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Inter and the start of the ‘Stramala’ Era

It’s been a rollercoaster season for Inter and their fans.  After a glorious winning cycle that saw the club claim 15 titles (5 Scudetti, 4 Coppe Italia, 4 Supercoppe Italiane, a Champions League and a Clubs World Cup), the club is set to finish the season empty handed for the first time in 7 years .
Back in the summer of 2011, Brazilian coach Leonardo decided to leave the club unexpectedly after receiving a lucrative offer from French giants PSG when he only was in charge for 6 months. The club, who have already appointed the former Milan midfielder, after sacking José Mourinho’s replacement Rafael Benítez, found itself looking for another man to lead the ‘World Champions’ at the time. After a month or so of painful search that saw them being linked to the likes of Fabio Capello, Siniša Mihajlović, Marcelo Bielsa, and Luciano Spalletti, the club finally decided to go with former Juventus Primavera and Genoa coach Gian Piero Gasperini, and this is where the disastrous journey started.

Inter sitting in the relegation zone but who is to blame?

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. 

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Eto’o & Milito seal Coppa Italia Final with a 3-1 win against Palermo

Inter end the season with their 3rd & 4th trophies of the season, this years Coppa Italia final was a battle to secure not just the Coppa Italia trophy but also a special trophy to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the unification of Italy.

Match Report
Inter have won the 2010/11 Coppa Italia by beating Palermo 3-1 in this evening’s final.

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.

FIRST HALF
Leonardo had to make do without Maicon (suspended) and Cambiasso (injured) but was able to select Ranocchia, who recovered from flu to partner Lucio at the heart of defence, and Sneijder, who nestled in behind Eto’o and Pazzini. Kharja and Milito started from the bench.
It wasn’t long after the Inno di Mameli (Italian national anthem) and Morganti’s opening whistle that Palermo created the first chance of the game, Ilicic setting up Hernandez and the Uruguayan firing into the side netting with 2 minutes on the clock. The opening period saw the Sicilians throwing their weight around a bit: Hernandez elbowed Sneijder, Goian crunched into Pazzini from behind and Balzaretti fouled Lucio on the edge of the box, all within the first quarter of an hour.
On 15 minutes Stankovic played a long ball over the top looking for Pazzini, who held off the challenges of Goian and Munoz as he attempted bring the ball down, but it ran into Sirigu’s arms.
In the 19th minute, Julio Cesar was alert to dive at the feet of Pastore as the Palermo playmaker raced into the box after playing a one-two with Ilicic. The Argentinian tried his luck again a minute later, after another exchange with Ilicic, but lifted his effort over the bar.
Goian asked to come off midway through the half and on came Carrozzieri, making his first appearance of the season after completing a two-year drugs ban.
The Olimpico exploded in the 26th minute when Inter took the lead: Thiago Motta won the ball while being brought down by Hernandez; Sneijder picked it up and, seeing Eto’o’s run, slid a delightful pass in behind the defence for Samuel to latch onto, bear down on goal and sidefoot past Sirigu into the far corner. The Cameroon striker raised his hand to his chest after notching up his 36th goal of the season and repeated with Materazzi the same celebration seen in the Club World Cup final.
Five minutes later, Palermo almost found an equaliser  when, following Hernandez’s cross to Balzaretti and a scramble in the box, Hernandez’s deflected shot was kept out by Julio Cesar with a stunning reflex save.
Ilicic made a dangerous run into the box on 41 minutes, only to flop to the ground after an alleged foul by Ranocchia that rightly wasn’t given.
The last action of the half saw Hernandez’s central shot saved comfortably by Julio Cesar, so after 46 minutes played the half-time scoreline was Inter 1-0 Palermo.
SECOND HALF
The second half began with Julio Cesar keeping out an effort from Balzaretti, then Chivu made a crucial interception as Hernandez was heading for goal in the 49th minute.
Julio Cesar was called into action again soon after, getting up above everyone to claim the ball following Ilicic’s free kick; he then made another timely intervention to pluck the ball away from Hernandez (52nd), with Lucio guarding the goal line.
Miccoli replaced Acquah on 55 minutes and it took the substitute just five minutes to make his presence felt: connecting with Pastore’s cross, he nodded towards the far corner, only for an alert Brazilian keeper to fly through the air and turn the ball round the post with a great save.
Pazzini made way for Pandev on the hour mark, with Eto’o moved forward to play as the side’s spearhead.
Another scramble inside the Nerazzurri box saw Palermo go close again, but after a series of rebounds Lucio cleared with an overhead kick.
After 67 minutes, a contrast between Chivu and Hernandez in the box led to more protests from the Sicilians, but the Romanian had clearly won the ball.
Inter went close in the 75th minute as Eto’o laid off for Sneijder, but the playmaker failed to connect. However, just a minute passed and the Nerazzurri extended their lead: Pandev won the ball with a little luck and fed Sneijder, who released Eto’o once more and the Cameroonian striker entered the box and slotted into the far corner with another display of clinical finishing. The Olimpico went wild as the cup edged ever closer.
Inter might have gone three up in the 86th minute, when Sneijder curled a lovely shot towards the top corner, yet it was matched by a top-drawer save from Sirigu. And Palermo’s hopes were restored two minutes later when Munoz headed past Julio Cesar from Miccoli’s corner, which in fact shouldn’t have been given – Morganti and his assistants failed to see that the ball had gone out of play before the corner was awarded.
Moments after celebrating his goal, Munoz’s evening was ruined when he was shown a second yellow for bringing down Mariga on the edge of the box as the game entered stoppage time. Eto’o stepped up to take the free kick and struck the ball sweetly but it came back off the underside of the crossbar.
Yet almost immediately afterwards Milito did put the game to bed, turning home Pandev’s pull-back just yards from goal to put the Nerazzurri 3-1 up.
After five minutes of stoppage time, Morganti blew the final whistle on the 2010/11 Coppa Italia final – Inter were the winners.

