No one can deny that the start of the 2011/12 season has been a disaster for Inter with them sitting in the relegation zone at a lowly 18th place with just 4 points from a possible 18 making this possibly the worst ever start to a league campaign in our club’s history. This got me thinking as to who should take responsibility for this disaster? Is it the coaches? The players? or even our beloved President Massimo Moratti? Well in my opinion it’s yes, yes and yes they are all to blame and have contributed to us being in this position.
I then started to think am I the only Interista that thinks this so I decided to ask the Inter Family on Twitter and Facebook to see what the general opinion was and the responses I received proved that there are many issues affecting Inter at the moment, fellow Nerazzurri World writer Hadibase wrote the article Blame the Management: The downfall of Inter Milan in which he gives his opinion on what’s gone wrong.
A completely sold-out Stadio Olimpico hosted two sides who had never met before in the final to determine the winner of the 63rd edition of the Coppa Italia. Eto’o gave Inter the lead with a cool finish in the 26th minute, following Sneijder’s perfectly weighted through ball. In the 76th minute, precisely the same combination sent the Nerazzurri fans wild with joy, as Inter placed a firm grasp on the cup. An eventful finale awaited, though, as Munoz pulled one back for Palermo on 88 minutes, before Milito stroked home two minutes into added time to seal the win. The Nerazzurri now have a seventh Coppa Italia to add to their trophy cabinet, and can count 15 trophies won in the last 7 years.
The president of the Italian Senate, Renato Schifani, handed over two trophies: the Coppa Italia to captain Zanetti and the cup to celebrate the 150th anniversary of Italian unification to Marco Materazzi.
Scorers: Eto’o 26 and 76, Munoz 88, Milito 90+2.
Booked: Acquah 27, Munoz 53 and 90, Carrozzieri 68.
Sent off: Munoz 90.
Added time: 1+5 minutes.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel.
Unused subs: 99 Benussi, 4 Kasami, 11 Liverani, 36 Darmian.
Coach: Delio Rossi.
With Julio Cesar, Sneijder and Cambiasso all sidelined, Leonardo picked Castellazzi in goal with Stankovic playing right from the kick-off, making up the midfield along with Zanetti and Thiago Motta; Milito started on the bench so, playing in front of Kharja, were Pazzini and Eto’o (in the Cameroonian’s 100th match in Italy). For Catania, with Maxi Lopez unavailable, Schelotto, Bergessio and Gomez took over the attack. The Nerazzurri wore their white away-strip and former player Simeone received applause before Pierpaoli whistled to start the match.
Kharja was the first to come close to scoring after only 8 minutes as he picked up a ball from Chivu and sent it crashing against the bar with a hard right-footed shot from outside the area. A minute later Nagatomo crossed from the right into the middle of the penalty area, Eto’o got a foot to it and Kharja managed to control, but in the confusion Alvarez succeeded in clearing on 9 minutes. Once again however, it was Pazzini who put Inter into the lead as he notched up his 10th goal in a blue and black shirt. Eto’o found Thiago Motta whose back-heeled pass resulted in a clash between Potenza and Kharja, with the Nerazzurri winning the ball and setting up Pazzo.
He had no trouble at all leaving Campagnolo stranded as he struck the ball confidently to make it 1-0 to Inter in the 15th minute. On 27 minutes, following a wonderful pass by Stankovic, Eto’o brought Campagnolo into action again as he saved his curling right-footed shot. The Cameroonian popped up again one minute later as he shot from outside the area, but the ball went high over the crossbar. Pierpaoli’s whistle on 46 minutes sent the teams into the dressing rooms with the score at 1-0 in Inter’s favour.
SECOND HALF –
The second half got underway with Milito in attack in place of Eto’o and it was the Prince who broke away on the right and laid off an inch-perfect pass across the box which found Pazzini ready and waiting to fire into the net right-footed and put Inter 2-0 up. Catania began to react and on 55 minutes Bergessio’s shot from the edge of the area found Castellazzi ready to parry the ball away for a corner-kick.
The final day of the 2010/11 league season was also to bring glory to Nagatomo who made it three in the 63rd minute, as he scored his second ever goal for the Nerazzurri, after his first in Genoa v Inter. Picking up a pass from Lucio, his shot took a slight upward deflection off Terlizzi as it sped diagonally across the box into the back of the net.
Catania got back into the match in the 66th minute when Ledesma scored following a corner taken by Lodi. But Inter continued to dominate. Chivu, after being set up by Nagatomo, tried to catch Campagnolo unawares with a header in the goalmouth, but the Sicilian goalkeeper was equal to it and turned the ball away for a corner on 68 minutes. In the 69th minute a controversial episode, when Terlizzi and Materazzi made contact, could have led to a possible penalty for the Nerazzurri, but Pierpaoli waved play on.
In the 70th minute all of the Stadio Meazza rose to welcome a visibly-moved Walter Samuel back onto the pitch and it was a matter of minutes before “the Wall” narrowly missed a chance from a Kharja corner and Milito didn’t manage a match-winning deflection on 71 minutes. After 2 minutes of added time Inter v Catania ended with a score of 3-1 to the Nerazzurri. Inter thus closed their league campaign with a total of 76 points and second place in the table. Next target for Inter is the Coppa Italia: see you at the Stadio Olimpico on 29 May.
Inter 3-1 Catania (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Pazzini 15, 48, Nagatomo 63, Ledesma 66.
Added time: 1 + 2 minutes.
12 Castellazzi; 55 Nagatomo, 15 Ranocchia (25 Samuel 70), 6 Lucio, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta, 5 Stankovic (23 Materazzi 56); 14 Kharja; 7 Pazzini, 9 Eto’o (22 Milito 46).
