Serie A: Palermo 4-3 Inter, Gasperini’s formation issues sink the Nerazzurri

What a match! Goals galore and end to end action, a perfect evening’s football for the neutral fan and jubilation for the Palermo fans. The trouble is I’m neither, I’m Interisti and for me there was nothing perfect about our week 2 fixture at the Stadio Renzo Barbera, in fact if I’d written this report straight after the game it would have just been a page full of offensive words aimed at Gasperini, luckily though after a nights sleep I have managed to calm down enough to write this without resorting to insults.

First off i’d like to say that everything I’ve said in previous articles about giving Gasperini a few weeks to prove his 3 man defense does work, FORGET IT, last night proved to me without a doubt that it does not and will not ever work for us! The attacking side of the formation worked great (once Sneijder was on the field!), but the defence was non existent with Miccoli and Hernandez breaking them down every chance they got. This of course was Gasperini’s 2nd competitive match in charge of Inter and more importantly his 2nd competitive loss, not to mention the poor performances during pre season, so it’s not surprising many Interisti are losing patience with him already.

Where did it all go wrong in Sicily?

First half –

There was a bad feeling about this match from the second the lineups were announced and it became clear that both Pazzini and Sneijder were starting on the bench, with a 3-4-3 formation lining up on the pitch consisting of Lucio, Samuel and Zanetti in the back line, Nagatomo, Stankovic (who was playing his 300th game for Inter), Cambiasso and Jonathan making up the midfield and an attacking trio of Forlan, Milito and Zarate up front, 3 of the starters making their league debuts for Inter.

Straight from the whistle Palermo were attacking putting Inter on to the back foot, and 5 minutes in Miccoli crossed the ball in for Hernandez, but Julio Cesar got his timing perfect to come off his line and punch the ball away. 7 minutes later he was called in to action again as Ilicic dropped a long pass in to the far post area and he managed to out jump everyone else in the box to clear the danger. Things got even more hair raising for Inter on the 14th minute when Cambiasso’s foul on Miccoli gave them a free kick in a good position which Cesar saved low down without to much trouble, by this point Inter were looking in real trouble with no organisation across the pitch and Palermo running rings around us. In the 19th minute the Rosanero broke again as Hernandez was picked out by Miccoli and looked to have a clear run to goal only for our Captain Zanetti, who is in his 17th season for Inter, to fly in from the left to put an end to the run. Inter were being run ragged by now, myself and probably every other Interisti in the world were just waiting for Palermo to take the lead, even on the rare occasion we did get to make an attack our players were looking anything but dangerous, with Forlan not really having an influence on the left and Zarate was terrible on the right, the promising ex Lazio man not warming to the fans with his bad debut, but we shouldn’t be too hard on him yet as he’s young and I think a lot of the trouble last night was down to nerves.

Then on the 33rd minute something happened that no one was expecting, Inter scored! Completely against the run of play we managed to get a corner that Stankovic got on the end of to shoot from distance, which to be fair was probably going wide but it reached ‘El Principe’ who was just onside in the 6 yard box and managed to get a touch on it to divert it in to the back of the net, Tzorvas didn’t stand a chance and the Nerazzurri were 1-0 up. It is worth noting that up until now Inter’s most attacking player was Lucio who made several runs out of defence in to the oppositions territory and taking up the role of playmaker, the only other Inter player that looked threatening to this point was one of the players on his debut and probably the surprise of the match for me, Jonathan, who was showing great vision, trickery and movement up the right wing. After the goal though Gasperini had seen enough from Zarate and he came off to be replaced by the man who should have been on the pitch from the start Wesley Sneijder. As soon as the Dutchman was on the field Inter’s attack completely changed and instead of looking lost and disorganised as they had for the majority of the 1st half, they now looked threatening. But again in the 42nd minute Miccoli got a chance on goal that Samuel luckily got an intervention on allowing Julio Cesar to block to safety. After a minute of injury time the 1st half came to an end and despite their 0-1 lead Inter had spent most of the half chasing Palermo. By this time the fans were calling for a change to the formation before any damage was done by Palermo, and we all hoped Gasperini would bring something else for the second half.


