’ve always said I am proud to be wearing this shirt and to have these fans who back us and tolerate us, because what they are doing is extraordinary. I’m really very proud to have a set of fans like that.”
How much desire and strength is left in this team to achieve the targets that remain?
“It’s not easy because we put so much into closing the gap from January up until two weeks ago. It was a minor miracle and sooner or later there’s a price to pay for that. It’s a shame it happened right at the key stage of the season but that’s football. In situations like this you get tired physically and mentally. You have to work hard in your head, trying to remember the good times, the great games, the moments of magic and move on without letting it all get to you. It is hard but we can do it. We have to find that energy from somewhere; I’m not sure from where but, as Zanetti said, we have to put some more petrol in the tank.”
Is Leonardo helping you in that?
“If you start playing again immediately, you don’t have time to think about what happened. Leonardo is trying to keep us calm and he knows what it’s about because he was a player too. As he told us on the pitch in Parma, we have to play without panicking because sooner or later the moment will pass. Hopefully starting from tomorrow.”
My Prediction
For this prediction i’m going to ignore the fact we’ve been terrible for a few weeks and keep my faith in the Nerazzurri to do what is needed to progress to the final with a 2-3 win for Inter tonight.

Parma v Inter match report & reactions


This really is getting beyond a joke now, as Inter wrote off pretty much any chance they had for the Scudetto this season and the 2-0 defeat to Parma puts the Nerazzurri a huge 8 points behind Milan with 5 games to go. As always I’m right behind Inter but unless Milan mess up 3 of the last 5 games, which isn’t very likely, Inter’s only remaining chance of silverware this season depends on the Coppa Italia semi finals against Roma. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the match but from what I’ve heard and read I’m glad I didn’t see it, but from what I can tell it is down to two factors firstly Leonardo’s crap tactics including his insistence of playing Pandev & Chivu and starting Sneijder on the bench while leaving Maicon out of the squad completely?!? The second I can only assume is down to frustrations of the recent bad results coming through in the players performances. Anyway here’s the match report and what Leonardo & co had to say….

Match report


Inter suffered a two goals to nil defeat at the hands of Parma in the Serie A 2010/11, Week 33 match played this evening at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.
In the first half Stankovic was the undisputed man-of-the-match for Inter. He came close on two occasions with a free-kick after 23 minutes which just missed the top corner and then with a long-range shot on 29 minutes which Mirante saved brilliantly. But it was Parma who took the lead after 35 minutes with neat passing between Zaccardo, Modesto and Giovinco who netted the ball with a left-foot shot. In the second half Sneijder came on and Inter began to speed up their game, but Amauri hit the crossbar on 74 minutes and then won the match 2 – 0 for Parma with his 86th minute goal.

First half –


As Maicon and Motta hadn’t been picked and with Cordoba recovering from an operation on his meniscus, Leonardo reshuffled the team playing Nagatomo right-back and Chivu left-back pushing Zanetti forward into midfield alongside Cambiasso and Kharja; Sneijder stayed on the bench and Stankovic played behind the two strikers, Pazzini and Eto’o. For Parma Candreva and Giovinco played behind lone striker Amauri.


After three minutes of play Parma were awarded the first free-kick from 23 metres out. Giovinco took it and the ball was deflected off the wall for the first of two consecutive corners which ended with Lucarelli’s overhead-kick floating high over the bar. Eto’o tried to come up with the response after 9 minutes when he took a pass from Lucio and hit a right from outside the area, but Lucarelli was there to turn the ball away for a corner, which came to nothing. Stankovic showed his skill on 23 minutes as he launched a free kick from 30 metres hitting it perfectly on his laces only to see it hit the angle of crossbar and upright to deny Inter’s Drago a well-deserved goal. Undoubtedly the Serb midfielder was man-of-the-match and he went on to create even more problems for Parma as he picked up a pass from Eto’o and fired another long-distance missile, forcing Mirante to dive at full-stretch to save on 29 minutes. Parma took the lead in the 35th minute with Giovinco: Zaccardo crossed from the left, Modesto picked up the ball on the far post and passed it back to the former Juventus striker who beat Julio Cesar with a low left-footed shot. Stankovic again in the last minute of the first half tried to break through the Parma defence following a one-two with Eto’o, but Mirante came off his line to stop the ball on the ground. After 45 minutes the teams went into the dressing rooms with the score at 1-0 for Parma.

Second half –


The second half got underway with Sneijder substituting Chivu. Zanetti moved back to cover in defence. Pazzini tried a shot from the edge of the area, picking up a pass from Stankovic, which Mirante saved after 47 minutes. It was Inter again on 57 minutes when Lucio crossed into the centre and Cambiasso headed the ball down for Eto’o and Ranocchia who were running in but, at the last minute, a brave Mirante dived to make the save. Sneijder came close too on the hour mark with a shot across goal which shaved the post. Leonardo took off Pazzini in the 61st minute and brought on Milito.


