SerieA: Inter 2-1 Lazio, unimpressive Nerazzurri snatch win to move up to fourth
After last weeks fantastic derby win and Thursday’s cup win over Genoa Inter’s confidence was high coming in to this weekend’s game against Lazio who sat just one point ahead of us in fourth place and it was this fact that made this match a must win affair. The Nerazzurri came through and secured the fourth place spot but it was a hard-fought battle with the Biancazzurri and it seemed to me that the pressure of moving up a place in the table and keeping the pressure on the front-runners was affecting the players more than they would have liked.
Inter’s passing, movement and general game play throughout the match was disjointed, sloppy and lacked any real confidence or commitment. Lazio aways looked the most likely to score and their veteran Tommaso Rocchi’s goal came as no real surprise to either side’s fans.
FIRST HALF –
Ranieri started the game with his usual 4-4-2 formation bringing back Cristian Chivu in the left back position along side Lucio, Walter Samuel and Maicon on the right. The midfield saw Yuto Nagatomo moved forward in the formation which I’ve said for a long time would be a more suitable position for the quick Japanese player, but it was never going to be that simple for Ranieri and he placed Nagatomo on his weaker right side instead of on the left where he could have covered the bumbling Chivu. The wide left position went to Ricky Alvarez who in my opinion should have been sat in the center behind Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Milito. The center of our midfield was held by ‘il Capitano’ Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso, Thiago Motta missed the game due to suspension and Wesley Sneijder started on the bench much to the surprise of some.
Before the warm up Javier Zanetti took a bunch of flowers to the blue section first tier in memory of Roberto Straccia, the missing lad from Pescara whose body was found on the Bari coastline.
The scrappy nature of the game was evident after just sixty seconds as André Dias received a yellow card for what looked like a sneaky punch on Pazzini. This definitely wasn’t the tidiest game ever and Lazio’s high pressing was forcing Inter in to giving the ball away far to easily.
Chivu’s free kick in the 12th minute found Nagatomo in space but he was closed down quickly forcing him to pass the ball on to Alvarez who also was closed off the ball. A minute later the Argentine found himself in space as a bad Lazio clearance dropped nicely in front of him and his resulting half volley was just inches high.
Inter got a lucky break in the 14th minute as Rocchi broke free of the Nerazzurri defence and with only Julio Cesar to beat was unable to punish the home team with his shot rebounding back off the post. Six minutes later Milito got forward and whipped in a cross but the target Pazzini was unable to connect with his head, then not long later Maicon played a lovely long ball that Pazzini latched on to but as he bore down on the goal he was shut out by the double team of Dias and Giuseppe Biava.
Lazio finally broke the deadlock on the half hour mark when Hernanes fed a lovely weighted ball in to the box for Rocchi to run on to and fired in to the opposite corner of the net, there was no real surprise that Lazio got the opening goal as they were looking the most organised and dangerous up until this point. Inter though battled and five minutes later Alvarez chipped the ball over the defence for Nagatomo to latch onto but Federico Marchetti rushed off his line and smothered the ball before Yuto could get to it.
Just before half time the in form Milito returned the game to an equal standing as he played a wonderful one two with Alvarez who returned the ball through a tight space in the box for ‘il Principe’ to drill home from close range. So half time arrived with the scores level at 1-1 with Sneijder warming up on the sidelines, bringing hope for me that Ranieri would play him and Alvarez behind a single striker
SECOND HALF –
Both coaches made changes during the break with Ranieri bringing on Sneijder and Joel Obi for Alvarez and Chivu, as much as I was glad to see him take Chivu off I thought that Alvarez should have stayed on the pitch but what do I know? Edoardo Reja brought on Matuzalem for Hernanes on the Lazio side of the pitch.
The second half started very sedately with nothing really happening until the second Inter goal in the 64th minute, the ball just getting caught up in a very sloppy midfield battle where both sides were making mistakes and losing the ball all over the center of the pitch. Eventually the goal came for Inter though when Lucio played a long ball forward which fell perfectly for Pazzini on the edge of the box for him to flick a lob over the head of Marchetti, a beautiful goal that was later surrounded by controversy as Pazzini appeared to be offside when Lucio played the initial pass, this was only really visible on the replay and was so tight no one could have seen it live, so maybe he was but I’m happy for the goal to stand 🙂
A minute after Rocchi and Klose combined to make a dangerous charge on the Inter goal but the German’s shot was saved comfortably by our Brazilian keeper. Sneijder showed why he’s such a threat when on the 67th minute he sent a vicious long-range drive that Marchetti only just managed to tip over the bar.
After that the only other real chance of the match was when Ledesma sent a piledriver shot just inches over the Nerazzurri bar a minute in to injury time. Two minutes later referee Rizzoli blew his whistle for the final time and Inter take fourth place with 35 points just six points behind league leaders Juventus.
Inter 2-1 Lazio (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: Rocchi 30, Milito 44, Pazzini 64.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Bologna).
Booked: Dias 1.
Added time: 1+3 minutes.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 26 Chivu (Obi 46); 11 Alvarez (Sneijder 46), 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 55 Nagatomo; 7 Pazzini, 22 Milito (Faraoni 70).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 18 Poli, 23 Ranocchia, 28 Zarate.
Coach: Claudio Ranieri.
22 Marchetti; 78 Zauri (Cissé 73), 20 Biava, 3 Dias, 26 Radu; 19 Lulic, 24 Ledesma, 15 Gonzalez (Konko 66); 8 Hernanes (Matuzalem 46); 9 Rocchi, 25 Klose.
Unused subs: 1 Bizzarri, 5 Scaloni, 21 Diakité, 29 Konko, 81 Del Nero, 99 Cissè.
Coach: Edoardo Reja.
A hard-fought win for ‘il Biscione’ and as Ranieri said in his post match press conference we were lucky, we weren’t playing as the team we were in the last six games and if we are really to have a chance to fight for the Scudetto we need to play a hell of a lot better. For me no particular Inter player stood out for good or bad in this match, all of them were fairly disappointing but I will say it’s great to see Sneijder improving more to return to his old form but apart from an occasional spark of inspiration I felt that Alvarez is having more of an influence in our attack recently.
So now we move on again to Napoli in the Coppa Italia on Wednesday and then we’re away at Lecce next Sunday as we continue our greatest season comeback of all time.
Follow me on Twitter: @Don_Nerazzurri
Posted on January 23, 2012, in Serie A and tagged Alvarez, Cambiasso, Cesar, Chivu, Faraoni, Football, Inter, Lazio, Lucio, Maicon, Milito, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obi, Pazzini, Ranieri, Samuel, Serie A, Sneijder, Zanetti. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.