To my disappointment Gasperini’s men returned to the pitch exactly as they left it and it only took 3 minutes for us to get punished for it, when substitute Acquah (who came on for Della Rocca after the break) played a deep ball to Miccoli who yet again beat our defence and Julio Cesar for the equalizer. Cesar subsequently received a yellow card for complaining about an unseen foul in midfield as the Palermo move built up. Soon after Milito had another chance to put the Nerazzurri back in front only to see Migliaccio intercept it with his arm, amazingly the referee Brighi seemed to ignore the offence that should have earned the Rosanero player a red card, much to Milito’s and everyone else’s disgust, though he could not ignore the foul on Samuel in the box not long after during an Inter corner by Silvestre, resulting in a clear penalty which Milito calmly put away for his 2nd goal of the evening.

Our celebrations were short lived though as just 3 minutes later Hernandez broke though our increasingly shaky defense to put the home team level again. This was the point for me that should have screamed to Gasperini to do something about the defense but whether through being stubborn or just plain stupidity the only change he made was to bring on Obi in replacement for Nagatomo in the 61st minute when we gave away another free kick in which Miccoli tested Cesar, who cleared the danger with a great save. 5 minutes later Ilicic got away from the Nerazzurri defence again and tried to wrong foot Julio Cesar with a shot at the nearpost but the Brazilian shot stopper managed to somehow stop it with his leg. The 71st minute saw Gasperini make his 3rd and final change by taking off another defensive player in the shape of Cambiasso to replace him with attacking midfielder Alvarez, to be fair to ‘Ricky’ he played very well in the central midfield position but in my opinion it put our struggling defence under a lot more pressure. This became even more evident when a foul by Samuel had the Sicilian team screaming for a red card after his earlier yellow with Miccoli taking the resulting free kick that forced Cesar to punch the ball away. In the 86th minute the Rosanero seemingly put the game to bed thanks to a great free kick from non other than Miccoli. But the scoring hadn’t finished yet and Pinilla took an audacious 20 meter shot that the Inter keeper only saw as it hit the back of the net, making it 4-2 to the home side. Inter though never gave up and kept on pushing until the very end when in the 91st minute Sneijder found Forlan in the center, who put away his debut goal to make it 4-3, this sadly wasn’t enough for Inter to save face and after another 3 minutes of injury time Brighi called an end to a bitterly disappointing night in Sicily for the Nerazzurri.

Palermo 4-3 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorers: Milito 33, 51 (pen.), Miccoli 48, 86, Hernandez 54, Pinilla 43, Forlan 90+1.

Referee: Matteo Brighi (Cesena).

Booked: Samuel 27, Julio Cesar 48, Zanetti 59, Acquah 61.
Added time: 1+4 minutes.


33 Tzorvas; 31 Pisano, 3 Silvestre, 8 Migliaccio, 42 Balzaretti; 90 Alvarez, 5 Barreto, 7 Della Rocca (46 Acquah), 72 Ilicic (69 Bertolo); 9 Hernandez (74 Pinilla), 10 Miccoli.
Unused subs: 99 Benussi, 2 Mantovani, 4 Cetto, 16 Zahavi.
Coach: Devis Mangia.

1 Julio Cesar; 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 4 Zanetti; 42 Jonathan, 5 Stankovic, 19 Cambiasso (71 Alvarez), 55 Nagatomo (62 Obi); 28 Zarate (34 Sneijder), 22 Milito, 7 Forlan.
Unused subs: 21 Orlandoni, 7 Pazzini, 23 Ranocchia, 30 Castaignos.
Coach: Gian Piero Gasperini.

In my opinion the blame for this defeat lies squarely at the feet of Gian Piero Gasperini, now don’t get me wrong unlike some Interisti I’m not yet saying he should be fired, I don’t even particularly have a problem with him experimenting with his 3 man defence during competitive matches, as it shows things that just don’t come up in training, but the second it becomes obvious it’s not working he needs to change the formation to ensure we are still getting the results needed and unfortunately last night he didn’t do that, he just had one thing on his mind and that was to attack with everything possible and don’t worry about the consequences it caused at the back. If you play with the intention of scoring one more than the opposition to get the win then you have to make sure that’s what happens not giving away needless goals just because you’re too stubborn to change things around.

