SerieA: Lecce 1-0 Inter – Nerazzurri drop to fifth as chance for third is wasted
The mood coming in to the week 20 match at the Stadio Via del Mare against Lecce was positive as third place Udinese had lost to league leaders Juventus meaning that if the Nerazzurri repeated their home result of 4-1 against struggling Lecce again we would move in to third place ahead of Udinese by goal difference, the reality was very different though with the fans positive mood not seeming to be shared by the squad.
After the mid-week defeat against Napoli in the Coppa Italia it was widely thought that the Lecce match was a great opportunity to bounce back with a win and carry on our great run of league results, but Lecce had other ideas.
Claudio Ranieri’s team for this clash took to the field in a 4-3-1-2 formation with Julio Cesar in goal behind Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Yuto Nagatomo in the defensive line. The three-man midfield contained a surprise as not only did the usual defensive midfielders Javier Zanetti and Esteban Cambiasso start but where everyone expected Andrea Poli to start of the left side we saw the more attack minded Joel Obi line up. Behind the usual strike partnership of Giampaolo Pazzini and Diego Milito, Wesley Sneijder made his first start since his injury back at the end of October.
Despite this being an away match for Inter we played in our home colours of their black and blue shirts with our unlucky white shorts ( I realise it’s nonsense but there is a growing feeling amongst the fans that we always play badly when we wear the white shorts instead of the black ones) while Lecce wore their yellow and red shirts with blue shorts. Before the match started a minute of silence was observed in the memory of former Italian President Oscar Luigi Scalfaro.
FIRST HALF –
The Nerazzurri kicked off in the heavy rain of southern Italy, and both sides made the game look more like an amateur Sunday league game for the first ten minutes as they misplaced pass after pass, but eventually Lecce got the first break on goal but Nagatomo closed down Juan Guillermo Cuadrado as he dangerously moved in on goal.
It didn’t take long after that for Inter to try to stamp their authority with Milito stealing the ball from Maximilian Benassi but from the impossible angle all ‘il Principe’ could manage was to scratch the paintwork of the goalframe, Sneijder jumped on the follow-up but his shot was saved by the Lecce keeper.
In the 19th minute Lecce’s Muriel Luis Fernando found himself one on one with Julio Cesar after a quick counter attack from a wasted Inter chance down the other end of the pitch. Four minutes later Lecce were on the counter attack again with Cuadrado finishing it off with a powerful right footed shot that just whistled past Julio Cesar’s left upright. Inter responded again on the 25th minute when Sneijder stole the ball from the Lecce defence and used his skill to slip through their defensive net and was unlucky to see his curling shot go slightly too high over the far post.
Inter’s best chance of the game came on the half hour mark as Sneijder took a corner that found Samuel in the box who made a perfectly timed jump to dangerously head the ball towards the bottom corner of Benassi’s net only to see the keeper dive at full stretch to push it out for another corner.
Benassi made another fantastic diving save on 32 minutes when Pazzini supplied by Cambiasso drove his shot across the box towards the far side of the goal. Less than ten minutes later Lecce took the lead even though Inter were looking the most dangerous of the two teams, a cross from ex AC Milan player Massimo Oddo came from 40 yards out and lady luck smiled on the home side as the ball bounced kindly for Guillermo Giacomazzi who controlled it with his chest before slipping it past Julio Cesar. Two minutes later the luck switch over to Inter as Julio Cesar managed to save an almost certain goal from Muriel. As the half was drawing to a close the referee Banti booked Lecce’s Cuadrado as he fouled Obi.
In injury time came an incident that resulted in a verbal clash between Pazzini and Sneijder as Obi sent the ball in to the box where Pazzini volleyed the ball well over the bar but Sneijder wanted him to pass it back where the Dutchman was in space, words were exchanged between the two and Pazzini was clearly seen to say to Wesley “Vaffanculo” (See video below and decide for yourself whether Pazzini was right to take the shot) I think he was! Then after two minutes injury time the half finished with Lecce in the lead 1-0.
The first half of the game came as a huge surprise for me as I had expected a fairly easy win for Inter but the confidence and the killer spark seemed to be missing. I also felt that Obi was having a bad game mainly due to the fact he was playing too deep and in my opinion Ranieri needed to change him for Poli at the restart.
Also Wesley Sneijder was disappointing for me with him not looking anywhere near as dangerous as we know he can be, whether this was down to a lack of fitness or if it’s because he’s losing his passion for the Nerazzurri remains to be seen.
SECOND HALF –
The second half started with Ricky Alvarez replacing Sneijder and Ranieri reverted back to a 4-4-2, the Inter coach in his post match interview claimed it was done to give us more control on the pitch but I think it had a lot to do with Sneijder’s run in with Pazzini. It was the Argentinian playmaker’s corner on 51 minutes that gave Samuel another headed chance but it rebounded back in to play from the post, the ball wasn’t cleared effectively and soon returned in to the area where Cambiasso headed it in to the back of the net. As I was celebrating drawing level again referee Banti disallowed the goal as Cambiasso was offside and this was the point that I realised this wasn’t going to be Inter’s day.