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.

Inter 3-1 Palermo (HT: 1-0)
Scorers: Eto’o 26 and 76, Munoz 88, Milito 90+2.
Referee: Emidio Morganti (Ascoli Piceno).
Booked: Acquah 27, Munoz 53 and 90, Carrozzieri 68.
Sent off: Munoz 90.
Added time: 1+5 minutes.

Line ups

Inter:

1 Julio Cesar; 55 Nagatomo, 6 Lucio, 15 Ranocchia, 26 Chivu; 4 Zanetti, 8 Thiago Motta (17 Mariga, 82), 5 Stankovic; 10 Sneijder (22 Milito, 87); 7 Pazzini (27 Pandev, 61), 9 Eto’o.
Unused subs: 12 Castellazzi, 14 Kharja, 23 Materazzi, 25 Samuel.
Coach: Leonardo.

Palermo:
46 Sirigu; 16 Cassani, 6 Munoz, 3 Goian (80 Carrozzieri, 69), 42 Balzaretti; 8 Migliaccio, 94 Acquah (10 Miccoli, 55), 23 Nocerino; 72 Ilicic, 27 Pastore; 9 Hernandez (51 Pinilla, 77).
Unused subs: 99 Benussi, 4 Kasami, 11 Liverani, 36 Darmian.
Coach: Delio Rossi.
Reactions
Leonardo

“It was an enormous satisfaction this year for me and for Inter with so many changes.” Leonardo enjoys his first trophy as Inter coach, the Italian Cup won against Palermo: “Being able to finish the last match of the season with two trophies raised to the sky by Zanetti and Materazzi [the Coppa Italia and the Cup celebrating 150 years of Italian Unification, ed.] is a wonderful thing.” The Inter coach also praised the thousands of supporters who filled the Stadio Olimpico: “They were extraordinary.”

The Inter coach continued: “Irrespective of next season, this season has been great with all of the obstacles we overcame with pride and quality. Inter finished the season with three trophies which means consistency. This group deserved to finish the year by lifting a trophy.”

And again, more compliments for the Nerazzurri players: “I’m proud of this team, a team that had a difficult year, with three coaches and many demands. It wasn’t easy, especially with all the injuries we had. This team really deserved it: with Ranocchia, who played an extraordinary game after being out for 3 days with a fever; with Sneijder, who did what he did after being out for a month; with Julio Cesar, who made exceptional saves; with Eto’o, who ended an extraordinary year with two goals; with Milito, who scored the last goal of Inter’s season after a difficult year; with all the defence that held strong while under pressure. In short, the whole team was great. The will to win was crucial; we also saw it tonight, but in truth it was always there. The squad is there, and if everyone moves forward with the desire to win again we’ll be fine. There was a desire to confirm that this team could keep winning, the challenges will be there and so will we. On 6 August there will be another one right away.”