Sneijder took a free-kick on 67 minutes which came back off the wall and then Stankovic tried again with a hard, low shot from outside the 18-yard box but watched the ball slip narrowly wide after 68 minutes. Inter piled the pressure on the defence and Mirante’s goal, but it was Amauri who came closer to scoring than anyone else, as he intercepted a pass on 71 minutes and curled his shot towards the far post only to hit the crossbar. Two 74th minute tackles from Lucio in the penalty area, first of all on Giovinco and then on Antonelli brought protests from Parma as they claimed for fouls, but Rocchi was near at hand and let play go on. Amauri went on to put another nail in Inter’s coffin as Modesto’s pass from the left of the area found Bojinov, who in turn passed right to Amauri and he shot on the turn to beat the advancing Julio Cesar and make it 2-0. Milito kept on trying and his shot, following a pass from Stankovic found Mirante ready in the 90th minute. After 5 minutes of added time, the match ended 2-0, leaving the Nerazzurri on 63 points.

Parma 2-0 Inter (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Giovinco 35, Amauri 86.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Florence).
Bookings: Ranocchia 19, Zaccardo 54, Paletta 66, Stankovic 72.
Added time: 0 + 5 minutes.

Lineups

Parma:
83 Mirante; 5 Zaccardo, 29 Paletta, 6 Lucarelli, 18 Gobbi; 4 Morrone, 10 Dzemaili, 23 Modesto; 7 Candreva (80 Valiani 65), 21 Giovinco (86 Bojinov 81); 11 Amauri (9 Crespo 89).
Unused subs:1 Pavarini, 14 Galloppa, 26 Pisano, 40 Nwanko.
Coach: Franco Colomba.

Inter:


1 Julio Cesar; 55 Nagatomo, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu (10 Sneijder 46); 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 14 Kharja (27 Pandev 77); 5 Stankovic; 7 Pazzini (22 Milito 61), 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 20 Obi.
Coach: Leonardo.

Reactions

Leonardo


“Rather than thinking of the table now we’re thinking of our conditioning,” began Leonardo after the defeat against Parma. “We need points, but mathematically it becomes increasingly more difficult however. Apart from the 8 points, we’re thinking about recovering our conditioning. Tonight we started with too much haste to our game, but not because we were short on fuel. Then they scored on their first chance, and then it was noticeable that we ran out of gas. However, the team kept fighting until the end. They looked for the equaliser and then the winner, but instead we let in another goal.”

The coach was then asked about the exclusions he made and whether he would make them again: “It’s not about what I would do or wouldn’t do. The choices were made at the beginning and they were made considering who was better off than the others. Now we need peace and calm in order to come back with the clearness to our game that we had. To gain more points and to finish as high as possible, also in the Coppa Italia.”

Leonardo was asked what was the cause of the defeat: “We’ve lost so many games in different ways, because many things are missing, not just one thing. It’s a chain that can be set off in a positive or negative way. After an enormous run-up, we needed everything to be at 100 percent, and we didn’t have it. I repeat, now we have to recover our energy, use our experience and have clearness of mind. We got to a position to fight for first place because we built upon several things, starting with motivation. Then we started to lose the things that we needed. Now we have to recover our energy and manage it the best way possible. Other assessments aren’t needed.”

Leonardo added, “Things inside me don’t change because of wins or losses. I’ve been in football for quite a few years now and I know that all of the assessments, and also the criticisms, are made with emotionalism. I know that that’s life for a coach and I accept that with serenity, while at the same time concentrating clearly on what I have to do to end the season with the goals that we have. We can’t deny that the recent defeats have left their mark, but the team’s desire is still there.”

Kharja


“We have to give credit to Parma. We were perhaps a bit flat. We also had three chances in the second half and it’s a shame because we wanted so much to stay in the race for the Scudetto. But we’ll continue to fight until mathematically eliminated.” This was the promise from Houssine Kharja to all of the Nerazzurri fans as he spoke to Inter Channel after the defeat to Parma, leaving Inter with 63 points in the standings.

There was disappointment in Kharja’s eyes, and when this was pointed out he responded: “After the defeat it’s hard to smile, but I’m happy playing with these players who are world champions. Now we’ll continue to fight for the Coppa Italia, and also in the league we want as many points as possible.”

And speaking of the Coppa Italia, the next match is Tuesday at the Stadio Olimpico against a Roma team that was defeated today 2-3 by Palermo: “We know Palermo; they play very well, especially away from home. But the Coppa Italia is always an important showcase and I’m convinced that Roma will want to win this trophy,” concludes Kharja.

Nagatomo


“We have to stay united at this moment, a moment in which you can see the fatigue in this team, but that shouldn’t be an excuse,” were the words from Yuto Nagatomo after Parma v Inter. He continues, “Now it’s important to re-energize and move forward as a group, as we always have. We tried to attack Parma and we created chances. Eto’o also advised me to attack more on the flank and I tried to do it, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We have to look forward, to stay united and start winning again.”

