It was approaching half time in a thrilling Derby Della Madoninna and Inter were leading their cross town rivals AC Milan 1-0 in front of a Stadio Giuseppe Meazza full of cheering Interista, when Kevin-Prince Boateng was allegedly taken down in the box by the on rushing Julio Cesar, the Nerazzurri goalkeeper received an unjust yellow card on his 300th appearance as replays showed that he reached the ball first.
Milan’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic stepped up to take the awarded penalty but Julio Cesar was in no rush to let him take it, taking a slow drink of water before strolling over to the Swede trying to psyche him out and getting right up into the ex-Inter striker’s face then walking slowly backwards to his goal line sticking his tongue out like he was performing the New Zealand rugby team’s Haka.
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All I can say is wow what a fantastic game! The Derby Della Madoninna is always an exciting and tense game between two of world football’s superpowers in the city that is known around the world as the capital of football but this one carried importance on so many levels. For Inter it was must win to stay in the chase for an European place, for Milan it was must win to take the title race with Juventus to the last day and for both clubs, as always, it was to determine who would have the bragging rights across the city of Milano and also the world.
The game didn’t disappoint either with six goals, three penalties, tension, passion and most importantly a derby double for the mighty Nerazzurri! This game will go down in football history as one of, if not THE greatest derby ever!
The week 36 game against Parma at the Stadio Ennio Tardini not only marks Andrea Stramaccioni’s first loss in charge of Inter but also brings to an end any hope of the Nerazzurri qualifying for next seasons Champions League. To be honest this was probably inevitable considering the form we’ve been in this season, we should just be thankful that we will be finishing in the top third of the table and hang on to the belief that we can claim a consolation of qualifying for the Europa League.
Despite this loss I still hold great faith in Stramaccioni’s ability to lead Inter and he should not be held responsible for this result, lets face it even Mourinho has lost matches he shouldn’t have in his time and so the responsibility for this loss sits firmly with the players and the defence in particular. I’m getting bored with saying this now as us Interisti identified the defensive line as our weak point at the start of the season yet nearly a year later we are still relying on Lucio and Walter Samuel to thwart the oppositions attacks, as shown in the last few weeks if there’s only one of them on the pitch alongside Andrea Ranocchia then it works enough for us to get the result but more and more commonly when both our aging central defenders are playing together we leak goals like a bucket with a hole in it leaks water. Don’t get me wrong I’m not saying Ranocchia is perfect but at the moment him or Cristian Chivu are adding a bit of much-needed security to our backline that Lucio and Samuel cannot offer anymore.
After the bore draw against Fiorentina last weekend Inter’s chances of securing the third place finish were almost finished but just a few days later the Nerazzurri proved their credentials by securing an important away win at the Stadio Friuli against Udinese. This combined with both Lazio and Roma losing their matches means that Inter are now in sixth place on equal points with fifth place Udinese, both having 52 points just three points behind third placed Lazio with both teams yet to play against the Biancocelesti in the last four games of the season.
A much needed win and it all happened in the first half of the match with Udinese going on the offensive from the kickoff they were rewarded early on when defender Danilo struck a wonderful shot from the edge of the area that flew past Julio Cesar and ricocheted off the upright to cross the line and put the Bianconeri ahead.
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.
After what could only be described as a disappointing draw last Saturday against Cagliari, Inter were back on the pitch just four days later, this time back on home turf of the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza and with only seven matches left this season everyone from Andrea Stramaccioni to the squad and the fans knew that to stand any chance of performing miracles and securing the targeted third place Champions League spot we had to secure a win.
The Nerazzurri didn’t disappoint, making it two out of three wins for Stramaccioni on the day our captain Javier Zanetti matched Dino Zoff as the third player with the most Serie A appearances with 570 with only former Inter goalkeeper Gianluca Pagliuca (592) and AC Milan’s Paolo Maldini (647) appearing more times than him, both of which are now retired.
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.
Inter’s week 29 2011/12 Serie A match away for the first time at the new Juventus stadium didn’t end as I was hoping it would. Even though I knew our chances in this match were slim at best, considering the difference in form this season between the Bianconeri and the Nerazzurri, I still held on to that faint glimmer of hope that Inter could be the first team this season to hand our old enemy a defeat.
Of course that was asking too much of Claudio Ranieri and our aged team and even though we didn’t manage to beat them we did put up a good fight and make them work hard for their win.
Ranieri opted for his 4-4-2 formation for the game with just two changes from the squad that flopped against Atalanta last week, bringing in Dejan Stankovic in place of Esteban Cambiasso and Diego Forlan partnering Diego Milito instead of Giampaolo Pazzini. New boy Fredy Guarin made another step towards his debut and was picked to sit on the bench as one of the back up brigade.
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After Inter’s superb win against Chievo last Friday evening and with Marseille losing yet again in their own league the stage was set for the Nerazzurri to turn around the 1-0 first leg defeat. The plan was to show the French side the strength and resolve that Inter has to turn around results like these in front of a packed Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, using the same lineup that produced a winning display in Verona Claudio Ranieri expected his squad to come out fighting and take the game to the visitors.
The reality though was that from the kickoff Marseille looked as though they weren’t happy to just defend their one goal aggregate lead and wanted the away goal to sure up their position ahead of Inter. Less than ten minutes in to the game it looked like Inter would level things off as captain Javier Zanetti took the ball in to the box cutting it back for Wesley Sneijder who just had to chip it in to a fairly open net but instead he hit it low straight in to the goalkeepers body much to the surprise of everyone watching the match.
What a great week it has been for me and all Interisti, starting with the 2-2 comeback last week against Catania where we started to see sparks of the Inter we all know and love, then in the midweek I was honoured and proud to see that both Bedy Moratti & Inter themselves had mentioned Nerazzurri World on Twitter. Then as we celebrated Inter’s 104th Birthday the Nerazzurri secured their first win since the Lazio game back on the 22nd January.
This game saw the return of both Dejan Stankovic and Maicon to the starting line up and Claudio Ranieri opted for another try with the 4-3-1-2 formation. the lineup was fairly unsurprising with him going with our strongest back four of Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Yuto Nagatomo. The three man midfield consisted of Javier Zanetti, Dejan Stankovic and Andrea Poli, personally I would’ve left Stankovic out and brought in Marco Davide Faraoni to play on the right with Zanetti in the center but I’m not Inter’s head coach so we have to respect Ranieri’s decisions. The attack was exactly as I would’ve chosen with Wesley Sneijder behind the partnership of the two Diegos Forlan and Milito, this set up works well in my opinion as Forlan can drop deeper and wider to create more chances for Milito unlike Giampaolo Pazzini who like I’ve said many times is too similar to ‘El Principe’ and is purely a box player.