Unused subs: 21 Orlandoni, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 27 Pandev, 29 Coutinho.
Unused subs: 1 Kosicky, 13 Izco, 15 Morimoto, 18 Augustyn, 20 Martinho.
Coach: Diego Simeone.
“Twelve home wins in a row means lots of things: points on the board, consistency, and the fact that the team has been able to produce. But the satisfaction lies more in what we have achieved than in the record itself.” That was how Leonardo replied, after the 3-1 win over Catania, when reminded of the Nerazzurri’s 12 consecutive home wins with him in the dugout.
“Staying in control of the game at a slow pace wasn’t easy,” he added. “It wasn’t easy but the players did really well. There were lots of positives today and Inter are definitely on the up. Overall it’s been a positive season, although there’s still one game left and it’s a really important one for us. What we have achieved since 6 January has been great – the only major disappointment are those four damned days. But now we have to focus on the Coppa Italia final, which is a big target. The image of the winning team will remain in people’s minds because it is the last match of the European season. Are Palermo tough opposition? They did very well in the first part of the season and have been less consistent since then, but they have great qualities as a team and as individuals.”
Naturally, the coach was also asked about possible transfer deals: “We’ve got to the point where the transfer market permeates everything. I think this team just needs a few minor adjustments to be competitive on all fronts. The core of the team is there and it’s what gives this group its spirit, so that shouldn’t be touched.”
Leonardo also spoke about Walter Samuel, who was acclaimed by the Meazza crowd when he came on: “Today he gave us a further sign that that everything is going well.”
“We wanted to round things off with a party atmosphere by doing as well as we could, and I think we did that with a great performance today. It’s what we needed to help us go into next week’s final on top of our game.” Speaking to Inter Channel, Javier Zanetti analysed the game that ended Inter’s Serie A 2010/11 league campaign. It was also the prelude to what will be the Nerazzurri’s most important match of the season: the Coppa Italia final. Inter’s opponents in next Sunday’s final, Palermo, were beaten by Chievo today, and Zanetti was asked if he thought their defeat could have a bearing on next week’s game. “No, because it’s a final and both teams will be giving it their absolute best.”
Nagatomo scored a lovely goal to cap a fantastic performance against Catania. “I find it very easy to play alongside Yuto,” the captain continued. “He has lots of qualities and I don’t know how many times he managed get free and put in perfect crosses.” Is he left- or right-footed? “No one seems to know but anyhow I’m very pleased for him because he’s settled in really well and has become an important part of this team.”
Rational and focused – would that be a fair description of the way Inter played against Catania today? “The main reason we needed a performance like that was to go into next Sunday at our best,” explained Zanetti. “A game which, I repeat, is very important to us so that we can round off the season raising another trophy.”
Giampaolo Pazzini spoke to Inter Channel after hitting a double against Catania, which took his tally for the Nerazzurri to eleven: “I’m really happy with this win, with my brace and with these first few months I’ve spent here at Inter – I feel as if I’ve settled in perfectly. There are lots of world-class players at this club and doing well here gives me great pride and makes me happy. I was desperate to show what I can do and I think I’ve done that. What counts now, of course, is keeping it up. Next year we’ll start the season with even more enthusiasm.”
Asked which of his eleven goals for Inter is his favourite, Pazzini replied: “The second goal against Palermo, which levelled the score at 2-2. It was my debut and that goal meant a lot.”
What about next week’s final? “I’ve only taken part in one Coppa Italia final, and unfortunately we lost on penalties. I want to make up for that next Sunday.”
“I’m very happy, but more for what the whole team did today. I’m really pleased with my goal – my second at the Meazza – and the warmth of the crowd and my team-mates was touching.” After his stunning strike against Catania, which put Inter 3-0 up, Yuto Nagatomo told the Japanese journalists about how he felt after his first four months playing for Inter by giving himself a mark: “I’d say 6/10 because I still have learn and improve lots of things. I’m aware of that and it’s something I will strive to do.
“Am I right- or left-footed? I feel comfortable on the right or on the left, wherever Leonardo needs me. I’ll make whatever sacrifices are necessary to help him and the whole group.”
With Inter ending the season in second place, Nagatomo admitted that “Of course I would have preferred to be first because always want to win, but we finished second and we still have a cup final to play.”
A huge grin spread across his face when he was asked about his goal: “How did I score it? I shot… and the ball went in.”
Finally, Nagatomo reminded everybody about the important event taking place tomorrow afternoon in Perugia – a friendly match to raise funds for the city of Sendai. “I will be there and Materazzi will be with me.”
Walter Samuel spoke to Sky Sport Italia after the Inter v Catania match, clearly moved by the affection the Meazza faithful showed him when he made his entrance as a second-half substitute: “It was a wonderful moment, a great feeling to see all the people that have been so supportive to me – my family, the president, who has said such kind things about me, Leonardo, who brought me on. I hope I can always be of assistance to the team, maybe even in Rome. I’m pleased and proud to be part of this group. It was tough for me being on the sidelines for so long but I’m happy now.”
Happy Easter to all Interista, and to make the weekend more special Inter managed to claim all three points from Lazio even though we were down to 10 men with goals coming from Sneijder’s 4th of the season and Eto’os 33rd. The downside is after Julio Cesar’s red card it means we are without our first choice keeper for the next game on the bright side its against Cesena. The other piece of bad news is that Stankovic had to go off with an injury. Milan beat Brescia with a late goal to put them back to 8 points ahead though with Palermo beating Napoli we have gone above them to reclaim 2nd place, which if we end up finish there I will be happy considering the bad season we’ve had.