Estaban Cambiasso


In his interview with Inter Channel Esteban Cambiasso highlighted the most positive aspect of Parma v Inter; that which saw the Nerazzurri fans continue to support their team on the pitch, despite the goals they suffered. ‘El Cuchu’ explained: “We have to thank our supporters, just as we must thank our president for the words that he dedicated to us this week. Unfortunately we weren’t able to satisfy anybody, neither the fans nor the president. But there are times when everything easily goes your way, and then there are others, like today, where you have to stick it out and work hard. Now we’re looking forward, as this team has always done. We’ll keep our heads up and move forward, hopefully with a bit more clearness of mind.”

The desire to show that nothing is lost; this can also be one of the causes that led to the defeat today: “I don’t think that ‘show’ is the right word. We wanted to win because we don’t like losing. And anyway, I would always prefer a defeat caused by too much desire to win than not enough of it. This team has desire as well as commitment. Unfortunately, today it went wrong.”

Javier Zanetti


“We have to face these last five league matches with the utmost commitment, re-finding the necessary strength. Then we have two semi-final matches in the Coppa Italia that are very important,” said Javier Zanetti after the match.

“I don’t think that anyone can discuss the quality of this group, in either victory or defeat. We have to try, as always, to stay outside of the criticism that will come. To remain united like we’ve always been. Furthermore, we want to thank our fans, who have always been there supporting us. To win what we’ve won everything functioned together: the team, the club and the fans. It must continue to work that way, even in difficult times,” said Zanetti.

Conclusion
Like everyone else I’m disappointed that we couldn’t keep the pressure on Napoli & Milan and the fact we lost by two goals to a mediocre team like Parma, but we have to carry on with our heads held high and just take every game as it comes starting with the Coppa Italia game against Roma and even if we don’t win anything this season I am and always will be proud to call myself an Interista!
Sempre Forza Inter!!!

Parma v Inter Match Preview

It’s been a tough week for Inter with our departure from the Champions league on Wednesday, but today we face our next challenge against Parma at the Stadio Tardini where we must win to keep up any chance of winning the Scudetto which as we know is almost as much of an unlikely result as beating Shalke was mid week but there’s still the chance as Milan are only 5 points ahead which means they only have to mess up twice in the last 6 games for us to overtake them, presuming we win! It’s a long shot but as Stankovic proved the other week long shots sometimes go your way!

Squad Selection

Leonardo has named 21 players in his match-day squad for Inter’s Serie A 2010/11 Week 33 game against Parma, at the Stadio Ennio Tardini (kick-off at 20:45).

Goalkeepers:
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;

Defenders:
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 37 Marco Davide Faraoni, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;

Midfielders:
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;

Forwards:
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
Press Conference

Leonardo
“It’s crucial that we deal with this situation and remain focused on our goals: six league games and two Coppa Italia semi-final matches. We have to deal with our disappointment but this team is capable of doing that. They have never failed to respond to situations.” That was how Leonardo began his press conference on the eve of the Parma v Inter match (Serie A 2010/11, Week 33), which will be played tomorrow at the Stadio Tardini in Parma (20:45 kick-off).

“We’ll have to manage our energy levels well because we can still have a say in things. Nothing has changed for me: I’m here just as I was on the first day, looking to get results. As for us getting knocked out of Europe, we were right to believe in the comeback but for it to happen certain things needed to come about during the game – the spark that I mentioned the other day didn’t come,” continued the Nerazzurri coach.
Leonardo was then asked what had to be done on a psychological level to keep morale up, starting with tomorrow’s game against a very motivated side. “Parma need to win this game and they have experienced players but our team know how to overcome difficult moments like this and can find the right balance – psychologically too. We had that against Schalke but it was a normal game when it needed to be an extraordinary one. Against Parma we will certainly have to be very careful.”
What of Leonardo’s future and Inter’s future? “I’m only thinking about the six league games and the Coppa Italia,” replied Leonardo. I’m not the sort of person who worries about getting criticised; in fact sometimes criticism gives you more freedom of choice. In any case now is not the time to start analysing the future: we have games to worry about and to play.”

There was a word on Yuto Nagatomo’s performances: “Nagatomo has done really well, also in situations that weren’t easy: he’s confirmed what we expected from him.” A Japanese journalist commented on the fact that Japan have decided to take part in the Copa América in Argentina in July, and asked about the effect that may have on preparations for next season. Leonardo replied: “It’s important for all the players to be involved in their team’s pre-season preparations, and the Copa América will partially overlap with that, but it’s an official tournament and there’s not much we can do about it, apart from be careful to deal with his energy levels afterwards. However, that’s not only the case for Nagatomo but for lots of our South-American players too.”
There was then an explanation for the decision to leave Esteban Cambiasso out of the team to face Schalke: “Often people confuse the absolute value of a player with the needs of a particular moment. I’m not saying I’m always right but I always try to do what I think is best for a particular game. Cambiasso has played both in front of the defence and wide in a three-man midfield lots of times. So has Thiago Motta. Stankovic can play anywhere in midfield, as can other midfielders such as Kharja and Mariga. It’s the situation of a certain game that determines your choices.”

