UCL: Lille 0-1 Inter, Nerazzurri top table in Group B
Despite the ongoing crisis of confidence in Serie A, Inter managed to secure another three points in the Champions league in their away game to Lille and probably more importantly for the confidence of the squad they kept a clean sheet which is something that they have struggled to do for a long time now. So now half way through this season’s group stage the Nerazzurri sit at the top of their group with six points from three games.
It was a fairly cool evening in France as the teams took to the pitch with the temperature down to 10°C and the game will go down in Inter’s history as ‘il Capitano’ secured yet another honour to add to his long list as he made his 100th appearance in the Champions League. The team took to the field in their white away strip and lined up in quite a defensive 4-3-1-2 formation with Nagatomo and Maicon as fullbacks and Chivu covering for the injured Samuel alongside Lucio in the center of defence. The midfield was made up of our three experienced defensive midfielders Zanetti, Cambiasso and Motta with Sneijder who returned from injury playing in the hole behind the strike patnership of Zarate and Pazzini.
FIRST HALF –
The match got under way and the first chance went to Inter when Sneijder took a free kick in the third minute which although it was on target caused little trouble for the Lille keeper Enyama. Five minutes later Pazzini sprung the offside trap and got in to the area only for Chediou to get back in time to take the ball from him.
Lille’s wonderkid Eden Hazard was the man to give the French side their first chance when he fired in a low shot at Inter’s goal only to see it turned behind by Chivu. Just one minute later came the first and only goal of the match when playmaker Sneijder turned his man and played a lovely ball out to Zarate on the left where the Argentinian almost ran the ball out of play before pulling back a great cross for Pazzini to volley home.
The goal seemed to wake Lille up and they responded with two attempts in as many minutes thanks to Joe Cole and Eden Hazard, both attempts causing the Nerazzurri defence to clear their lines with some difficulty. On the 27th minute Cole had another chance after beating a couple of Inter players and firing a shot that Lucio managed to get a block in on.
Ten minutes before the end of the half Zarate’s pacey dribbling left Lille’s Debuchy in his wake and he hit a powerful shot goalward for Basa to deflect over the bar. A couple of minutes later down the other end Cole played a beautiful ball behind the Nerazzurri defensive line for Sow to pick up on but luckily for Inter Julio Cesar was alert enough to smother the ball at the striker’s feet.
A couple of yellow cards were issued around the 41 minute mark as Chivu received one for a mistimed sliding challenge on Mavuba and then soon afterwards Chediou was booked for his persistant fouls on Pazzini. With the first half coming to a close Zarate found himself through on goal only for the play to be called back for an offside which to me looked close but perfectly legit, and so after a minutes stoppage time the first half ended with Inter looking the stronger of the two sides.
SECOND HALF –
The second half nearly started with disaster for Inter as Nagatomo’s sloppy backpass played in Sow but luckily Julio Cesar managed to rush out of the box and take the ball from the striker. A few minutes later Sow again tested Julio Cesar as his shot from the edge of the area was clawed away by the Nerazzurri shotstopper at full stretch.
Lille continued to pile on the pressure but Inter’s back line was holding firm, and on 62 minutes Pedretti played a great ball to Balmont who close range shot was blocked superbly by Lucio. A minute later both teams made changes with Pedretti leaving the pitch for Payet and Zarate was replaced by Obi turning Inter’s formation in to a 4-4-1-1 with Pazzini up front alone.
The Lille substitute wasted no time making an impact and tested Julio Cesar with a curling shot from outside the area which yet again Cesar was more than a match for, Ranieri then made another defensive minded substitution as he replaced Sneijder with Stankovic changinging the formation again this time to a 4-5-1 which in my opinion left Pazzini lost at sea up front and it was Payet again for the French side that made another attempt which this time was blocked by the Inter rear guard.
Stankovic came close to doubling the Italians lead on 72 minutes when he conected with Maicon’s pass but it was tipped over the bar by Enyama. On 79 minutes Lille made another change as Joe Cole was taken off and replaced with Obrianiak just before Julio Cesar made another intervention to stop Sow yet again. In the last ten minutes both coaches made their final changes as Ranieri brought on Milito for Pazzini and Garcia brought on Gueye for Balmont.
Lille continued to press for the remainder of the match and it nearly paid off for them in stoppage time as Hazard sent in a cross to the far post where yet again the Brazilian shotstopper palmed it behind while Maicon and Basa collided with the Lille player hurting himself as he crashed into the upright. And so the Champions League match day 3 fixture finished with Pazzini’s 21st minute goal being decisive.
Lille 0-1 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorer: Pazzini 21.
Referee: Howard Webb (England).
Booked: Chivu 41, Chediou 43, Thiago Motta 51, Pedretti 55.
Added time: 1+4 minutes.
16 Enyama; 2 Debuchy, 25 Basa, 22 Chediou, 18 Beria; 4 Balmont (5 Gueye, 81), 24 Mavuba, 17 Pedretti (7 Payet, 63); 26 Cole (11 Obrianiak, 74), 8 Sow, 10 Hazard.
Subs: 30 Mouko, 11 Obrianiak, 14 Rozehnal, 21 Bonmart, 27 Jelen.
Coach: Rudi Garcia.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 26 Chivu, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 19 Cambiasso; 10 Sneijder (5 Stankovic, 67); 7 Pazzini (22 Milito, 81), 28 Zarate (20 Obi, 63).
Subs: 12 Castellazzi, 16 Caldirola, 42 Jonathan, 48 Crisetig.
Coach: Claudio Ranieri.
So Inter managed to overcome the crisis they are facing in Italy and get a much needed three points and the confidence that comes with it, but that doesn’t mean that the Nerazzurri are back to there old selves, in fact they are far from it, in my opinion we were lucky in this match that Lille were having a bad day and not playing to their usual standard. A stat I saw near the end of the match showed that Lille had 62% of the possession compared to a miserable 38% that Inter had, this is no where near good enough for a team of Inter’s level and against a tougher opponent we would have been massacred.
On the plus side Julio Cesar had a fantastic game and even though he had just come back from injury he was looking very confident and impressive, another factor to our clean sheet was the fact that Lucio actually stayed in position and did his defensive job instead of running up field and leaving our back line vunerable. And of course with the return of Sneijder we finally saw our team link up well and get the creativity we have been lacking for the last few weeks which just confirms what Moratti said about him being indispensable, I am just thankful that we didn’t sell him during the summer or the mess we’re in could’ve been a lot worse.
Hopefully this win will bring the confidence and spark back to our great team and we can start to rebuild the damage done in the league starting with our next game at the weekend against Chievo, we just need to hold on to the faith we have for Inter and remember that despite everything it’s still early in the season, we are still in the running for all competitions and we all know Inter will fight till the very end.
Posted on October 19, 2011, in UEFA Champions League and tagged Cambiasso, Cesar, Champions League, Chivu, Football, Inter, Lille, Lucio, Maicon, Milito, Motta, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obi, Pazzini, Ranieri, Sneijder, Stankovic, Zanetti, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.