Serie A: Inter 5-4 Genoa, Epic debut for Stramaccioni
Just a week ago Stramaccioni was celebrating the Inter Primavera NexGen Series final win and now this week he’s in charge of the first team that has struggled for the last couple of months under the direction of Claudio Ranieri. Since the announcement by Massimo Moratti on Monday evening that the 36-year-old youth team coach was taking over as caretaker coach a new optimism has engulfed everyone associated with Inter.
With his humble but charismatic character he seems to have won over the changing room and with his background in charge of the Primavera squad there is a great expectation of him being the ideal person to phase out the older players in the squad and replace them with a selection of the most promising talents from both the first team and youth squads.
It came as a bit of a surprise though when the starting line up was announced and apart from changing to one of his prefered formations of the 4-3-3, not a lot seemed to have changed. As always Julio Cesar was chosen between the posts and as Maicon is still struggling with an injury captain Javier Zanetti was put in as right back. I was surprised to see both Lucio and Walter Samuel in the centerback positions as I was almost certain that Andrea Ranocchia would have been given a chance but instead he was placed on the bench, another surprise came with the inclusion of Cristian Chivu as left back instead of the benched Yuto Nagatomo. Out of the two Nagatomo would have been my preference, though I had really hoped to see Juan Jesus given his debut but the Brazilian defender didn’t even make the squad.
Fredy Guarin had been tipped to make his debut in this match but he started on the bench too and so our midfield consisted of Andrea Poli, Dejan Stankovic and Esteban Cambiasso. Again I ask the question I seemed to ask a lot from Ranieri, How the hell is Stankovic getting in to the starting line up? He was a great player I can’t deny that but as I’ve said before this season he has been close to useless!
I think Stramaccioni’s choice of the three forwards was more down to lack of choices than actually thinking they were the best choice. The attacking trident was spearheaded by Diego Milito with the disappointing Diego Forlan on the left and Mauro Zarate on the right after Inter’s new boss had stated he wanted to give the talented young Argentinian another chance in the squad.
The game kicked off and almost immediately it was apparent that the passion and drive that has been missing from the Nerazzurri for most of the season had returned in great style, the players actually looked as though they had a clue what their teammates were doing and passes were being completed time after time.
That being said Genoa had a few good chances in a period of good possession from Rodrigo Palacio and during a run of corners Cambiasso managed to clear a looping Giuseppe Sculli header off the line at the far post.
It took just 14 minutes for Inter to make the break through as Zarate cut in front of the box with the ball having great vision to spot Forlan out on the left side of the box, passing the ball perfectly for Diego to place a lovely dropping cross into the six yard box for the other Diego to head home past Sebastian Frey, First blood to Inter. As a true gentleman the scorer Milito refused to celebrate his goal against his former club.
Five minutes later Inter went close as Samuel knocked down a Lucio free kick that led to Cambiasso having a chance from a header that Frey managed to push away but only as far as Milito but ‘El Principe’ couldn’t get his volleyed shot on target.
Some disastrous defending by Genoa led to Milito’s second goal as he sprung the offside trap when the opposition flicked on the ball leaving him one on one with Frey, the Prince kept his nerve and placed the ball past the keeper with the inside of his right foot.
Inter’s third goal came from a well worked move from our two center backs, Lucio broke down the right flank before sending a low cross in to the six yard box which connected with Samuel who slid in and sent the ball into the back of the net.
At this point with Inter three goals up the game looked to be pretty much over and the first half hadn’t even finished! But Genoa had other ideas and after forcing Cambiasso to make another goalline clearance the ball fell for Sculli who showed his acrobatics by performing an overhead kick that ricocheted off Emiliano Moretti and past the wrong footed Julio Cesar. And so an exciting first half came to an end with Inter in control at 3-1.
The second half started with no changes to the players on the pitch and Genoa nearly clawed back another goal early on as Giandomenico Mesto’s cross was met by Gilardino at full stretch but he couldn’t get enough power to beat Cesar. This was shortly followed by a storming counter attack that forced Frey to palm away a powerful Zanetti shot from the edge of the area.
Back down the other end Genoa was awarded a penalty when Sculli’s header struck Zanetti’s outstretched arm in the box. Our captain was obviously unimpressed by the decision but what could he do? Rodrigo Palacio stepped up and put away the spot kick to claw back one making it 3-2.
By this point in the game Stankovic had been looking pretty tired for a while and was leaving an opening for Genoa to exploit through the middle so when Stramaccioni replaced him and gave Fredy Guarin his debut I was really happy to see that ‘Stramala’ unlike his predecessor, Ranieri, could actually see which changes needed making instead of just randomly choosing someone to come off and go on, which at times is what Ranieri’s substitutions felt like to me.