The coach was then asked about the fact that Eto’o hasn’t got on the scoresheet in recent matches: “Eto’o is having an extraordinary season and it’s difficult to say why he hasn’t hit the net for a few games. It depends on the situation and on the movement of the whole team, not just on him.”

What are Inter’s chances of winning the league? “Anything can happen, although we are dependent on the results of others, on other sides slipping up. What we have to do is think about ourselves, and if others do slip up then we must do our best to take advantage. We’re only thinking about playing football, about playing our games normally, without letting anything else affect us and without worrying about things.”
What will be the most important factor from now until the end of the season: the coach’s influence, luck or the players’ determination? “All of the above,” said Leonardo. “We need all of those things, and to be able to handle them all well.”
To end with, there was a question about El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is set to take place four times over the next few weeks in Spain and in the Champions League: “I have a soft spot for Real Madrid,” the coach admitted, “and I hope that Kakà will soon be able to enjoy some success after his difficult spell out injured. However, the football Barcelona play is fantastic to watch.”

My Prediction
Inter have got a point to prove today but anything can happen with Leonardo’s tactics so i’m going to predict a 1-2 win for Inter, with Milan playing Sampdoria tonight and Napoli playing Udinese tomorrow we could close the gap a bit with a win tonight as both Sampdoria & Udinese have the potential of causing upsets for Milan & Napoli, here’s hoping anyway!

My suggestions for the rebuilding of Inter Milan

After getting knocked out of the Champions league quarter finals by such an overwhelming scoreline many people (myself included) have been suggesting that Inter needs a major shake up of the squad and the way we do things, so I thought I’d write this post to share with you all what I consider to be a suitable solution to our problems ( Be warned some of my suggestions may be highly controversial amongst my fellow Interista)……
Management
The first thing that must be changed is the management as Leonardo is not the right man to lead the Nerazzurri to glory next season, so who is? The obvious answer is our previous saviour Jose Mourinho but I don’t think he’ll be back with Inter for a fair few years yet(though I do think he will return one day), Pep Gaudiola has been linked in recent weeks but who knows how true that is, though he seems the most likely as there aren’t many managers that are capable of running a club of Inters stature so we’ll have to wait and see what Moratti decides.
Formation
This is where I do my armchair football management bit, since Leonardo came to the club he’s insisted on sticking to ultra attacking formations like 4-2-1-3 which as we’ve seen time and again leaves the defence weak and ends up with our best central striker playing out on the left, but I’ve always thought that a 5-3-2 would suit Inter much better so I’m going to base everything I suggest for the team on this formation (many years of playing football manager have proved this works for Inter, Ha ha!)

Players
Im going to go through each section of the formation and say who I think is first choice, who should be back up, who should be bought and who should be sold. As much as I’d like to include players like Messi & C.Ronaldo in this I’m not going to because let’s face it that isn’t going to happen so I’m going for a more realistic approach.

Goalkeepers
Julio Cesar has had some stick this season but I still think he is one of the best in the world so he stays as first choice keeper, that said I think Inter should bring Viviano in as we already half own him and maybe rotate him with Cesar throughout the season. Then as a third keeper to act as back up we should look to our youth team, which means Orlandoni & Castellazzi should be sold or considering their ages let them retire.
Defenders
I’ll start this bit with the central defenders which for my formation requires 3 first choice players the first two are fairly obvious with Walter Samuel & Lucio being definite first choices then the 3rd should be rotated between 3 others who should be Ranocchia and we should buy Kolarov from Man City or Mexes from Roma both of which are rumoured to be interested in a move to Inter, and also a talented youngster just to give a bit more depth. Which means Cordoba & Chivu should be sold and Materazzi should retire and be given some role at the club. Again relying on our youth team for any additional backup needed.
Next are our wingbacks who will be responsible for providing width up the pitch. On the right is Maicon & on the left we should make Nagatomo’s move permanent as these two are fantastic at playing these roles, as for backup we should keep hold of Santon and rotate him with either as he can play both sides but we could do with 2 other back up wing-backs and we should maybe look for talented youngsters that can play these roles for the youth team but also provide backup for the first team.
Midfield
My vision for the midfield 3 is for the central most player to sit slightly back from the other two and act as a holding player so Cambiasso would be first choice in this position with Sneijder and either Fabregas or Modric (again both are being linked to Inter) providing the midfield creation with Motta, Stankovic, Kharja & Coutinho as the rotation players although if we sign Ganso then one of them would have to go and again backing them up with youth players. Now for the highly controversial bit Zanetti should hand over the captains armband to Cambiasso and hang up his boots to be given a role in the club like Materazzi, don’t get me wrong i have huge respect for both Zanetti & Materazzi as i have for everyone that helped us win the treble last season but at 37 it’s time they moved over and let the club evolve to stay among the elite clubs. Obi & Mariga should be sold as neither have really made an impact with the Nerazzurri and for this plan to work we’d need all the transfer funds we could get.
Strikers
Spearheading our attack we should have two strikers, Eto’o and either Tevez or Sanchez depending on who we sign in the summer both strikers in central positions where they should be, with Castaignos and Pazzini as the rotation players which means selling Suazo, Pandev & Dell’Agnello with our youngsters providing back up for the first team, Also if we need to sell Milito too to get transfer funds in to buy the other world class players then so be it.