Leonardo was asked about a possible contract extension after this victory: “I will not talk about my contract until the end of next season. I’m not worried about it and it’s not important to me. This victory changes nothing. I don’t want to talk about it and it’s not on my mind.”

Then an analysis of the match: “At times we struggled to find the players up front, most of all at the beginning. Then scoring a goal helped us a lot. After that, things were managed very intelligently, and we rose to the occasion. I repeat: we deserved this victory.”

Finally, Leonardo told Inter Channel: “The lads threw me in the air with the cup in my hands, and I almost lost it…”

Massimo Moratti
Congratulations to Palermo, “a wonderful team that played a wonderful match,” said Massimo Moratti praising the season of his Inter. The Nerazzurri president spoke to Rai Sport: “A mini-treble? Not at all. One of the three trophies this year was the Club World Cup, I want to remind you – I’ll sign every year for a treble like that…”

The president then stated to Inter Channel: “The passion of the players coincided with that of the fans and vice versa. It was a great victory we strongly wanted and deserved. The third trophy in a season, even if for some they aren’t the most important ones… The beginning of a new cycle? I hope so, especially for Leonardo and those lads who recently arrived in this fantastic group. I wish them luck in winning as much as the team’s veterans, who have won so much in recent years and who still hold a strong desire to win. I hear so many questions about the transfer market, so many names are mentioned to me, but the first thing that comes to mind is to maintain this group, although we’ll do like always and add a few players to help the team to continue winning.”

Javier Zanetti
(Football Data) Tenth appearance in the Coppa Italia final for Javier Zanetti (two in 1999/00, one in 2004/05, two in 2005/06, two in 2006/07, one in 2007/08, one in 2009/10 and one this year), who climbs to fourth place in all-time appearances alongside Christian Panucci, Fausto Pari, Gianluca Vialli and Pietro Vierchowod. The player with the most Coppa Italia final appearances is Roberto Mancini, who can boast 15: from 30/06/1985, AC Milan 0-1 Sampdoria, to 18/05/2000, Inter Milan 0-0 Lazio. In second place with 11 are Fausto Salsano and Francesco Toldo.
“It was a difficult victory, and that makes it even more beautiful. Congratulations to Palermo, who played a great match, but also to us because we showed ourselves again to be a real group and a team that knows how to overcome all obstacles.” Another trophy finishes in the hands of Javier Zanetti, who commented on a final won by Inter with their ever-present commitment and grit. The captain admitted: “It was fantastic to be able to raise another cup. This is also a victory for everyone: the team, the president, Leonardo, the fans – those who were with us in Rome and those who saw the match in front of the television.”
Samuel Eto’o
With the two goals he scored against Palermo in the Italian Cup final, Samuel Eto’o reached 37 for the season, improving on the 36 he scored when he played for Barcelona. But the Cameroonian, speaking to Rai, acknowledged that, “the important thing in football is to win. My record is important too, but it wouldn’t be so sweet without the victories.” After the match the Nerazzurri striker also went to receive applause from the Palermo fans: “Football is a beautiful sport and I wanted to thank all the fans, including the Sicilians who took a long journey to be here.” Will Eto’o remain at Inter? “The president has spoken and that is enough. Will I stay? Certainly.”
Yuto Nagatomo
For Yuto Nagatomo this Coppa Italia represents the first trophy he has won at Inter. The Japanese player smiles and is proud of it: “Many things happened during this year, now – going through this time of great joy – it seems almost incredible, after the tears for the elimination from the World Cup in South Africa. Now it seems like I’m living a dream. I want to continue going forward to improve. These six months at Inter have helped me a lot; one year in this team is like ten in another club. My personal goal for next season? To become the best full-back in the world.”
Andrea Ranocchia
“They were formidable; young players with great talent who could have caused us problems. We did well to close down in the difficult moments and to strike when the time was right.” A lightning recovery and a match played as a true leader, Andrea Ranocchia analysed Palermo, a worthy opponent of the Nerazzurri in the final of the 2010/11 Coppa Italia that saw Inter raise the trophy.

The defender continued: “It was important to win the Coppa Italia. We ended the season with three trophies and we secured the possibility to go out and compete for a trophy as soon as August.”