It was end-to-end play in the first half at the Stadio Meazza, with Lazio taking the lead in the 24th minute when Zarate scored from the spot, after being pulled down in the area by Julio Cesar, who was subsequently sent off to leave Inter with ten men. Milito paid the price and was taken off to make way for Castellazzi. They may have been inferior in number, but by no means in spirit and the Nerazzurri equaliser came eventually. On 40 minutes Sneijder made it 1-1 with a perfect free-kick which was out of Muslera’s reach. Then it took a classic super-Eto’o run to leave Dias and Biava for dead before dribbling around Muslera to put Inter 2-1 up in the 8th minute of the second half. Mauri received his marching orders in the 22nd minute of the second half bringing the teams back to ten men apiece.
First half –
To take on Lazio, Inter had Eto’o back in the line-up and Leonardo positioned him alongside Milito, playing in front of Sneijder who liaised between the attack and midfield, while Pazzini started on the bench. For the Biancocelesti, Zarate and Floccari made up the attack. The fans, who are twinned, dedicated the pre-match choreography to the memory of Gabriele Sandri.
Zarate was the first to try out his boots with a long-distance right-footed shot which Julio Cesar punched away two-fisted, before Nagatomo made the final clearance in the 5th minute. From the same position at the other end, one minute later, Eto’o responded with a curling shot off his right instep but it flew wide of the mark. Then the Cameroonian was speeding towards goal once again, only to be intercepted by Floccari who pulled him down at the edge of the area. Morganti decided it wasn’t a foul and Lazio started off again. Zarate showed he could be dangerous in the penalty box on 15 minutes as jinked his way past Maicon and then Lucio, leaving Ranocchia’s timely intervention to save the day. Eto’o passed to Stankovic who was looking for his first goal against his old side and his shot, from well out, sped over the bar after 19 minutes.
After only 22 minutes’ play, Inter were down to ten men when Julio Cesar was sent off. The Brazilian keeper came off his line to take on Zarate who was looking like scoring and seemed to have made contact. Morganti was in no doubt and pointed to the spot, from which Zarate duly scored, 0-1. Milito too, paid the price when he was taken off to allow Castellazzi to take over in goal. Inter were in no mood for giving up though, and it was up to Sneijder to find the equaliser. He tried with a free-kick which Ranocchia almost got to, forcing Dias to concede a corner on 26 minutes and with a low, hard, right-footed effort which Muslera needed all his skill to save on 28 minutes.
He finally managed to break through after 40 minutes. Bresciano had fouled Eto’o just outside the area and the Dutchman stepped up to curl the ball over the wall, into the top left-hand corner of the net, out of the Biancoceleste keeper’s reach and brought the teams level at 1-1.
Morganti signalled two minutes of added time, but Lichtsteiner had time enough to find Floccari with an inch-perfect cross and it was only Nagatomo’s timely interception that prevented it from reaching the net. In the clash Castellazzi took a nasty knock on the right leg.
Second half –
The second half got underway without any changes being made to the teams, however after 7 minutes Stankovic pulled up with muscle problems and had to be taken off with Mariga coming on in his place. It was beginning to look like yet another unlucky day for the Nerazzurri, but then Eto’o popped up to change the face of the game.
He picked up a through ball from Zanetti perfectly and capitalised on Biava’s slip to dribble past Dias. He took the ball wide of Muslera and slotted it home with his left instep to put Inter into the lead at 2-1. In the 13th minute Lucio missed Lichtsteiner’s cross and Floccari was unmarked in front of goal, but the ball ended up in the side-netting. Leonardo asked Sneijder who wasn’t fully fit to make the sacrifice, but it was Eto’o who gave the ball away in midfield and the equaliser was looking very much on from Zarate’s volley, but he didn’t managed to put it away with only Castellazzi to beat. In the 21st minute Nagatomo fouled Mauri who reacted and kicked out at the Japanese defender, sending him reeling. He was shown the red card and that evened the numbers at ten men apiece. On the half hour mark, Lazio came close to equalising once again. Brocchi crossed and Zarate chested down only for Kozak to smash his shot against the bar.
Inter came back though and Zanetti laid off a perfect ball for Maicon who was only denied by Muslera’s superb save. Morganti indicated that there were five minutes of added time to play, but Inter kept their wits about them as they tried to make it three. This wasn’t to be but they did pick up the three points to take them onto 66 and back up to second place behind AC Milan.
Inter 2-1 Lazio (HT: 1-1)
Scorers: 24 Zarate (pen), 40 Sneijder, 53 Eto’o.
Referee: Emidio Morganti (Ascoli Piceno).
Booked: Garrido 38, Leonardo 42, Zarate 50, Mariga 62.
Sent off: Julio Cesar 22, Mauri 66.
Added time: 2 + 5 minutes.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic (17 Mariga 52); 10 Sneijder (20 Obi 78); 22 Milito (12 Castellazzi 23), 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 7 Pazzini, 23 Materazzi, 26 Chivu, 27 Pandev.
86 Muslera; 2 Lichtsteiner, 3 Dias, 20 Biava, 14 Garrido (9 Rocchi 81); 23 Bresciano (32 Brocchi 71), 24 Ledesma; 6 Mauri; 8 Hernanes; 10 Zarate, 22 Floccari (18 Kozak 70).
Unused subs: 12 Berni, 5 Scaloni, 15 Gonzalez, 81 Del Nero.
Coach: Edoardo Reja.
Leonardo was unsurprisingly extremely satisfied after Inter’s 2-1 win against Lazio: “It was a special win today: down to ten men, a penalty and a goal behind, so to win in this way was an immense achievement. It was game won by everybody giving everything. Now we need to keep stringing these results together; that’s all that counts. Just look at how some of the other games have gone today.”