Conclusion
This proposal is highly realistic with us keeping the most useful of the current squad while disposing of the deadwood & strengthening the squad with a few quality signings, the down side is this will cost the club a fair bit but it is desperately needed for a club of our stature and the out going players will cover part of the costs maybe even doing part in the summer and part in January or next summer. (I have no idea how much money Inter has available for transfers so i don’t know how many players we can buy at once)
This formation would give the team the defensive and attacking balance we need at using youth players for back up gives them a bit of 1st team experience and also makes it easier for them to move up to the 1st team squad which will help in the long run with home grown talent. Let me know what you think of my suggestions and if you’ve got other suggestions let us know in the comments box.
P.S Mr Moratti if you read this and you like the sound of it I’d be happy to take over as manager & I don’t cost a lot! Ha ha!!!

Shalke 2-1 Inter (Agg 7-3) Champions league quarter final match report & reactions

That’s it the reigning champions are out of the competition after an embarrassing 7-3 agg defeat to Shalke, obviously the worst of the damage was done in the 1st leg but even after all the talk from the Inter camp about believing in being able to turn it around on the night only a handful of Inter players looked like they had the passion to win, yes we had the majority of possession and our passing was good but there was no creativity and there was a definite spark missing from our finishing our only goal of the game was more fluke than intention when Motta managed to get a touch that bounced into the net. The most impressive Inter player again for me was Yuto Nagatomo who never gave up and put 110% in to trying to create something for the Nerazzurri. So who’s to blame? …….

My opinion for what it’s worth is that Leonardo should be held responsible due to his inability to change his tactics to suit the game and yet again he put our best central striker out on the left, Eto’o spent most of the game chasing back for the ball and putting in crosses when he should have been in the box ready to finish crosses! As I’ve said to me there was only a handful of players that seemed to be trying and they were Eto’o, Nagatomo & Maicon though Ranocchia & Lucio put in some good defensive work though at times emotions were over running Lucio and a few times i thought he would get sent off. but what of our other players? Stankovic, Sneijder & Zanetti were well below there usual standards and the commentator on Sky sports was even asking why Zanetti was even on the field which as much as i respect our captain i had to agree with as he seemed to have no influence what so ever, maybe it’s time he passed on the captains armband and hung up his boots! Motta got our goal but apart from that all he did was commit some fouls which admittedly save our bacon a couple of times but he wasn’t good. Julio Cesar played OK too but he was a long way off the standard he was last season and looked clumsy far too often, then when Pandev came on he was just his usual bumbling self (why does Leo keep playing him when he quite clearly isn’t up to the job) which just leaves Milito who is the only player that has an excuse for being below par as he’s not had much match practise all season.
That’s my rant about the players over but i do believe that if Inter are to compete next season we really need to shake things up with the squad and get rid of that idiot Leonardo (so what if he’s a nice guy, what use is that if he can’t manage our team properly?)
Match Report

FIRST HALF

To reach the semi-final Inter needed to win by a four-goal margin, and Sneijder, Milito and Eto’o were the attackers chosen for this particular task against Schalke. Leonardo selected Nagatomo as left-back, with Zanetti in midfield and Thiago Motta preferred to Cambiasso in front of the defence, in which Lucio could once again be found.
The first corner of the match was for the Germans, earned by Jurado and taken by Raul at the 3rd minute. However, the Nerazzurri were the first to have a shot on goal when Sneijder’s right-footed effort in the 5th minute was blocked by Neuer. An all-Japanese battle between Nagatomo and Uchida saw the Nerazzurri full-back get the upper hand in the 7th minute on an enterprising manoeuvre with Eto’o. Shortly afterwards Inter won their first corner kick, which was headed over the bar by Thiago Motta. Around the 17th minute Raul began to inspire the Schalke attack, first when he forced a diving save from Julio Cesar from Jurado’s cross, then again when he burst into the box, only to be expertly closed down by Nagatomo. In the 20th minute Edu took a free kick that was cleared from danger by Thiago Motta. In the 23rd minute Inter earned a series of corners but had nothing to show for it, other than a foul by Eto’o on Neuer. The German keeper was called upon in the 28th minute to block Nagatomo’s cross from the left with Milito lurking. The Argentine attacker then latched on to a long vertical pass from Lucio, but Howedes intervened to clear up the threat. Stankovic’s goal from the first leg was chosen by UEFA as the best of the quarter-finals, and it almost looked as if he was going to respond with another long-range gem this evening, but Neuer managed to palm away his vicious shot for a corner. In the 39th minute the Serb released Maicon with a forward ball that left the Brazilian one-on-one with the Schalke keeper, but the controlling touch wasn’t perfect and the ball finished wide of the post. Inter were now dominating at this point, but Schalke were the first get onto the scoreboard; Baumjohann touched a forward pass into space for Raul in the 45th minute and the Spaniard dribbled around Julio Cesar to deposit the ball into the empty net and make it 1-0.
One minute of injury time was added and then both sides entered the dressing rooms; Inter had the better of the possession, but the Germans had the goal.

