Inter left Brescia with the first draw of Leonardo's regime. The 1-1 came after Nerazzurri conceded the equaliser with only six minutes remaining and Julio Cesar saved a penalty at the minute 90.
In Tennis when you fail to convert too many break-points it's almost a certainty that your opponent will grab his only chance straight away. Nothing to do with fate. The reason lies in the sudden exchange of roles and the inability to settle immediately in the new one - the 'hunted hunter' finds hard to cope with the new situation requirements. To avoid similar problems you need to possess one thing called 'killer instinct'. Inter simply don't have it.
At the minute 18 the Champions of Italy took the lead thanks to Samuel Eto'o and it was plain to see that the team wanted to put the game to rest as soon as possible. Inter had several opportunities to score but failed to find the net for the second time, missing golden chances with Pandev and hitting a post with Sneijder. Bad luck? Not only.
A poacher is Inter's missing ingredient. This kind of player is exactly what Nerazzurri have been missing for the whole season, despite Eto'o's outstanding scoring vein [31 overall goals, 19 in serie A] seem to suggest the opposite. The Cameroon striker can create goals out of nothing, Pazzini [cup tied] can score too, and both are scoring quite regularly. But none of the two is the kind of finisher Milito is - the old Milito, of course. Players a là Milito, Lineker, Trezeguet or Inzaghi [one chance one goal] help a lot when you are tired or not at the top of your game and you need to kill the game off quickly. To appreciate the importance of this kind of players, just look at Arsenal - under Wenger the Gunners kept the tradition of playing entertaining football but won nothing after the likes of Ian Wright and/or Thierry Henry left.
To be one goal up with only six minutes left, it's not a safe margin anywhere for the current Inter, not even at Rigamonti against a team well known for declining in the second half. But Lucio's injury forced Leonardo to replace the Brazilian ace with Cordoba at the minute 65. Then, with only 12 minutes remaining, Leonardo chose to replace Nagatomo [positive again] with Materazzi, moving Cordoba to the left to accomodate 'Matrix' alongside Ranocchia in the centre. Calamitous decision.
The most obvious choice would have been to bring on Obi to play in midfield, moving Zanetti to the left to fill in for the Japanese fullback. Choosing instead to bring Cordoba out of position and Materazzi out of retirement was a double mistake. The Colombian allowed Caracciolo to equalize at the minute 84 with a wrong header; six minutes later his foul on Eder was sanctioned with a penalty, saved by Julio Cesar.
AC Milan home draw against Bari kept the 5-point gap unchanged, which means the title race is still open. But next stop for Inter is Munich. And Bayern sent an unequivocal message defeating Hamburg 6-0 (first half 1-0) to end a 3-match losing streak with brilliant performances from Ribery, Robben and Van Buyten. Inter are not Hamburg but to win at the Allianz Arena the European Champions need to have Lucio back and to play far more bravely than in the first leg. With more determination and self-belief.
Before Brescia's game Leonardo set the bar very high for himself and his guys: "We can still achieve the Treble and I think this team has the quality to do it again". Actually Inter are still involved in the three competitions won last year [Scudetto, Italian cup and Champions League] but no one sees a new 'Triplete' as a realistic possibility. Especially the players do not seem to share their coach optimism.
Man of the match: Ivan Cordoba. Always fit and reliable. A true pro. But it will be hard to forget the final 12 minutes played against Brescia, as they are the worst ever played by the Colombian centreback in his illustrious 11-year career at Inter.
Serie A 2010-11 / Day 29
Brescia: Arcari; Zebina, Bega, Zoboli; Zambelli (61' Eder), Konè, Vass (83' Lanzafame), Hetemaj, Berardi (26' Daprelà); Diamanti, Caracciolo. Coach: Iachini
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio (65' Cordoba), Ranocchia, Nagatomo (78' Materazzi); J.Zanetti, Stankovic; Sneijder; Pandev, Pazzini (70' Kharja), Eto'o. Coach: Leonardo
Goals: Caracciolo 84'; Eto'o 18'
Yellow cards: Daprelà, Zebina, Hetemaj, Kone; Maicon
Red cards: Caracciolo (94'); Cordoba (89')
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