The start of the Serie A season is fast approaching and over the summer there has been quite a few changes to not only Inter’s squad but also to most of, if not all the top teams in Italy. We still have over a month left of the mercato to go too so there may be many changes still to come. I am really excited for the start of this season’s campaign with Inter having many fresh faces ready to do battle in our sacred colours of Black and Blue, and also with the young and talented Andrea Stramaccioni officially at the helm we can be sure of some entertaining and exciting football for the Nerazzurri in the coming months.
In the pre-season so far there have been quite a few Inter players that are making a good impression and I hope to see them stamping their authority over the Italian league throughout the season, some of the names that have been impressing the most are:
INTERNAZIONALE MONTHLY REVIEW: Gennaro/January
This is the first of what I hope is a regular monthly review of everything that has happened in the month just passed. Month by month I will look at all things Nerazzurri, the players, the goals, news and all things good, bad and little of the ugly from Inter this month.
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.”