SECOND HALF

The situation was complicated, and so Leonardo sent on Pandev in place of Stankovic, thus fielding a 4-2-3-1. Inter’s equaliser arrived courtesy of Thiago Motta; Sneijder’s corner found the head of Lucio and was then sent on to the Italo-Brazilian who, from the middle of a scrum, put the ball in the net to bring the score to 1-1. In the 54th minute Julio Cesar dived to intercept Baumjohann’s dangerous cross. Five minutes later Howedes scored from Jurado’s cross (flicked on by Edu) but the goal was disallowed for offside. Inter did not give up, and in the 62nd minute Sneijder crossed for Eto’o, but the Cameroonian sent his header high over the crossbar. In the 68th minute Milito volleyed on the turn from Eto’s long pass only to see his shot sail wide, and then seven minutes later Sneijder’s free kick grazed the post. Schalke continued to advance; on a counterattack Raul lobbed a pass forward into space for a rampaging Howedes, and his crisp shot gave Julio Cesar no chance. 2-1. After a minute of injury time referee Skomina whistled to end the match. It was supposed to be an impossible task, and so it was. Yet it is also impossible to forget everything that the exiting European Champions gave us when they reconquered a trophy that had been awaited for so many years.

Schalke 04 2-1 Inter (HT: 1-0; AGG: 7-3)
Scorers: Raul 45, Thiago Motta 49, Howedes 81.
Referee: Damir Skomina (Slovenia).
Booked: Lucio 30, Raul 43, Thiago Motta 58, Papadopoulos 66, Schmitz 87, Ranocchia 90.
Added time: 1 + 1 minutes.

Line ups
Schalke 04:
1 Neuer; 22 Uchida, 21 Metzelder, 4 Howedes, 2 Sarpei; 11 Baumjohann (31 Draxler, 73), 32 Matip, 14 Papadopoulos, 18 Jurado (13 Schmitz, 87); 7 Raul, 9 Edu (15 Charisteas, 77).
Unused subs: 33 Schober, 5 Plestan, 8 Hao, 16 Karimi.
Coach: Ralf Rangnick.

Inter:

1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 5 Stankovic (27 Pandev, 46); 10 Sneijder (29 Coutinho, 80), 22 Milito, 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 2 Cordoba, 14 Kharja, 19 Cambiasso, 23 Materazzi, 29 Coutinho.
Coach: Leonardo.

Reactions
Leonardo
“We left ourselves open at the end, when it was hard to believe in the result we needed and it was too late to turn it around. In any case this tie was decided in the first leg, though we believed we could do it tonight and we showed that on the pitch. But the moment didn’t come for us, we needed something to spark it off.” That was Leonardo speaking after Inter’s elimination from the Champions League.

“We’re disappointed because we really believed it was possible. We’re disappointed to go out, but this team has given so much, even in difficult situations,” he continued. “Our overall condition as we came into this quarter-final wasn’t the best; we had used up so much energy and that penalised us, starting in the first leg of course. It’s not the same disappointment as after the first-leg, mind; that was a truly bizarre game.
“I had dreamt about us completing the comeback,” he added. “If we had got a goal at the beginning, if we had been as clinical as we wanted, it might have set us on our way, but it wasn’t to be. Certainly we could have done better but we weren’t able to. It’s a shame that Schalke scored from their only decent chance in the first half and that we weren’t incisive enough. They were struggling to cope with the situation but we couldn’t strike the blow that might have turned the tie.” Asked to give his team a mark, the Brazilian replied: “It’s not about giving marks, but this team has undoubtedly had a troubled season. I’ve asked a lot of them and it wasn’t easy with all the players that were returning from injuries. There’s no regret about anything because, as I said, this team has done so much and given me so much. I was and I am enthusiastic, and I wouldn’t regret things even if we lost every game. I’ll maintain my enthusiasm; you know I don’t think about the future but I work the same way as I did the first day. Now we have to make sure we overcome the moment with intelligence. We have to battle on in the league and in the Coppa Italia: we still have a lot to do.”

Javier Zanetti

“We did everything we could in this competition. Raul’s goal came from a mistake of ours when we were in control of the game, but the tie was already compromised in the first leg. Of course we’re all disappointed.” That was Javier Zanetti’s comment as he spoke to Rai at the end of the game. He continued: “Now we have to give it everything we’ve got until the end of the season, in the league and the Coppa Italia. We certainly believe we can win them.”

