Tired, knackered, slow, confused, negative, disillusioned, afraid, frightened - were the most recurrent adjectives used to describe Inter players attitude and performances under Rafa Benitez. The same players now run, try, show desire to win and enjoy the battle. A couple of weeks under Leonardo have been enough to shape a new Inter that seem to enjoy playing bravely at high tempo. Credit to the Brazilian coach but it also means that the quality was already there - Kenny Dalglish at Liverpool is struggling to change Reds fortunes because of the amount of mediocrities inherited by the previous regimes.
Against Cesena Leonardo picked Pandev for the 'Sneijder position' behind Milito and Eto'o, placing Stankovic in the holding midfielders line alongside Zanetti and Cambiasso. A very offensive choice that paid off straight away as Pandev, Milito and Eto'o created two goals in one minute. Game over? Not really.
After 20 minutes Diego Milito limped off to be replaced with Jonathan Biabiany. But the real problem was the choice to recall the 37-year old Materazzi - as Ranocchia had already played for Genoa the 16th day fixture and there were doubts about his eligibility. Matrix presence unsettled the fans and Lucio too.
Never seen at Inter the Brazilian centreback caught out of position so many times [always trying to cover his mate disgraceful positioning].
Someone at the club must find a desk for Materazzi and give him one sheet and some colours. As a player he's really embarassing and someone has to tell him.
Cesena exploited Inter centrebacks' lack of cohesiveness by scoring twice. Four goals in 29 minutes: 2-2. But they could have been more due to Samuel Eto'o's outstanding vein. Despite knowing only too well the Cameroon striker phenomenal condition, it's still amazing to see how easily he can dribble and shot. However, playing well and scoring goals is bread and butter stuff for Sami. It cannot be said of Christian Chivu. The Romanian left back has been Inter's most disappointing defender for two seasons. The weakest player in the back four line. Against Cesena, he suddenly looked explosive and very keen on attacking. As a former left fullback himself, Leonardo must have passed some good tips. Chivu's winning header at the end of the first half was a deserved reward for his surprising performance.
Far less fun in the second half. Inter controlled the game and only Obi and Maicon tried to do something. After Giaccherini's second yellow card [excessive to be fair] Cesena had no more hope to get anything from this game. This match will be remember as the 520th league game for Javier Zanetti, one more than Bergomi - wonderful achievement. There will be many more for the 'Argentinian highlander'.
MAN OF THE MATCH. Christian Chivu. Eto'o was devastating, he scored and hit the crossbar in the second half, but the Romanian in the first half looked again the brilliant player admired with Ajax and AS Rome. Never seen before with Inter.
Serie A 2010-11 - Day 16 (rescheduled fixture)
INTER: Castellazzi; Maicon, Lucio, Materazzi, Chivu; Javier Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic; Pandev (85' Cordoba); Milito (20' Biabiany, 75'Obi), Eto'o. Coach: Leonardo
CESENA: Antonioli; Ceccarelli, Benalouane, Von Bergen, Lauro (64'Dellafiore); Parolo, Colucci, Sammarco (69' Caserta); Jimenez (77' Budan), Bogdani, Giaccherini. Coach: Ficcadenti
Goals: Eto'o 14', Milito 15', Chivu 45'; Bogdani 23', Giaccherini 29'
Red card: Giaccherini
Yellow cards: Materazzi, Benalouane
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