The Nerazzurri coach was asked about the future of this Inter team: “Now is not the time to be thinking about the future. It’s been a strange season, the team’s rhythm has been broken up by lots of injuries and also by the change of coach, but the team’s heart has always been there. This side is built on firm foundations and those will remain, but of course you can always improve. However, as I said, we mustn’t be thinking about the future now: we have the run-in to concentrate on. My own future? My relationship with Inter has never changed; it’s just the same. So I’m not worried about that. All I’m thinking about is the end of this season and concentrating on our achieving our goals. I have an agreement with the club and I’m working to reach the team’s targets. Really, nothing has changed since 6 January. I’m just going forward and working for the good of Inter. I’m not going to put my own situation before that of the club or the team. I have an agreement and I’m very happy here. Everything is clear and we have a great relationship, and I hope that will always remain, with the same enthusiasm as there was at the start. I want to win, I’m spurred on by enthusiasm, I’m getting to know the squad better and better and so I’ll go on like this.”
Finally, Leonardo was asked if he still hoped Inter could win the Scudetto. “Honestly, yes…” the coach rounded off with a grin.
Fresh off the pitch, Javier Zanetti commented on Inter’s hard-fought win over Lazio, speaking to Sky Sport Italia: “This win was down to the whole team, a match we won with character. This is a team that never gives up and everyone could see that. We beat a tough Lazio side and after everything that happened. We’re really pleased.”
Esteban Cambiasso commented on the win over Lazio: “There was a point when everything seemed stacked against us but we didn’t lose our heads. We stayed calm and did everything we could to get back in the game. And we managed it. This group is compact and you can see that. We’re able to come up with lots of different solutions, as we proved again today. That’s a great resource.”
“That was a fantastic game; it was incredible to come back like that,” declared Luca Castellazzi. “Despite the pain in my thigh,” he continued, “I’m really very happy. We found the strength we needed and we showed great belief to respond in that way. We needed that result against a direct rival. The greatness of a group can also be seen in times of difficulty, and we are a great group. A group with immense qualities.”
“It wasn’t easy going behind with a man down but the team responded superbly. I thought the players were a bit tired but they made up for their understandable fatigue with their character. The team were always in the game physically and that’s something that will be important over the remaining games.” Speaking to Inter Channel, president Massimo Moratti commented on how his Inter team performed as they came back to win against Lazio after Zarate had put the visitors in front from the spot. “It was a demonstration of our strength on many levels: we saw a team that played their football intelligently without panicking, because at no point did they lose their heads or were they out of the game. That’s a big plus in a team of champions like this. There are reasons why this side has won everything over the last five years, and that is one of them.”
Thanks to the results in the other games played so far in Serie A Week 34, Inter’s league position already looks better, sitting as they now are in second place. “If we hadn’t had that terrible week we’d be in a different situation now – which just goes to show that defeats in this period can prove crucial even for sides that haven’t been struggling for the previous five or six months. This is a tough league. As things stand we’re second, unfortunately some way behind AC Milan, but we’ll try to defend our position and see how it ends up.”
The president was asked to rate Yuto Nagatomo, a player who combines physical strength with tactical awareness and a great sense of humour: ” He’s a smart lad because he’s learning things every day and putting into practice really well what he’s being taught in a new team. He also knows how to create space and defend well: usually when you have a pacy full-back everyone assumes they are good going forward but not much cop defensively, yet he is a fantastic full-back; he intercepts balls played into the box for the opposition’s forwards. He has lots of qualities and he has opened the door to Eastern football for us, which is brimming with talent.”
What does president Moratti expect from his Inter team at the end of this season? “I wasn’t demanding too much from them all because I think they have given and continue to give a lot. However, I do expect – and I hope we don’t have to sweat too much – to qualify for the Champions League.”
Inter played exceptionally well and didn’t lose their heads when Julio Cesar was sent off and for a change I get my pre match prediction right! So with 4 games to go we’ve got ourselves back in 2nd which realistically is the best we can hope for this season but you never know the 8 points Milan have over us is still achievable with a lot of luck. Either way everyone at Inter and all us Interista can hold our heads high.
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
Leonardo’s Press Conference
“Lazio remain Lazio: player by player, they’re a great team, really competitive. It wasn’t easy for them to push on after last season but they’ve managed to. They have done really well and they are in good form.” That was what Leonardo had to say about Inter’s opponents today, in the Serie A 2010/11 Week 34 fixture that will be played at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan’s San Siro district (15:00 kick-off).
A journalist then asked the coach to speak about the club’s targets for the rest of the season: “In the league, it’s difficult to think that we can make up 8 points in 5 games, but we’ll try to win all our matches anyway. We’ll try to maintain consistency in our performances and in our results so that we can do as well as we can. Then there’s the Coppa Italia. What about the risk of finishing fourth? At the moment we’re third and our only target is to win all our games. We’re only thinking about that.”
So that’s the Nerazzurri’s target, which will have to be achieved despite the tiredness of the players. “It’s normal to be tired in this period, it’s the same for everyone, but it needs to be analysed well. We didn’t look tired against Roma, did we? That means the team is capable of digging deep and that’s what we’ll try to do from here until the end. It wasn’t easy in the cup down in Rome but the team did really well. In football there are defeats that aren’t decisive and others that are – and unfortunately we’ve had a few of those. But the players have shown many times that they know how to respond to them, just as they have this time.”
The Nerazzurri coach is then asked about Giampaolo Pazzini’s barren streak: “A striker is dependent on the way the team moves and plays, so his form is always a result of many things. There’s no problem with Pazzini.”
Inevitably the transfer market was brought up, with another question about Ganso, Santos’ exciting young talent: “So much has been written about that but we have never made a move for him. I have been in personal contact with him for a long time, that’s all. The time for talking about transfers is not now and no attempt has been made. At the moment there is no offer, no plan, no specific idea.”