Wesley Sneijder

“We’ll move on now: we want to win the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia,” began Wesley Sneijder as he spoke to Inter Channel. “We thought we could do it tonight but we knew it would be very difficult: we created lots of chances but if you don’t stick them away it’s very hard. Schalke did well in San Siro and again today; we lost the tie at home more than here. The applause from the Nerazzurri fans? We thank every one of them because they are always behind us. Now we have to do our best for them in the league and in the cup. We’ll put this elimination behind us and focus on the targets we have left. We’ll look forward.”
Yuto Nagatomo

“I can’t hide the fact that I’m a little disappointed after this defeat, but we don’t have time to stop and worry about it now: we still have the league and we’ll concentrate on that and on the Coppa Italia, which are our targets from today.” Yuto Nagatomo commented on the defeat at the Veltins-Arena as he spoke to Inter Channel. There was also a match within the match, with Uchida and Nagatomo facing each other in Schalke 04 v Inter: “We lost,” confessed the Nerazzurri full-back, “but Uchida has won with Schalke and the Japanese part of me is a little bit happy because he will go on with his team.”

Andrea Ranocchia

“The first-leg result certainly influenced this game,” explained Andrea Ranocchia at the end of the match. “We came here and went for it. We put everything into it but unfortunately we just couldn’t get the early goal. A team like Inter can look forward now, though. We have the league and the cup and we want to be in them till the end,” the Nerazzurri defender concluded.

Massimo Moratti


The day after Inter’s exit from the 2010/11 Champions League, president Massimo Moratti wished to send out a public message to Inter and all the fans through the club’s official website.

“Today I would like to thank my team, all the players from recent years and the current side who have brought so much joy to all Inter fans, myself included. We are, and always will be, proud of their achievements.

I am sure that the team will dig deep and find the strength and quality that we know they are capable of, so that we can achieve the targets we are aiming for this season too. And I am sure that, with the fans’ support, the coach and the team will bring us yet further joy.”

Conclusion

So that’s it for our European dream this season but we’re still in the chase for the Scudetto & Coppa Italia so all is not lost yet, as a devoted Interista i am obviously disappointed with the result and the lack of emphusiasm shown by some players last night but i also believe in Inter and we will be back to recover our European title even stronger next season because as we all know the Nerazzurri never give up and our love for this great team makes everything possible as they showed the world last season.
I do think though it is time for Inter to evolve again to keep up with the other elite teams of the world, we need a fresh manager and a new approach and some of our older players will need to be sacrificed to acheive that!

Shalke v Inter Preview Champions league quarter final 2nd leg

Here we are just a few hours from the 2nd leg of the Champions league quarter finals against Shalke, (cue the Mission Impossible music) and already most people have written off our chances of progressing to the semis but is it really that impossible for Inter to pull off the comeback again in Germany?  Everyone at Inter and all us Nerazzurri faithful don’t seem to think so, i mean if they can score 5 against us in the 1st leg then why should it be so unlikely that we can get 4 tonight?  As long as Leonardo puts a bit of emphasis and pace in the defense like he did against Chievo last weekend there’s no reason why we can’t show the Germans the door, and as an extra boost for Inter Walter Samuel is in the squad for the first time since his injury in November, though i really think Leonardo shouldn’t play him in this match and risk him, that said i don’t see anything wrong with putting him on for the last 10 minutes just to get him some competitive match practice.

Squad

Leonardo has called up 22 Nerazzurri players for Schalke 04 v Inter, the return leg of the quarter-finals of the 2010-11 UEFA Champions League, to be played on Wednesday 13 April at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen.
Goalkeepers:
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;

Defenders:
2 Ivan Cordoba, 4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 25 Walter Samuel, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;

Midfielders:
5 Dejan Stankovic, 8 Thiago Motta, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;

Forwards:
9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.

My Predicted Line up

I think Leonardo should go with a 4-3-1-2 formation with Julio Cesar in goal(Obviously!), Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia & Nagatomo in defense then Kharja, Cambiasso & Zanetti in midfield with Sneijder sitting just behind Eto’o & Milito up front,  then during the game sub Kharja for Stankovic and in the last 10 mins give Samuel a run out in place of Ranocchia.
Press Conferences
Leonardo
”I knew Schalke 04 coach Ralf Rangnick before the first leg. He came back here after a while away and that’s never easy, but he immediately got everyone motivated and has done well both in Europe and in the league. If he was inspired by Arrigo Sacchi, he has taken the example of one of football’s greatest,” explained Leonardo at the press conference the day before Schalke 04 v Inter, the UEFA Champions League quarter-final return leg that will be played at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen tonight (20:45 kick-off).

Leonardo was asked if he believes in miracles: “I don’t believe in miracles but in results that happen in sport, because what happened in the first leg was strange and now we have to come up with something special. We don’t only believe we can go through; we believe we can produce a fantastic performance. What’s important is that we get the balance right, even if we’re aiming for a big result. If you want a big result you need to turn in a big performance. It’s important that we have the whole squad available: Lucio is with us again, Chivu is suspended, but we’re almost at full strength.”

