SerieA: Inter 2-1 Cesena Match Report by @siamak_j
On a sunny and pleasant Sunday afternoon in Milan, Inter scored two and conceded one as Cesena lost the battle on the Giuseppe Meazza. After having won in Udine in the mid-week fixture, the highly desirable third place in the Serie A was still reachable for Inter as Lazio surprisingly lost away to Novara. Before Sunday’s game, the Nerazzurri were on a string of five consecutive games without losing. A string of games that began when the up-and-coming Andrea Stramaccioni took over as the replacement for Claudio Ranieri on the Inter bench. Following the 2-2 draw in Rome between AS Roma and Napoli in the Saturday night fixture, Inter were fifth with 52 points earned, while Napoli were fourth with 55 points after 35 games – on the same tally as third placed Lazio, who played Udinese on Sunday night.
The referee for the day was Andrea Romeo from Verona. He did a good job and was more or less invisible, until the last moments of the game. Something I will return to later in this report.
The starting line-up for the day differed on three positions compared to the previous game against Udinese at the Friuli. Júlio César, Dejan Stanković and Diego Milito did not start the game, in favor of Luca Castellazzi, Joel Obi and Giampaolo Pazzini. The rest of the team was intact.
The game took off with both teams looking to break the deadlock. Inter, being the stronger side, also had the upper hand in this encounter. The ball possession and the main initiative were in the hands of Inter, while Cesena mainly tried to score through quick counter attacks and rapid switch-overs in the game play. It must be mentioned that Cesena played with great bravery and inspiration, despite the fact that they will not be playing in the Serie A next season.
In Inter, most attacks started at the feet of the offensive full backs Maícon and Nagatomo. Mister Stramaccioni had also ordered them to remain high up on the pitch in order to establish and maintain pressure on Cesena’s defense. The game play differed with how we have been accustomed to see Inter playing this season. Instead of long balls and hard crosses from box to box, Inter displayed a quick and technical style of play. Less dribbling, more movement and quicker, shorter passes on the ground (!) resulted in many opportunities to score in the first half of the game. Furthermore, there was a completely different attitude among the Inter players on the pitch – something very similar to good old fighting spirit. Each time the ball was lost to the opponents, or each the team was defending itself from Cesena’s counter attacks, there were immediately several Inter players surrounding the opponents, winning the ball back.
The best players in Inter during the first half were Joel Obi, Wesley Sneijder, Ricardo Alvarez and Esteban Cambiasso. Yuto Nagatomo and Douglas Maícon also deserve to be mentioned. Obi, Cambiasso and Sneijder worked very well, being able to transport the ball forward, with short and quick passes. Ricardo Alvarez shared the creative responsibility in front of Cesena’s defensive line with Wesley Sneijder. The two offensive midfielders collected and redistributed passes to the lone man upfront, Giampaolo Pazzini. Unfortunately for Pazzo, this was again just one of those days when nothing worked for him. He was served the ball on a few occasions, but failed to make an impact – either because he shot straight on Antonioli in Cesena’s goal, or because he simply could not time his through runs right. In the 22nd minute he had the best chance to score in the first half after receiving a pass from Maícon, standing free right in front of Antonioli, but his shot was blocked by the veteran goalkeeper. Pazzo had additional chances to score, but failed to do so today, much due to his inability to stay cool and to be at the right place at the right time. However, there were others who could, and perhaps should have scored as well. Sneijder had a free kick that flew inches over the crossbar, and Lucio had a massive shot on volley following a corner, which knocked Antoniolo in the face and kept him on the ground, right before the half time whistle was blown by referee Romeo. The first half remained goalless, despite several clear chances created by Inter.
The first half was very open and entertaining. Inter’s best players were Cambiasso, Sneijder, Alvarez and Obi. Cambiasso in particular played a key role on the midfield today, anchoring it well while controlling the press and initiating attacks with smart passes. The full backs did a decent job in the offensive play, but their passes were not managed well by the man upfront. Meanwhile, Cesena’s counter attacks were mainly carried out by Adrian Mutu, Luca Ceccarelli and Vincenzo Iaquinta, but Inter’s defense was never really put to the test.
The second half began with a more balanced display from both sides, and signs of the old Inter that we have seen earlier this season were reappearing. Inaccurate passes and carelessness with the ball by Inter almost resulted in a 0-1 shocker in the 53rd minute when Cesena managed to counter attack, allowing a shot in the crossbar by former Juventus striker Vincenzo Iaquinta. By far Cesena’s best chance to score in the game up to that point. But it did not take long before Cesena could break the deadlock though. In the 57th minute, Ricky Alvarez fell in Cesena’s penalty area, and when everybody was expecting the referee to award Inter a penalty, Cesena stole the ball and counter attacked. In a matter of seconds Luca Ceccarelli had fired a shot that Luca Castellazzi failed to block, leading to a surprising lead for Cesena.
Inter’s response came immediately. Right after the goal, Ricky Alvarez tried shooting from a distance, but failed, and shortly thereafter in the 59th minute, Obi took a shot from outside of the area. A loose and not very well directed ball. But the ball was deflected on the leg of Cesena player Steve von Berger, and took a surprising path before passing a chanceless Francesco Antonioli. The game was leveled and Inter’s efforts to score had finally paid off. Giampaolo Pazzini was subbed out right after Inter’s equalizer, and Diego Milito was brought on to try to make a difference. Even though Il Principe failed to score today, he is far more safe with receiving the ball outside the box, and he has the ability to create space for himself.
The Inter players kept finishing and shooting, as the Milanese side continued to push for an advancing goal. One of the most active players of the game, Ricky Alvarez was subbed out in the 67th minute of the game, and this had serious implications on the outcome of this battle. Mauro Zarate was brought on, and after five minutes on the pitch, he had turned the game around for Inter in the 72nd minute with a close range header. After the goal, Inter tried to retain ball possession, while still attempting to attack when possible. The game became less open and more physical, as more players were rolling around in the grass after tackles and collisions. Cesena did not manage to create anything substantial after Inter’s 2-1 goal.
The final whistle was eventually blown after four minutes of stoppage time. The game ended with Cesena being decimated on the bench during the final moments of the game as head coach Mario Beretta and one of his assistant were sent off – the second time this season for coach Beretta.
In conclusion, it was a very open and entertaining game – with a bit of drama occasionally. Inter won the game fairly and deserved all three points this afternoon. Several players played really well today, while others struggled without making an impact. Inter’s best players in this match were Joel Obi, Esteban Cambiasso and Ricardo Alvarez. Cesena’s best players were Luca Ceccarelli, Vincenzo Iaquinta and Francesco Antonioli. The Nerazzurri could have scored more goals, but inefficiency and a lack of sharpness in front of the opponents’ goal kept the score line down. Inter 2 – 1 Cesena. Inter up on 55 points equal to Napoli and Lazio after three new points, and an open run-up for the third place with only three games to go this season.
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Posted on April 30, 2012, in InterFamily, Serie A and tagged @siamak_j, Alvarez, Cambiasso, Castellazzi, Cesena, Football, Guarin, Inter, Lucio, Maicon, Milito, Nagatomo, Nerazzurri, Obi, Pazzini, Poli, Ranocchia, Serie A, Sneijder, Stramaccioni, Zarate. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.