Conclusion
What an end to what has been a rollercoaster season for the Nerazzurri and despite all the critcism and bad results we showed we are still a very dangerous team.  The 1st and 2nd goals in this final proved that we are up there with the elite in world football and we must do our upmost to keep hold of Eto’o & Sneijder for many years to come as they both essential to the success we acheive last season, this season and hopefully for many years to come.  Now we can look forward to doing it all again in August maybe with a few new faces but always with the pride and passion of the mighty Nerazzurri so the football world be warned we had a bit of a blip this season but next season we’re coming to take it all back.
SEMPRE FORZA INTER!!!

Inter 3-1 Catania Last Game of League Season Secures 12th Home Win In A Row

The last game of the league season meant a convincing win for the Nerazzurri over Catania and also secured Inter’s 12th home win in a row with a brace from Giampaolo Pazzini and an awesome effort from Yuto Nagatomo. Some say Inter have had a disastrous season but in fact that is not true as 2nd place with 76 points and 69 goals in the league is hardly disastrous but I’ll go into details of the season more after the Coppa Italia final in my season review, but for now let’s concentrate on how Inter ended the season on a high.

Match Report
FIRST HALF


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.

Referee: Nicola Pierpaoli (Florence).
Added time: 1 + 2 minutes.
Attendance: 56,072.
Line Ups

Inter:


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.
Coach: Leonardo.

Catania:
30 Campagnolo; 22 Alvarez, 2 Potenza, 23 Terlizzi, 33 Capuano (19 Ricchiuti 55); 8 Ledesma, 5 Carboni (10 Lodi 55), 12 Marchese; 7 Schelotto, 9 Bergessio, 17 Gomez.
Unused subs: 1 Kosicky, 13 Izco, 15 Morimoto, 18 Augustyn, 20 Martinho.
Coach: Diego Simeone.
Reactions
Leonardo


“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.”
Javier Zanetti


“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


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.”
Yuto Nagatomo


“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

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.”

Conclusion

So that’s the end of the 2010/2011 Serie A season and what a rollercoaster season it’s been, but now we must concentrate on securing the Coppa Italia then we can see what happens in the summer with transfers but with all the rumours of big name & talented players coming to Inter we can be sure that the mighty Nerazzurri will go from strength to strength and we will be back at the top next season. All i can say is roll on the start of next season and Forza Inter the greatest team in the world.

Inter back in 2nd with a 2-1 win over Lazio


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.

Match Report

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.

Lineups

Inter:


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.
Coach: Leonardo.

Lazio:
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.

Reactions

Leonardo


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.

Javier Zanetti


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


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.”

Luca Castellazzi


“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.”

Massimo Moratti


“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.”

Conclusion
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.

Inter v Lazio Match Preview

Inter go into today’s game against Lazio 8 points behind Milan with 5 games including this one to go and the odds are severely stacked against us for the Scudetto but we are not giving up without a fight and anything is possible as Lazio themselves proved years ago when they made up 9 points in the last 5 games to take the title.  For us to stand a chance though we must win every game to come and hope Milan make a mess of their run in! Even if we don’t catch Milan we have still got a fight on our hands as we could finish anywhere from 2nd down to 4th or 5th if we’re not careful and a win for Lazio today would put them on the same points as us so this definitely is a must win for us as an in form Udinese are only 4 points behind going in to this weekend.

Squad Selection
Leonardo has named 21 players in his match-day squad for today’s game against Lazio, the Nerazzurri’s Serie A 2010/11 Week 34 fixture to be played at the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan’s San Siro district (15:00 kick-off).

Goalkeepers:
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;

Defenders:
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 13 Maicon, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;

Midfielders:
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;

Forwards:
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.

It’s good to see Eto’o back in the squad and let’s hope that the Inter strike force can break the barren spell that they’re suffering against Lazio today

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.”

It’s not just Pazzini that’s having problems scoring as even Eto’o hasn’t found the net in quite a few games but i have complete faith in our team and I’m sure that if the wing backs and midfielders can get the balls into the box then Eto’o, Pazzini or Milito will have no trouble burying them in the net.


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.”

My Prediction
Lazio are a team that are playing very well this season compared to the last campaign so they will obviously be going all out for the win to put them on level points with us in 3rd, so Inter need to play intelligently and take advantage of all opportunities that come our way, which we should be able to do, so I’m going to go for a 2-1 win for Inter this afternoon which if Palermo play like they did against Milan in this afternoons game against Napoli should see us regain 2nd place.