The Nerazzurri coach was then asked about the general condition of the team. “I think the players are clear-headed. They have all had their own comebacks, in football and in life. They are determind to prove that what happened in San Siro was a blip because we didn’t perform to our potential. They’re all in pretty good shape, overall fitness levels are good, but of course we’ll have to assess some minor problems that a few of the players have. We still have a day and a day at this level is a lot. How much is about tactics and how much psychology? Naturally the psychological aspect is important. It’s a game between two teams and we have to win while they have to make sure they don’t concede four goals. We’re aware of the difficulties but we have nothing to lose. Let’s not forget that in the first leg, in all the episodes that went their way we were also very unlucky. What am I going to say to the lads? I can’t tell you anything now: those things are born of the moment and can’t be prepared. We will plan the tactical side of things very carefully but what I say will come naturally when it comes to the time to speak to the players. If we think about it, in pragmatic terms, anything can happen in football and the team know that. It will be a very exciting game.”
Javier Zanetti
Javier Zanetti is the player chosen by Leonardo to accompany him in the press conference on the eve of Schalke 04 v Inter, the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg to be played at the Veltins-Arena in Gelsenkirchen tomorrow (20:45 kick-off).

“I’ve been here twice before, in the old stadium, for the UEFA Cup,” said the Nerazzurri captain, “but tomorrow will be my first time in the new stadium. It’s a great stadium and we hope that it will also be a great evening for us tomorrow.”

Zanetti was asked if he thought the Germans would make any changes to their team. “We respect their whole squad so it doesn’t matter if they change things. Is Farfan’s suspension a bonus? I know him and have faced him many times with Argentina. He’s an important player but we’re only thinking about playing our own game and hoping that everything will work out for the best.”

Is the feat required tomorrow a possible or an impossible one? The skipper replied: “We’re aware of the fact that it will be difficult but we have 90 minutes to try and pull off an amazing result. Lots of things can happen in 90 minutes if you perform to the best of your ability. It’s crucial that we reduce our mistakes to the minimum and create lots of chances so we can score lots of goals. Would it be an injustice if we went out against Schalke? I have respect for Schalke; they proved in the first leg that they are an excellent side and if they’ve come this far it means they have certain qualities. Still, knowing that it will be tough, we want to put in a top performance to give us the best chance possible of qualifying. We are a very good team regardless of who plays. It happens sometimes that you mess up a game but that doesn’t take anything away from Inter’s worth. Tomorrow we still have a chance to go through and we want to give it our best shot, but don’t say that we didn’t respect them enough in the first leg; we never underestimated them. As I said, you mess up games sometimes but that takes nothing away from Inter’s worth and everything that Inter have won over the years.”

President Moratti

President Massimo Moratti answered the questions put to him by journalists outside the Saras offices yesterday
Here you can read the Inter president’s statements:

Inter have been described as a ‘crazy’ team before. Could that work to your advantage against Schalke on Wednesday?
“It’s about remaining fully focused and trying to pull off something that seems impossible, yet it’s precisely that impossibility that makes it such an intriguing match.”

After a long spell on the sidelines, Walter Samuel is now available again: could that give the team a psychological boost?
“I don’t think he’ll play or be in the squad but…”

He’s in the squad.
“Ah, good then. That way he can start getting involved with the group again. I doubt he’ll be able to play, though. Samuel is a sure-fire guarantee. We’ve all forgotten what might have happened this year if he had been playing. Maybe we would be sitting a little higher – he’s such an important figure.”

It’s a very particular moment for the whole team but perhaps even more so for Diego Milito…
“He’s looked good to me. In the two games he’s played, I thought he looked sharp and very fresh. That’s great and if he could give us a hand right now, he would be very handy indeed. But all the players seem really up for it. We know it’s going to be very difficult but, as I said, what makes this game so intriguing is precisely the fact that it seems impossible.”

Was Yuto Nagatomo Leonardo’s idea or had the club been tracking him since before Christmas?
“We’d been following him for a while. It was an opportunity: we did a swap that was good both for him and for Santon. For us, it meant bringing in a player with certain characteristics, and for the time being he seems to be doing very well.”

Do you think Inter have more chance of reaching the Champions League semi-finals or overtaking AC Milan in the league?
[He smiles] “We’re just taking it one day at a time and we’ll see where we end up.”

Conclusion

There is no doubt that tonight’s game will be a very tough one for Inter, but we have an extremely strong team and as Leonardo said anything is possible in football and anything can happen in the 90 minutes on the pitch so who knows in a couple of weeks we may still be lining up against Manchester United in the Semis and until the final whistle is blown tonight we have to keep the faith that it’s still a possibility, that said if we do get knocked out of the competition by Shalke we can still hold our heads high as Interista because Inter are still among the world’s elite and going out in the quarter finals isn’t something to be ashamed of and besides it’s like Zanetti said nothing can take away what Inter have achieved in the last 6 years.  So my prediction on the score has to be 4-0 to Inter as i truly believe we can achieve the impossible!
PAZZA INTER AMALA!!!
FORZA THE MIGHTY NERAZZURRI!!!!
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