SerieA: Fiorentina 0-0 Inter, Cesar saves penalty and the day
The Serie A week 33 match against Fiorentina at the Stadio Artemio Franchi was Inter’s first since the untimely death of Piermario Morosini last weekend and before kickoff both teams stood united in a minute silence to honour his memory.
This was really a must win match for Inter if they were to keep up the pressure on finishing in the last Champions League spot of third, and everything seemed to be in their favour as Fiorentina have had an even more disappointing season than that of Inter, finding themselves sitting on the edge of safety down the bottom of the table. Inter also were handed the advantage that the Viola were without key players like Amauri who was suspended and Stevan Jovetic who is injured, not only that for reasons unknown to me, Fiorentina coach Delio Rossi decided to have Riccardo Montolivo on the bench instead of on the pitch. This combined with the fact they were playing two teenage and fairly unexperienced center backs meant that Inter started the game with a huge advantage over the home side.
With the return of Maicon and Wesley Sneijder to the squad, Andrea Stramaccioni decided to mix up his formation and started the match with my favourite 4-2-3-1. Julio Cesar as usual took up his position in the goal behind our defensive line which consisted of captain Javier Zanetti at leftback, Cristian Chivu was in his prefered left centerback role standing in for the injured Walter Samuel, Lucio took up his usual place as the right hand centerback and Maicon as rightback, this defensive line against Fiorentina highlights Inter’s problem of our defenders being too old as the youngest of our starting defenders was Maicon at 30 compared to home side’s defence that included two 19 year olds.
Ahead of the defence Stramaccioni opted for a mix of experience and youth calling upon Esteban Cambiasso and Andrea Poli to provide the link between defence and attack while also providing extra cover for the back line. The width and creativity of the formation was provided by Mauro Zarate on the left flank and Ricky Alvarez on the right with Diego Forlan sat behind our lone striker. Personally I thought it would’ve made more sense to play Forlan out on the right with Alvarez playing as trequartista but in my opinion Stramaccioni played it this way due to having in mind that Sneijder would eventually come on in place of Forlan and by playing Diego in the center it would cause the least disruption when the change eventually came. At the spearhead of the formation was Diego Milito who after scoring 18 goals in his last 18 games was set to cause the Viola defence problems throughout the game.
The game itself turned out to be disappointing for both Fiorentina and Inter with the Viola having precious little of the possession at 34%. They still find themselves too close to the relegation zone for comfort. Inter too won’t be happy with how the game went and despite having a controlling 66% possession they only managed to get four out of 13 shots on target.
In the first half Inter were forced to play up wind as strong gusts blew through the Stadio Artemio Franchi giving Fiorentina an added boost to their forward movements as was evident when early on in the game Andrea Lazzari tried an ambitious effort from inside his own half which was carried by the wind to finish just off target, this actually turned out to be one of the home sides best chances of the game.
Just before Lazzari’s long-range effort Forlan had taken a shot on goal that was stopped easily by Artur Boruc. In this game Forlan failed to impress me yet again and even though he completed a few passes and had one or two shots on goal the amount of stray passes he made were just embarrassing. Considering he was playing in the trequatista role he wasn’t really contributing anything of great value to the team and many times his lack of communication with his team mates meant that balls were played to where he should have been but he’d already made a run in a different direction. I realise that Forlan is a great player but like his time in the English Premiership with Manchester United, it is becoming more and more apparent that he doesn’t suit the style of play in Italy.
Zarate showed his skill off on the left flank in the 25th minute as he dribbled past the Viola defence and got a shot on goal only to see it go wide to the right of Boruc. I’m still not convinced by Zarate’s teamwork ethic but I have to admit he is proving to be very useful under the guidance of Stramaccioni and if in the summer Inter could secure him on a cheap deal he might be worth taking a chance on, but definitely not at the 15 million Euros that is reportedly Lazio’s asking price.
The 42nd minute saw the Nerazzurri’s wandering centerback Lucio on the attack before going down in the box after slight contact by Matija Nastasic, but the referee Paolo Valeri just waved him back to his feet. The look on Lucio’s face after the incident showed that he only went down because he knew that he wasn’t going to get past the young defender.
One decision I didn’t quite agree with came just before half time when Valeri issued two yellow cards after Nastasic brought down Milito with an elbow in his back, the Inter striker was understandably furious about the challenge but the referee just saw this as dissent and issued cards to both players. Valeri in truth was a bit card happy in this match producing a total of eight cards throughout the game with only two or maybe three being truly justified in my opinion.
The second half started with Yuto Nagatomo taking to the field in place of Zanetti in the left back position as Inter’s captain was feeling some muscular discomfort and Stramaccioni felt it wasn’t worth the risk to keep him on the pitch. Two minutes after the restart Zarate went on another of his selfish runs taking the ball to a shooting position only to waste the chance by sending it over the bar.
The 54th minute finally saw Forlan leave the pitch with Wesley Sneijder replacing him. It’s good to see that Stramaccioni can see what changes need to be made on the pitch and so far in his time as Inter coach I’ve agreed with pretty much all his substitutions unlike his predecessor Claudio Ranieri who at times seemed to just pick players at random to sub.
The 68th minute saw what was to be the most important moment in the entire game when Lazzari latched on to a through ball and was clear on goal, Julio Cesar had no option but to come off his line, stretching to try to take the ball from the attackers feet somehow though he managed to miss the ball and instead brought down Lazzari. Valeri didn’t hesitate to point to the spot and award the tenth penalty of the season against Inter and Cesar received a yellow card for his troubles, to be fair it could have been worse and he could have been sent off. Adem Ljajic stepped up to take the spotkick but Inter’s Brazilian keeper was more than capable of stopping what was in truth an awful attempt, though out of the nine shots on goal Fiorentina had this was the only one on target.
Fiorentina had one more chance to take the lead when Nastasic chested down the ball from a corner but he could only fire it over the bar. Another injury scare for Inter came in the 82nd minute when just as Stramaccioni was about to bring on Giampaolo Pazzini he was forced to change his decision and bring on Andrea Ranocchia for Chivu who signalled that he couldn’t continue.
In the remaining ten minutes Inter went on an all out attack with everyone looking for the winning goal, Zarate’s left footed shot in the 84th minute was stopped by Boruc, Nagatomo made a fantastic storming run a minute but instead of laying of the ball in the box he took a shot that hit the side netting and in the 88th minute Milito could have laid off a great ball to either Sneijder of Zarate in space at the edge of the box but instead he performed a fantastic shot on the turn just to see it fly straight into Boruc’s hands, and so the game ended in an uninspiring 0-0 draw.
With five matches left this season Inter are still sitting in seventh place with 49 points still six points behind Lazio in third place. Is third place still a realistic target? To be honest I’m not sure but while it’s still possible on points I will continue to hold on to the hope that we can do it. If we can secure the win against Udinese on Wednesday afternoon it will take us to equal points with the Udine side who are currently sitting in fourth which is the Europa League qualifying spot so even if we don’t finish the season with the Champions League qualifying third place I feel the Fourth place spot is more than achievable as long as Inter play all the remaining games as though they are in a Champions League final. You never know the Nerazzurri might just scrape something out of this disastrous season!
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Posted on April 23, 2012, in Serie A and tagged Alvarez, Cambiasso, Cesar, Chivu, Football, Forlan, Inter, Lucio, Maicon, Milito, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Poli, Ranocchia, Serie A, Sneijder, Stramaccioni, Zanetti, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.