UCL: Inter 2-1 Lille, The Nerazzurri continue dominance of group B
Life for Inter at the moment is anything but ideal in Serie A this season but in contrast the Nerazzurri have been flying high in the UEFA Champions League group stage, this in itself is quite unusual as for the past number of seasons including 2009/10 when we won the competition Inter have struggled throughout the group stages and in some cases only managed to qualify on the last game. Many people may put this down to the fact that Group B this year is one of the weakest with Inter being the biggest stature club by quite a long way, but you have to consider some of the teams that have defeated us in the league that have much less quality than the other three clubs in our group, so to me this implies that the Inter players are going in to the UCL games with a completely different frame of mind than they are in the league.
What’s the reason for this? Only the Inter players could tell you that for definite, but I believe that it’s down to the fact that the Champions League is arguably the most prestigious competition not only in club football but also world football and to do well in this competition shows the world that you are one of the elite, this is all well and good but we need to transfer this passion, belief and drive to win to our league campaign too otherwise we don’t stand much chance of finishing in the top three to ensure we are here next season. Anyway I’ve gone of on a tangent here so back to last nights match and after Saturday night’s defeat to Juve Ranieri and the boys had a point to prove and that’s exactly what they did.
FIRST HALF –
Ranieri again stuck with his favoured 4-3-1-2 formation and with Samuel and Motta available again he dropped Nagatomo and Obi from the starting lineup with Chivu moving to left back and Zanetti covering right back for the injured Maicon. Motta reclaimed his place in the three man midfield with Stankovic in Zanetti’s usual spot, while up front saw Zarate paired up with Milito, Lille players Basa and Balmont weren’t available so they stuck with their attacking trio of Cole, Sow and Hazard.
It took Inter just 40 seconds to show their intent as Chivu played a long ball from within our own half which found ‘El Principe’ with just Landreau to beat and with the outside of his boot he flicked the ball over the Lille keeper’s head only to see in come back off the woodwork, that in my opinion should have been 1-0 to the home side and the Milito of old would have buried it.
The fifth minute saw a penalty appeal correctly turned down as Zarate was brought down in the box by Rozenhal, Stark let the play continue and replays showed that the Czech midfielder did indeed play the ball. Zarate had a chance denied three minutes later and then the French team went on the offensive starting with a shot by Pedretti on nine minutes that went wide.
After Samuel’s foul on Jelen Hazard had a chance from the resulting free kick but thanks to a block by Cambiasso’s face it went harmlessly behind for a corner, the French attack continued and 17 minutes in Sow was denied by a well placed Zanetti on the far post. A minute later it seemed Zarate had broken the deadlock but the ball took a fortunate deflection off Landreau sending it behind for a corner.
The resulting corner did indeed put Inter in front as Sneijder whipped it in Samuel towered above the crowd in the box to head it home much to the delight of the home crowd. Minutes later Hazard went looking for the equaliser but Castellazzi dived to punch the shot clear.
With five minutes of the first half remaining Cambiasso set up the first of two opportunities Zarate had with Landreau saving the first easily then rushing off his line to beat our forward to a dangerous ball. As half time approached Jelen found himself in the clear on goal but Castellazzi saved and the relief was obvious around the Meazza, after just one minute of stoppage time the first half ended with the Italians a goal ahead and feeling confident.
SECOND HALF –
Lille made the only half time change with De Melo coming on for Jelen. Three minutes after the restart Sneijder won a free kick that found Stankovic who nodded it down to Milito who from just five yards out and in front of an open goal managed to send it sailing over the crossbar! UNBELIEVABLE! How on earth can a striker of Milito’s experience and calibre miss a sitter like that?
On the 54th minute Interisti hearts were in their mouths as Rozehnal pounced on a rebound from a free kick but luckily for Inter the shot was way off target. Our captain Javier Zanetti was outstanding int his match as he was a barrier all over the field and with his relentless running he sent in a wonderful cross from the right wing which found Milito and this time our Argentinian finisher managed to do the job and put it away to put the Nerazzurri up by two goals to nil. Milito was clearly emotional about his goal as he thanked both Zanetti and all the Inter fans with a tear in his eye.
The 67th minute saw Ranieri yet again take Sneijder off the pitch and replace him with Ricky Alvarez who after Hazard saw his inch perfect free kick denied by Castellazzi in the 72nd minute, recieved the ball from Zarate (Wow! Zarate actually pass the ball! i’m shocked!) dribble past two defenders and unluckily saw his shot fly inches over the cross bar. This is what I love to see from Ricky and the reason I feel he will be a great player for us in the future.
Just before 80 minutes were up Ranieri made his second change which was, surprise surprise, Pazzini on for Zarate. I really don’t understand why our coach keeps insisting on making the same changes every single game and I know i’m not alone when I say that I’d like to have seen Pazzo come on for Milito so Pazzini and Zarate could play up front together.
Minutes after the change saw Lille pull a goal back as once again confusion in our defence involving Lucio, left Lille substitute De Melo with a simple tap in that he couldn’t miss. Obi replaced Milito on the 90th minute and ‘El Principe’ left the pitch to a standing ovation. (This to me wasn’t really justified as although he scored our second goal he did miss at least two opportunities that even I could have buried).
So the match ended with Inter taking the three points and the other group B match between Trabzonspor and CSKA Moscow ended scoreless so the Italian giants sit at the top of the table with nine points (depressingly one more than we’ve got in Serie A) and one step closer to qualifiying for the knockout rounds.
Inter 2-1 Lille (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Samuel 18, Milito 65, De Melo 85.
Referee: Wolfgang Stark (Germany).
Booked: Beria 86, Samuel 89, Rozehnal 90+1.
Added time: 1 + 4 minutes.
12 Castellazzi; 4 Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu; 5 Stankovic, 8 Thiago Motta, 19 Cambiasso; 10 Sneijder (Alvarez 67); 28 Zarate (Pazzini 79), 22 Milito (Obi 90).
Unused subs: 21 Orlandoni, 23 Ranocchia, 42 Jonathan, 48 Crisetig.
Coach: Claudio Ranieri.
1 Landreau; 2 Debuchy, 22 Chedjou, 14 Rozehnal, 18 Beria; 27 Jelen (De Melo 46), 24 Mavuba, 17 Pedretti; 26 Cole (Payet 71), 8 Sow (Obraniak 60), 10 Hazard.
Unused subs: 16 Enyeama, 5 Gueye, 6 Souaré, 9 De Melo, 21 Bonnart.
Coach: Rudi Garcia.
So after the disaster that was the Derby d’Italia Inter have come back out fighting as always and despite being a bit of a laughing-stock in the league we are still managing to hold our own in the Champions League for now, though I do worry that once we get to the knockout stages the bigger teams we’ll face could destroy us in a similar way to what Shalke did last season, I just hope Branca and co spend wisely in January to strengthen our shaky defence and importantly take in to consideration who will be cup tied for the knockout rounds. Until then Inter must battle on and take one game at a time starting with Genoa on Sunday and hopefully by the time our next Champions League fixture on the 22nd of November comes around we’ll be in a better position.
Posted on November 3, 2011, in UEFA Champions League and tagged Alvarez, Cambiasso, Castellazzi, Champions League, Chivu, Football, Inter, Lucio, Milito, Motta, Nerazzurri, Obi, Pazzini, Ranieri, Samuel, Sneijder, Stankovic, Zanetti, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.