Alvarez blasted a shot from outside the area which only just went wide,and with just over 25 minutes to go the desperation for a goal was starting to show for the Nerazzurri as they pressed forward but their rushed build up play and lack of accuracy gave the Lecce defence time to regroup and keep control at the back without too much trouble.
Alvarez had another shot denied on the 67th minute as Benassi punched away his curling shot and a minute late Muriel was booked for diving at the other end. The 71st minute again had me jumping up from my chair in celebration as Alvarez played a corner to Pazzini who rose and headed the ball to Cambiasso who in turn played it to the far post where Milito was waiting to put it in the back of the net only for this goal to be called offside again!
Both coaches decided to bring on fresh players with less than 20 minutes to go, Serse Cosmi opting for Haris Seferovic in place of Muriel, while Ranieri again baffled me and other Interisti by taking off Obi but not for Poli as any one else would but instead bringing on out of favor loanee Mauro Zarate?!? A couple of minutes later Cosmi also replaced their goal scorer Giacomazzi with Christian Obodo.
Even with less than five minutes to go the Inter players didn’t give up hope and Maicon whose influence had been severely lacking for the entire game hit a powerful shot from outside the area which caused Benassi some problems and it took the Lecce keeper two attempts to save it. Then in the closing minutes Benassi was called on again as Pazzini hit an inch perfect header which to me and everyone watching looked to be on its way to the back of the net.
The last real action of the game came down the other end as Julio Cesar turned Di Michele’s shot around the post for a corner that came to nothing. So after four minutes of injury time Banti called an end to the game and Lecce take the three points from their first home win of the season.
Lecce 1-0 Inter (HT: 1-0)
Scorer: Giacomazzi 40.
Referee: Luca Banti (Livorno).
Added time: 2 + 4 minutes.
Bookings: Cuadrado 43, Muriel 68, Olivera 78.
81 Benassi; 30 Oddo, 13 Miglionico, 40 Tomovic; 7 Cuadrado, 18 Giacomazzi (8 Obodo 78), 26 Blasi, 10 Olivera, 28 Brivio; 24 Muriel (11 Seferovic 73), 17 Di Michele.
Unused subs: 25 Petrachi, 16 Diamoutene, 21 Grossmuller, 22 Piatti, 91 Bertolacci.
Coach: Serse Cosmi.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 25 Samuel, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 20 Obi (28 Zarate 72); 10 Sneijder (11 Alvarez 45); 7 Pazzini, 22 Milito.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 2 Cordoba, 23 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu, 18 Poli.
Coach: Claudio Ranieri.
A truly wasted opportunity for Inter this weekend which has instead of seeing us rise to third place saw us drop back to fifth behind Lazio. Even though Inter’s performance was lacklustre and had no real spark between the players, it has to be said neither did Lecce and for me all the credit for their win has to go to the fantastic performance by their keeper Benassi who was outstanding throughout this match and for me was the man of the match.
The Lecce match proves that the Inter that was in crisis just a couple of months back is still evident despite our recent run of victories and I’ve got concerns that even though there was talk of bringing in the needed players there has been pretty much no movement in this transfer window. The other concern I’ve got is with regards to Sneijder and I know a lot of Interisti won’t agree with what I’m about to say but I’m going to say it anyway –
Our good run of form started when Sneijder was injured and since his return our results have been on the slide again, this may be a coincidence but I don’t think it is when you consider that he spent most of the summer and the first half of the season courting Manchester United, then if you look at his temperament in the last two games, he showed his bad temper in the mid-week game against Napoli and gave away a freekick and again in this match he lost his temper with Pazzini after the Italian striker did what any striker would do. Also in yesterday’s post match interview he said he’s going to be having words with Ranieri over his half time substitution which makes me think that he either is very unhappy in his role playing for Inter or his ego is getting too big and he thinks he’s more important than any other player in the squad. What is clear is that he is not playing or behaving like the Wesley Sneijder we all know and love.
Regardless of what has happened this week with our two defeats Inter must not dwell on it but move on, train hard and take the rest of the season one game at a time, even though finishing in the top three is our only realistic target the squad must play like they believe they can snatch the title out of both Juventus & Milan’s hands otherwise we’re going to end up finishing in mid table obscurity.
Follow me on Twitter: @Don_Nerazzurri
Posted on January 30, 2012, in Serie A and tagged Alvarez, Cambiasso, Cesar, Football, Inter, Lucio, Maicon, Milito, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obi, Pazzini, Ranieri, Samuel, Serie A, Sneijder, Zanetti, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.