So what will the Inter of the future look like? Who will be coming and going ahead of next season? That was another question put to Leonardo. “This team was doing fantastically well until three weeks ago. I don’t think we really need to be worrying about the future and what Inter will become, at least not now. At the moment nobody is thinking about who is going to be leaving.”
Quizzed on his own future, the coach replied: “I’m not the sort of person who thinks about these things. I can’t be worrying about what will be in the future because I’m focused on what I have to do now, starting with Lazio.”
“Just because of two games we lost we are reading a lot of crazy things in the newspapers but they are coming from outside, not from the club. We have no problems at all and we are convinced he’s working very well.”
Paolillo then went on to say that Inter won’t start making provisions for 2011-12 until this term comes to an end.
He said: “Planning for next season hasn’t begun yet. We have to examine the situation just after the end of the season, not now.”
He obviously hasn’t been watching very closly recently because anyone can see Leo isn’t up to the job, that said though he’s just trying to smooth everything over until the end of the season because we know that Inter are thinking about changes as Moratti himself has admitted to talks about signing Carlos Tevez so hopefully this statement is just to make Leo feel safe before he gets the boot at the end of the current season, fingers crossed!!!
“They must rebuild for the next campaign and get back to winning ways, because it remains my Inter.
“President Massimo Moratti and his collaborators are very smart and Leonardo is a coach who can go far.
“What counts now is securing second place in Serie A and winning the Coppa Italia.”
So it looks fairly clear that even with his affection for us he won’t be returning any time soon and he to thinks Leonardo will be staying!
Inter finally got the result they needed after 5 losses in a row, which puts them in a strong position to progress to the final after the second leg at the Guiseppe Meazza on the 11th May. Dejan Stankovic was the man to get the goal for the Nerazzurri with another superb long range effort from outside the box on the stroke of half time, this was in fact his 2nd goal of the game after his first got ruled out by a questionable refereeing decisions in the opening minutes. Both sides had their chances in the second half but the scoreline of 0-1 stayed the same. Inter looked by far the stronger side throughout the game but even saying that they were still no where near the level we know they are capable of, this win should however give them the confidence to finish the season on a good note, hopefully!!! My one criticism of the match was the fact that Leonardo paired Milito up front with Pandev instead of Pazzini the subbed Milito for Pazzini which is a shame as i was looking forward to seeing how Milito & Pazzini would play together but to be fair Pandev had a good game, he didn’t score or have any particularly good shots on the goal but he did work hard bringing the ball into attack.
FIRST HALF –
Leonardo went with Lucio and Ranocchia at the heart of the Nerazzurri defence, flanked by Maicon and Nagatomo; there was experience aplenty in midfield with Zanetti, Cambiasso and Stankovic, while Sneijder began in the hole behind strike pairing Milito and Pandev.
The Nerazzurri felt they had been hard done by once more in the 17th minute, when De Rossi’s handball in the box went unseen by the referee. Lucio then had a header saved by Doni after 21 minutes before the Brazilian centre-back returned to doing his day job down the other end five minutes later, denying Perrotta with a fantastic acrobatic interception following Cassetti’s cross. And he showed his worth again around the half hour mark with another timely tackle at full stretch to take the ball away from Borriello, a minute after De Rossi had fired an effort over.
Sneijder had another sight on goal in the 43rd minute but was unable to hit the target. Stankovic, however, definitely had his shooting boots on this evening and gave Inter the lead with an absoluter stonker of a goal: as the game ran into first-half stoppage time, the Serbian picked up Cambiasso’s pass 25 yards out and struck a thunderous right-footed effort with the outside of his boot that curled into the top corner leaving Doni with no chance. After a minute’s added time, the sides headed into the dressing rooms with the Nerazzurri a goal to the good.
The second half began with the same twenty-two and tensions soon began to rise, Vucinic lashing out at Lucio with an elbow that was missed by the referee. With 53 minutes on the clock, Roma almost found themselves two goals down: Pandev met Stankovic’s cross from the right and nodded goalwards, the ball came off Cassetti’s back and Doni went walkabout; Sneijder played the ball back towards the empty goal only to see Cassetti hack clear with Pandev ready to pounce. The home side went close themselves in the 64th minute, when Perrotta was inches away from connecting with Taddei’s cross. Stankovic called another handball by De Rossi in the box after 71 minutes, but the claims again fell on deaf ears. Sneijder went for goal once more with 10 minutes remaining and this time his cross hairs were centred but Doni was alert to it.
Roma upped the pressure as the game entered the final stages: Vucinic kept trying to find a way through and kept being shut out by the Nerazzurri rearguard. Then, in the 89th minute, Pazzini had a glorious chance to possibly put the tie beyond Roma’s reach when Sneijder picked out his run behind the defence, but Doni did well to close down the angle. In injury time Vucinic again went looking for an equaliser, with Maicon on hand to snuff out the danger this time.
Roma 0-1 Inter (HT: 0-1)
Scorer: Stankovic 45.
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Bologna).
Booked: Taddei 5, Maicon 14, Burdisso 51, Ranocchia 57, Sneijder 59.
Added time: 1+4 minutes.
32 Doni; 77 Cassetti (Rosi 78), 29 N. Burdisso, 4 Juan, 17 Riise; 7 Pizarro, 16 De Rossi; 11 Taddei, 20 Perrotta (Simplicio 73), 9 Vucinic; 22 Borriello (Menez 63).
Unused subs: 1 Lobont, 3 Castellini, 15 Loria, 33 Brighi.
Coach: Vincenzo Montella.
1 Julio Cesar; 13 Maicon, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 55 Nagatomo; 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 5 Stankovic (Mariga 90+4); 10 Sneijder; 27 Pandev (Obi 82), 22 Milito (Pazzini 75).