Cambiasso had another try at goal soon after with a lovely curling shot that went just wide, and Forlan sent another shot well off target from a Milito cross, which if he had hit right would’ve been unstoppable. 74 minutes had gone when Zarate cut across to the left side of the box with the ball and curled in a wonderful shot past Frey into the far bottom corner. With the score at 4-2 surely that was the game in the bag for Inter? Stramaccioni wanted to make sure and brought on the more defensive Joel Obi in place of Forlan.
The game was far from over though, and with eleven minutes to go, Palacio broke through in to the final third and got himself clear on goal Julio Cesar committed a little too much in taking the ball from his feet and inevitably tripping Palacio he gained himself a red card and gave the visitors another penalty chance. Gilardino stepped up and buried the ball into the bottom corner past the substitute keeper Luca Castellazzi who had come on in place of Zarate to fill the vacant spot between the posts. 4-3! All I could think at this point was “Oh no, we’re going to mess this up again!”
But five minutes later down the other end of the pitch, Genoa too were reduced to ten men as Belluschi brought down debutant Guarin in the box earning himself the red card and giving Milito the chance to secure his hat-trick from the spot. After his recent miss for the penalty spot the pressure to put this one away was evident on Milito’s face but he struck it well and left Frey rooted to the spot. 5-3, with our two goal buffer returned some of the worry of messing this game up was gone, but………………..
Another twist came on the 89th minute when Sculli ran into the box and was confronted by a clumsy high foot from Lucio leaving the referee no choice but to award the fourth penalty of the game, which Gilardino converted to make it 5-4 and all to play for in the three minutes of added time. That was how it ended though and Inter can be very happy with a hard-fought three points to put us on 44 points and up to seventh place one point ahead of Catania.
So how do I sum up this game? There’s only one word that I can think of “WOW!” It had everything, quality attacking play from both sides, good creativity to get the ball in to the box (something that has been sorely missing this season for Inter), nine goals, two sending offs and four penalties! Who says Italian football is boring and too defensive?
After the match technical director Marco Branca said in an interview for the Inter channel that he thought the penalties against Zanetti and Lucio shouldn’t have been given, and I do agree that Zanetti’s handball was unintentional but I thought Lucio’s tackle was too sloppy and the referee got the decision on that one right for me, to be fair the tackle on Guarin that resulted in Milito’s third goal appeared on the replays to be clean so I don’t think Branca can complain really as both sides got a penalty that maybe shouldn’t have been. While I’m on the subject of Branca, the Curva Nord Ultras had a message for Moratti that was clearly aimed at the technical director who has failed to impress the Inter fans over the last few transfer windows and is an indication as to the level of disappointment our fans have towards how the club is run by its board of directors.
So how did Stramaccioni do on his debut? I’d say given the short time he’s been working with the first team he has done exceptionally well, he seems to have brought back a unity to the squad and although it wasn’t a perfect display by any means it was a vast improvement on some of our recent displays. Our young caretaker coach didn’t look phased at any point in the game and from what I saw always looked calm, in control and tactically aware of what was happening on the pitch. All in all a great debut for the man we call ‘Stramala’
Our other debutant Guarin also put in a good show, he wasn’t spectacular to be honest but after not playing for months this wasn’t surprising, at times he took a few wild potshots on goal but I think he just wanted a goal to repay the support hes had from the fans. As many of you know I have criticized Zarate’s teamwork ethic in the past and although in this match he did occasionally have a few selfish moments where he took the ball a bit further than he maybe should have, I have to give him credit where it’s due, his work rate against Genoa was top-notch, he played some great passes like the one to Forlan that created the first goal and he more than deserved his goal when it came in the second half.
This was possibly our best performance this season, definitely the most enjoyable to watch. Stramaccioni should be proud of what he’s achieved in his few days in charge but a couple of the problems that have been plaguing Inter this season were still obvious, firstly despite his assist for the first goal and a few decent plays I’m still not convinced by Forlan, maybe italian football doesn’t suit him, but at Inter he seems more like the Forlan that flopped at Manchester United than the superstar of the 2010 Worldcup. The second problem is the usual of our central defence, both Samuel and Lucio are two of my favourite defenders of all time but game after game Samuel is proving too slow to be effective against most attacks and more importantly Lucio is becoming a huge liability in our backline with his rash challenges and forward runs. This for me is the main area Stramaccioni needs to look at and I feel now is the time to give Ranocchia a chance to prove himself and even promote the likes of Bianchetti from the Primavera squad to give them a competitive taste of first team action.
Things are starting to look up for the Nerazzurri and the last eight games of the season should give us an interesting insight in to what will hopefully become our future.
Follow me on Twitter: @Don_Nerazzurri
Posted on April 2, 2012, in Serie A and tagged Branca, Cambiasso, Castellazzi, Cesar, Chivu, Football, Forlan, Genoa, Guarin, Inter, Lucio, Milito, Moratti, Nerazzurri, Obi, Poli, Samuel, Serie A, Stankovic, Stramaccioni, Zanetti, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.