Latest Inter Transfer Rumours, Leonardo To Stay & Mourinho says ‘His Team’ Needs Rebuilding

With the end of what i like to think of as Inter’s hangover season in sight (Thank God!!!) the rumours of changes of management and players are coming thick and fast for our beloved Nerazzurri, with most of the footballing world agreeing that Inter needs some big changes to stay up there with the likes of Barcelona.  Of course a lot can change before the start of next season but there are some rumours that just don’t seem to go away so i thought i’d share the latest versions of these stories with you all and start the excitement for next season early!

First of all we’ll deal with the management and contrary to what everyone seems to want it looks like Leonardo might still be at the helm next season as yesterday Inter’s CEO CEO Ernesto Paolillo has revealed that head coach Leonardo has no reason to be worried about his job as the Serie A champions have no intention of parting company with the Brazilian tactician.
He told Bloomberg: “The future of Leonardo is with Inter. He’s a great coach, he’s working very well, we are really satisfied.

“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!!!

As i’ve said most of the footballing world agree that Inter needs changes and this was given more weight by a quote from our hero Jose Mourinho the other day when he told press that ‘His Inter must rebuild for next season’ it is great to see that the manager most Interista hold close to their hearts still feels close to the team he led to glory last season. he went on to say…
“I tell Inter that this season isn’t a disaster if they don’t win any silverware,” he told Mediaset.
“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!

Anyway on to the players and the one transfer that seemed to be in the bag is being interupted by our rivals Juventus who have admitted they are interested in Tevez and also Neymar but they have also said that they may not have the finances to sign either player, lets hope not!
An article on Bleacherreport.com says –
European champions Inter are understood to be the leading candidates to sign Tévez due to their wealth and recent pedigree as the dominant force in Serie A.
But Juventus general manager, Giuseppe Beppe Marotta, has confirmed that Juve are keen to take Tévez to Turin, as well as the Brazilian forward Neymar, if the club can fund a move for either player.
Marotta said: “Tévez and Neymar are two excellent players, very strong, and you would like to have either of them, but beyond that point is an economic reality which must be faced.
“Acquiring players in that category is not an easy operation to achieve. In addition, in the case of Neymar, we know we would have to compete with Chelsea.”

Another big named linked with Inter is Tottenhams Luca Modric

Inter Milan will go for Luka Modric this summer if Tottenham miss out on the Champions League.
The Italian giants are looking to rebuild this summer and see Croatian star Modric as one of the best midfielders in Europe.
Inter believe they will have a realistic chance of persuading Spurs to sell, should they miss out on the top four.
The Italians, also known admirers of Spurs’ Gareth Bale, will test their determination to hold on to Modric, who has been a star of the club’s European campaign this season.
Modric has already insisted he is not thinking of leaving the north Londoners, but Inter believe they may be able to lure him away if they cannot offer him Champions League football next season.
However, White Hart Lane boss Harry Redknapp has insisted none of his top players will be sold and instead wants to strengthen his squad.
This one will depend heavily on where Tottenham finish in the Premiership and if they get a Champions league place, but this is another highly likely signing for the summer
And our last story is about Roma’s Mirko Vucinic who is reportedly unhappy at the Italian capital club and he is being dubbed as a perfect replacement for Diego Milito who could be leaving the Nerazzurri in the summer.

Vucinic joined Roma from Lecce in the summer of 2006 and has since made well over 100 appearances for the capital club. However, he is reportedly unhappy with his current situation and could therefore be on the move at the end of the season.

Inter are believed to be willing to pay up to €15 million (£13.3m) for his services, but face stiff competition from clubs such as Tottenham and Blackburn Rovers in the race for Vucinic’s signature.

Vucinic is a good player but if we do sign Tevez i can’t see him getting much more playing time than he has at Roma as Eto’o & Tevez would be obvious first choice strikers, so i wouldn’t be disappointed if this one doesn’t happen.  As i’ve said though a lot can happen between now and the start of next season so we’ll just have to wait and see what happens though i’ve got a feeling there’s going to be some really good signings for Inter this year!

Coppa Italia 1st Leg Roma 0-1 Inter Match Report & Reactions

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.

Match Report
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.