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 26 Chivu.
“It was important to break the string of poor results. Many times it seems easy to do but it’s not, because managing all the different factors in a match is never easy,” began Leonardo when commenting on the first leg victory in the semi-final of the Coppa Italia against Roma.
The Nerazzurri coach continued: “The team did well to react and get the win, which is never a given here in the Stadio Olimpico. I witnessed an excellent management of the play over the first 90 minutes. Now there’s the return leg at the San Siro, with everything still to play for.”
The inevitable question arose about his future. However, Leonardo responded: “I have no worries about the future. I live for today and I don’t even think about the rest; I live my own experience with the club and the president. We have a great rapport that is very open. What matters is finding the solutions to make the team win, as we saw this evening with an extraordinary goal from Stankovic – not to mention his fantastic performance. Pandev did excellent work to close down spaces and then restart in attack. Sneijder did a great job as well. The 4-4-1-1? We’re always looking for the best way to face the game. The team in general was very good. Was Milito disappointed to come off? I don’t really think so. Quite the opposite; his form is on the rise and he played a great game. In the second half, among other things, we had the chances to make it 2-0. But aside from that, the team responded well in general. Eto’o’s condition? We have to evaluate over the next few days, as we do for other players.”
Leonardo closed by commenting on the next few games facing the team: “Inter must try to maintain consistency; there have been defeats that took away our rhythm, but now we have to recover it, remaining calm and clear of mind. This evening was a test of maturity and clearness. I repeat, it wasn’t easy to find the proper calmness to take on a semi-final. A test for the team? After Parma there were final judgements handed out when, in football, they are never final. Our duty was to break the string of poor results. However, I had never seen a team that was absent; at times they even had too much desire, and this was creating a bit of confusion.”
“An important victory in a stadium that is never easy. It followed a difficult moment, and I think that this evening Inter showed a great response.” Javier Zanetti’s comments to the microphones of Rai Sport after the Nerazzurri’s 1-0 victory over Roma in the first leg of semi-finals of the Coppa Italia. “We played a great game against a tough opponent. It’s never been easy to win here in Rome,” continued the captain.
As to whether or not this result was a response to the many rumours going around in recent days speculating on the future of the coach, Zanetti explained in his closing statements: “I’ve always said that Leonardo is doing a great job. Let’s forget about what’s being said and focus on Saturday’s match against Lazio.”
“We prepared the game with the captain. The team was very united; we wanted to win and we did.” In a few simple words Yuto Nagatomo explained to Inter Channel how Inter were able to overcome Roma and win the first leg semi-final of the Coppa Italia.
“It was a very tough game but we never lost concentration and we earned a major victory. We can’t think about being tired; we have to win every game that awaits us from here until the end of the season. My performance tonight? I think it went pretty well, but I still have to improve a lot,” stated the Japanese full-back.
Another top performance, another goal to remember. Dejan Stankovic led Inter to a win in the first leg against Roma in the semi-final of the 2010-11 Coppa Italia, and he described the highs and lows of this evening’s match to Inter Channel: “I’m happy for the win. We were coming out of a difficult period and we did it as a group and as a team. But when a team like Roma stands in your way you can’t say that qualification is already secured.”
Stankovic admitted: “There’s regret for the league because we did so much to get to the derby. But we can’t say anything bad about this team because it’s a great team and it’s difficult to win everything, every year. I believe that if we manage to qualify for the Champions League and win another trophy, then this current season could be considered a good one. If we look back a few years, we would have to remember that the Coppa Italia has always been a very important trophy for Inter.”
Finally, a comment on the goals of Dejan Stankovic: “Never ordinary? [smiling] Well, let’s just say they are rarely tap-ins… However, the most important thing is that the one tonight earned a victory for the team. Now we’re preparing for the Lazio match with a low profile: compact and ready to set off again.”
This really is getting beyond a joke now, as Inter wrote off pretty much any chance they had for the Scudetto this season and the 2-0 defeat to Parma puts the Nerazzurri a huge 8 points behind Milan with 5 games to go. As always I’m right behind Inter but unless Milan mess up 3 of the last 5 games, which isn’t very likely, Inter’s only remaining chance of silverware this season depends on the Coppa Italia semi finals against Roma. Unfortunately I didn’t get to see the match but from what I’ve heard and read I’m glad I didn’t see it, but from what I can tell it is down to two factors firstly Leonardo’s crap tactics including his insistence of playing Pandev & Chivu and starting Sneijder on the bench while leaving Maicon out of the squad completely?!? The second I can only assume is down to frustrations of the recent bad results coming through in the players performances. Anyway here’s the match report and what Leonardo & co had to say….
Inter suffered a two goals to nil defeat at the hands of Parma in the Serie A 2010/11, Week 33 match played this evening at the Stadio Ennio Tardini.
In the first half Stankovic was the undisputed man-of-the-match for Inter. He came close on two occasions with a free-kick after 23 minutes which just missed the top corner and then with a long-range shot on 29 minutes which Mirante saved brilliantly. But it was Parma who took the lead after 35 minutes with neat passing between Zaccardo, Modesto and Giovinco who netted the ball with a left-foot shot. In the second half Sneijder came on and Inter began to speed up their game, but Amauri hit the crossbar on 74 minutes and then won the match 2 – 0 for Parma with his 86th minute goal.
First half –
As Maicon and Motta hadn’t been picked and with Cordoba recovering from an operation on his meniscus, Leonardo reshuffled the team playing Nagatomo right-back and Chivu left-back pushing Zanetti forward into midfield alongside Cambiasso and Kharja; Sneijder stayed on the bench and Stankovic played behind the two strikers, Pazzini and Eto’o. For Parma Candreva and Giovinco played behind lone striker Amauri.
