Monthly Archives: April 2011
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.”
“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.”
“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.”
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.
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
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.”
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.”
“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!!!
“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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
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.”
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…
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….
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
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.”
“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.
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!!!
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 37 Marco Davide Faraoni, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
“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.”
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.”
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.
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!!!
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.”
“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.
“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.”
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.
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
2 Ivan Cordoba, 4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 25 Walter Samuel, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 8 Thiago Motta, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
My Predicted Line up
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.”
“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.”
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 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.”