Inter immediately asserted themselves on the game and had most of the possession in the opening stages. Two minutes in, Sneijder tried his luck from range and got his effort on target but failed to really test Doni with it. Just a few moments later Inter should have been a goal up: Cambiasso’s long ball forward induced Doni and Juan to make a mess of things allowing Stankovic to fire home unmarked, but the Serbian was harshly adjudged to have fouled Juan. However, it was Inter’s turn to get lucky in the 9th minute when Vucinic managed to stab wide with the goal at his mercy, after Borriello’s cross had gone beyond Julio Cesar at the near post. The Montenegro striker had another chance after a quarter of an hour but was again imprecise.


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.

SECOND HALF


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.


After 4 minutes of added time, Inter were able to celebrate an impressive victory that stands them in good stead for the second leg.

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.

Lineups
Roma:
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.

Inter:


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.
Coach: Leonardo.

Reactions
Leonardo
I still don’t know why there was no pre match press conference published for this game but Leo did do one after the match.


“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.”

Javier Zanetti


“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.”

Yuto Nagatomo


“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.

Dejan Stankovic


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.”

Conclusion
It’s nice to have positive things to say about the team we love as they have been few and far between in recent weeks but the team played well last night (not their best but well enough) and it was great to see our defenders doing what they were supposed to, Ranocchia played very well stopping alot of Roma’s runs but the man of the match for me was Lucio as he was back to his blistering best with forward runs & defended with determined & professional challenges. Now hopefully we can go into the Lazio game on Saturday with the same determination and improve even more.

Parma v Inter match report & reactions


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….

Match report


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.

Lineups

Parma:
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.

Inter:


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.
Coach: Leonardo.

Reactions

Leonardo


“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.”

Kharja


“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.

Nagatomo


“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.”

Estaban Cambiasso


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.”

Javier Zanetti


“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.

Conclusion
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!!!

Parma v Inter Match Preview

It’s been a tough week for Inter with our departure from the Champions league on Wednesday, but today we face our next challenge against Parma at the Stadio Tardini where we must win to keep up any chance of winning the Scudetto which as we know is almost as much of an unlikely result as beating Shalke was mid week but there’s still the chance as Milan are only 5 points ahead which means they only have to mess up twice in the last 6 games for us to overtake them, presuming we win! It’s a long shot but as Stankovic proved the other week long shots sometimes go your way!

Squad Selection

Leonardo has named 21 players in his match-day squad for Inter’s Serie A 2010/11 Week 33 game against Parma, at the Stadio Ennio Tardini (kick-off at 20:45).

Goalkeepers:
1 Julio Cesar, 12 Luca Castellazzi, 21 Paolo Orlandoni;

Defenders:
4 Javier Zanetti, 6 Lucio, 15 Andrea Ranocchia, 23 Marco Materazzi, 26 Cristian Chivu, 37 Marco Davide Faraoni, 55 Yuto Nagatomo;

Midfielders:
5 Dejan Stankovic, 10 Wesley Sneijder, 14 Houssine Kharja, 17 MacDonald Mariga, 19 Esteban Cambiasso, 20 Joel Obi, 29 Philippe Coutinho;

Forwards:
7 Giampaolo Pazzini, 9 Samuel Eto’o, 22 Diego Milito, 27 Goran Pandev.
Press Conference

Leonardo
“It’s crucial that we deal with this situation and remain focused on our goals: six league games and two Coppa Italia semi-final matches. We have to deal with our disappointment but this team is capable of doing that. They have never failed to respond to situations.” That was how Leonardo began his press conference on the eve of the Parma v Inter match (Serie A 2010/11, Week 33), which will be played tomorrow at the Stadio Tardini in Parma (20:45 kick-off).

“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.”

The coach was then asked about the fact that Eto’o hasn’t got on the scoresheet in recent matches: “Eto’o is having an extraordinary season and it’s difficult to say why he hasn’t hit the net for a few games. It depends on the situation and on the movement of the whole team, not just on him.”

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.”

My Prediction
Inter have got a point to prove today but anything can happen with Leonardo’s tactics so i’m going to predict a 1-2 win for Inter, with Milan playing Sampdoria tonight and Napoli playing Udinese tomorrow we could close the gap a bit with a win tonight as both Sampdoria & Udinese have the potential of causing upsets for Milan & Napoli, here’s hoping anyway!
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