After three minutes of play Parma were awarded the first free-kick from 23 metres out. Giovinco took it and the ball was deflected off the wall for the first of two consecutive corners which ended with Lucarelli’s overhead-kick floating high over the bar. Eto’o tried to come up with the response after 9 minutes when he took a pass from Lucio and hit a right from outside the area, but Lucarelli was there to turn the ball away for a corner, which came to nothing. Stankovic showed his skill on 23 minutes as he launched a free kick from 30 metres hitting it perfectly on his laces only to see it hit the angle of crossbar and upright to deny Inter’s Drago a well-deserved goal. Undoubtedly the Serb midfielder was man-of-the-match and he went on to create even more problems for Parma as he picked up a pass from Eto’o and fired another long-distance missile, forcing Mirante to dive at full-stretch to save on 29 minutes. Parma took the lead in the 35th minute with Giovinco: Zaccardo crossed from the left, Modesto picked up the ball on the far post and passed it back to the former Juventus striker who beat Julio Cesar with a low left-footed shot. Stankovic again in the last minute of the first half tried to break through the Parma defence following a one-two with Eto’o, but Mirante came off his line to stop the ball on the ground. After 45 minutes the teams went into the dressing rooms with the score at 1-0 for Parma.
Second half –
The second half got underway with Sneijder substituting Chivu. Zanetti moved back to cover in defence. Pazzini tried a shot from the edge of the area, picking up a pass from Stankovic, which Mirante saved after 47 minutes. It was Inter again on 57 minutes when Lucio crossed into the centre and Cambiasso headed the ball down for Eto’o and Ranocchia who were running in but, at the last minute, a brave Mirante dived to make the save. Sneijder came close too on the hour mark with a shot across goal which shaved the post. Leonardo took off Pazzini in the 61st minute and brought on Milito.
Sneijder took a free-kick on 67 minutes which came back off the wall and then Stankovic tried again with a hard, low shot from outside the 18-yard box but watched the ball slip narrowly wide after 68 minutes. Inter piled the pressure on the defence and Mirante’s goal, but it was Amauri who came closer to scoring than anyone else, as he intercepted a pass on 71 minutes and curled his shot towards the far post only to hit the crossbar. Two 74th minute tackles from Lucio in the penalty area, first of all on Giovinco and then on Antonelli brought protests from Parma as they claimed for fouls, but Rocchi was near at hand and let play go on. Amauri went on to put another nail in Inter’s coffin as Modesto’s pass from the left of the area found Bojinov, who in turn passed right to Amauri and he shot on the turn to beat the advancing Julio Cesar and make it 2-0. Milito kept on trying and his shot, following a pass from Stankovic found Mirante ready in the 90th minute. After 5 minutes of added time, the match ended 2-0, leaving the Nerazzurri on 63 points.
Parma 2-0 Inter (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Giovinco 35, Amauri 86.
Referee: Gianluca Rocchi (Florence).
Bookings: Ranocchia 19, Zaccardo 54, Paletta 66, Stankovic 72.
Added time: 0 + 5 minutes.
83 Mirante; 5 Zaccardo, 29 Paletta, 6 Lucarelli, 18 Gobbi; 4 Morrone, 10 Dzemaili, 23 Modesto; 7 Candreva (80 Valiani 65), 21 Giovinco (86 Bojinov 81); 11 Amauri (9 Crespo 89).
Unused subs:1 Pavarini, 14 Galloppa, 26 Pisano, 40 Nwanko.
Coach: Franco Colomba.
1 Julio Cesar; 55 Nagatomo, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu (10 Sneijder 46); 4 Zanetti, 19 Cambiasso, 14 Kharja (27 Pandev 77); 5 Stankovic; 7 Pazzini (22 Milito 61), 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 17 Mariga, 23 Materazzi, 20 Obi.
“Rather than thinking of the table now we’re thinking of our conditioning,” began Leonardo after the defeat against Parma. “We need points, but mathematically it becomes increasingly more difficult however. Apart from the 8 points, we’re thinking about recovering our conditioning. Tonight we started with too much haste to our game, but not because we were short on fuel. Then they scored on their first chance, and then it was noticeable that we ran out of gas. However, the team kept fighting until the end. They looked for the equaliser and then the winner, but instead we let in another goal.”
The coach was then asked about the exclusions he made and whether he would make them again: “It’s not about what I would do or wouldn’t do. The choices were made at the beginning and they were made considering who was better off than the others. Now we need peace and calm in order to come back with the clearness to our game that we had. To gain more points and to finish as high as possible, also in the Coppa Italia.”
Leonardo was asked what was the cause of the defeat: “We’ve lost so many games in different ways, because many things are missing, not just one thing. It’s a chain that can be set off in a positive or negative way. After an enormous run-up, we needed everything to be at 100 percent, and we didn’t have it. I repeat, now we have to recover our energy, use our experience and have clearness of mind. We got to a position to fight for first place because we built upon several things, starting with motivation. Then we started to lose the things that we needed. Now we have to recover our energy and manage it the best way possible. Other assessments aren’t needed.”
Leonardo added, “Things inside me don’t change because of wins or losses. I’ve been in football for quite a few years now and I know that all of the assessments, and also the criticisms, are made with emotionalism. I know that that’s life for a coach and I accept that with serenity, while at the same time concentrating clearly on what I have to do to end the season with the goals that we have. We can’t deny that the recent defeats have left their mark, but the team’s desire is still there.”
“We have to give credit to Parma. We were perhaps a bit flat. We also had three chances in the second half and it’s a shame because we wanted so much to stay in the race for the Scudetto. But we’ll continue to fight until mathematically eliminated.” This was the promise from Houssine Kharja to all of the Nerazzurri fans as he spoke to Inter Channel after the defeat to Parma, leaving Inter with 63 points in the standings.