Despite everything though there were a few positives, Milito seems to be back on form, his first goal in particular showing that he is still a great poacher playing right on the edge of the opponents defensive line ready to strike when the opportunity arises. One big surprise of the day for me was Jonathan who previously I thought was all hype, proved that he can be a very useful wingback for us and his skill, vision and movement he really did remind me of Maicon at his best. The 3rd positive thing that came from this match is something we all knew any way but Gasperini seemed oblivious to, that for Inter to be successful Wesley Sneijder has to be on the pitch, he has a way of filling his team mates with confidence just like in previous seasons both the Dutchman and Eto’o did. His vision and creativity is crucial for our squad, i’d even go as far as to say he’s the glue that holds our attack together.

The one big disappointment of the night besides the result was Zarate, as I said earlier I think that his nerves from playing his Inter debut got to him and he was looking completely lost at times, misreading his team mates intentions with passes and making the wrong runs, but he’s young and it was his first game for us so we can’t write him off yet. Now we must move forward and Gasperini must learn quickly from the mistakes made at Palermo to be ready for our Champions League game against Trabzonspor on Wednesday. Most importantly the results must start coming soon as the fans are already getting restless with Gasperini and it won’t take too many more bad results before Massimo Moratti starts to lose patience with him too.


About Don Nerazzurri

Huge fan of FC Internazionale Milano and founder of the Nerazzurri World blog, Inter is in my soul, cut me & I bleed black and blue! 'il Padrino' of the #InterFamily! C'e Solo l'Inter! Follow me on Twitter - @Don_Nerazzurri

Posted on September 12, 2011, in Serie A and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 6 Comments.

  1. Jonathan was the best player for Inter, but all in all Forlan was not ready. In fairness, he knows everyone expects him to replace Eto’o but he is not Eto’o and he has to learn to play his game. The form of Inter didn’t help. Lucio and Zanetti, hurt inter going forward since they only have 3 in the back and the midfield has work to do in linking up well with each other.

    • That was part of the problem when Forlan was out wide on the left, everyone was expecting him to be able to do what Eto’o used to do out there but he’s a center forward by trade so it obviously wasn’t going to work as well, if Gasperini wants to play him on the left he needs to make the forward line narrower. As for the defence they are too slow to be playing that far up field and needed to be a lot deeper to have stood any sort of chance! Still early days though so I’m sure this won’t be an issue for long 🙂

  2. Personally I thought with Pazzini and milito and zarate you have your forwards, Forlan and Sniejder can be huddled behind the forwards

    In all earnest, they should probably playa 4123
    cordoba, samuel, lucio, zanetti
    cambiasso in front of the defensive 4
    sniejder and forlan
    pazzini milito zarate up top

    maicon , thiaggo motto are hurt but with stankovic and nagatomo can come in and fill midfield and defensive spots

    In the run of play the problem is that going forward sniejder and forlan are similar creatures and when they play with milito the attack is very central. Not wide, pazzini and zarate have to provide that. Nagatomo I like for width but zanetti has to come off.

    if all players were healthy this is the 352(3322) I would see

    cordoba lucio samuel
    zanetti ,Thiaggo motto, nagatomo
    sniejder, forlan
    milito pazzini

    The coach wants the 352 to add in possession and get more constant pressure on opponents. Thiaggo motto to me seems slowed and might be best in a more defensive area to direct the forward push. nagatmo and zanetti can do the wing play, nagatomo will go deeper but zanetti will be a possible.
    and with those three snijder and forlan are pushed up higher for there strikes and passed to the forwards.
    In the run of play they can easily turn into a
    342 (3313) with sneijder or forlan taking a side
    I think maicon and lucio cant both play on a 352 because they both go forward, you saw when zanetti and lucio go forward the havoc it caused in serie a ,

  3. I recently stumbled on your blog and now have recently been looking at around. I thought I could truthfully get away from my own primary review. I am not sure things to mention except that I have savored scaning that which you many have got to declare

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