There was disappointment in Kharja’s eyes, and when this was pointed out he responded: “After the defeat it’s hard to smile, but I’m happy playing with these players who are world champions. Now we’ll continue to fight for the Coppa Italia, and also in the league we want as many points as possible.”
And speaking of the Coppa Italia, the next match is Tuesday at the Stadio Olimpico against a Roma team that was defeated today 2-3 by Palermo: “We know Palermo; they play very well, especially away from home. But the Coppa Italia is always an important showcase and I’m convinced that Roma will want to win this trophy,” concludes Kharja.
“We have to stay united at this moment, a moment in which you can see the fatigue in this team, but that shouldn’t be an excuse,” were the words from Yuto Nagatomo after Parma v Inter. He continues, “Now it’s important to re-energize and move forward as a group, as we always have. We tried to attack Parma and we created chances. Eto’o also advised me to attack more on the flank and I tried to do it, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We have to look forward, to stay united and start winning again.”
In his interview with Inter Channel Esteban Cambiasso highlighted the most positive aspect of Parma v Inter; that which saw the Nerazzurri fans continue to support their team on the pitch, despite the goals they suffered. ‘El Cuchu’ explained: “We have to thank our supporters, just as we must thank our president for the words that he dedicated to us this week. Unfortunately we weren’t able to satisfy anybody, neither the fans nor the president. But there are times when everything easily goes your way, and then there are others, like today, where you have to stick it out and work hard. Now we’re looking forward, as this team has always done. We’ll keep our heads up and move forward, hopefully with a bit more clearness of mind.”
The desire to show that nothing is lost; this can also be one of the causes that led to the defeat today: “I don’t think that ‘show’ is the right word. We wanted to win because we don’t like losing. And anyway, I would always prefer a defeat caused by too much desire to win than not enough of it. This team has desire as well as commitment. Unfortunately, today it went wrong.”
“We have to face these last five league matches with the utmost commitment, re-finding the necessary strength. Then we have two semi-final matches in the Coppa Italia that are very important,” said Javier Zanetti after the match.
“I don’t think that anyone can discuss the quality of this group, in either victory or defeat. We have to try, as always, to stay outside of the criticism that will come. To remain united like we’ve always been. Furthermore, we want to thank our fans, who have always been there supporting us. To win what we’ve won everything functioned together: the team, the club and the fans. It must continue to work that way, even in difficult times,” said Zanetti.
Like everyone else I’m disappointed that we couldn’t keep the pressure on Napoli & Milan and the fact we lost by two goals to a mediocre team like Parma, but we have to carry on with our heads held high and just take every game as it comes starting with the Coppa Italia game against Roma and even if we don’t win anything this season I am and always will be proud to call myself an Interista!
Sempre Forza Inter!!!
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 37 Marco Davide Faraoni, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
“We’ll have to manage our energy levels well because we can still have a say in things. Nothing has changed for me: I’m here just as I was on the first day, looking to get results. As for us getting knocked out of Europe, we were right to believe in the comeback but for it to happen certain things needed to come about during the game – the spark that I mentioned the other day didn’t come,” continued the Nerazzurri coach.
Leonardo was then asked what had to be done on a psychological level to keep morale up, starting with tomorrow’s game against a very motivated side. “Parma need to win this game and they have experienced players but our team know how to overcome difficult moments like this and can find the right balance – psychologically too. We had that against Schalke but it was a normal game when it needed to be an extraordinary one. Against Parma we will certainly have to be very careful.”
What of Leonardo’s future and Inter’s future? “I’m only thinking about the six league games and the Coppa Italia,” replied Leonardo. I’m not the sort of person who worries about getting criticised; in fact sometimes criticism gives you more freedom of choice. In any case now is not the time to start analysing the future: we have games to worry about and to play.”
There was a word on Yuto Nagatomo’s performances: “Nagatomo has done really well, also in situations that weren’t easy: he’s confirmed what we expected from him.” A Japanese journalist commented on the fact that Japan have decided to take part in the Copa América in Argentina in July, and asked about the effect that may have on preparations for next season. Leonardo replied: “It’s important for all the players to be involved in their team’s pre-season preparations, and the Copa América will partially overlap with that, but it’s an official tournament and there’s not much we can do about it, apart from be careful to deal with his energy levels afterwards. However, that’s not only the case for Nagatomo but for lots of our South-American players too.”
There was then an explanation for the decision to leave Esteban Cambiasso out of the team to face Schalke: “Often people confuse the absolute value of a player with the needs of a particular moment. I’m not saying I’m always right but I always try to do what I think is best for a particular game. Cambiasso has played both in front of the defence and wide in a three-man midfield lots of times. So has Thiago Motta. Stankovic can play anywhere in midfield, as can other midfielders such as Kharja and Mariga. It’s the situation of a certain game that determines your choices.”
What are Inter’s chances of winning the league? “Anything can happen, although we are dependent on the results of others, on other sides slipping up. What we have to do is think about ourselves, and if others do slip up then we must do our best to take advantage. We’re only thinking about playing football, about playing our games normally, without letting anything else affect us and without worrying about things.”
What will be the most important factor from now until the end of the season: the coach’s influence, luck or the players’ determination? “All of the above,” said Leonardo. “We need all of those things, and to be able to handle them all well.”
To end with, there was a question about El Clasico between Real Madrid and Barcelona, which is set to take place four times over the next few weeks in Spain and in the Champions League: “I have a soft spot for Real Madrid,” the coach admitted, “and I hope that Kakà will soon be able to enjoy some success after his difficult spell out injured. However, the football Barcelona play is fantastic to watch.”