Mission accomplished for Schalke. And for Inter too, as Nerazzurri lost even the second leg. Leonardo's analysis has been honest as usual: "We ran out of energy. The team has faced a very laboured and demanding season. Since I came here, I've been pretending a lot from the players in terms of training and games. You needed a lot of commitment to reduce the existing gap in serie A. And it's not easy to give everything and push yourself to the limit when you're recovering from injuries. The lads gave everything they had. Unfortunately, we arrived tired when the prize was there. But our season is not over yet".
The second leg offered what we all already knew: Inter's proud committment and Schalke's compact package to protect the 5-2 advantage. Leonardo's chosen formation was balanced and made sense - with Stankovic, Motta and Zanetti behind Sneijder in midfield with Eto'o and Milito in the front line.
Most of all, it was a brave decision from the coach to exclude Cambiasso from the starting eleven. The Argentinian midfielder is one of the most influential player in Inter's dressing room, and this is the kind of choice that is likely to change the relationship between the coach and the players.
A risk which suggests that Leonardo really hoped to write an historical chapter in Gelsenkirchen, otherwise he'd have accomodated Cambiasso in midfield. But to try to score four goals away you need help from the homeside [but Schalke didn't choke], plus a great physical condition [which wasn't there]. Inter needed to be Shere Khan, ended up like Ka.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Raul. Great goal, great assist. Let's pay homage to the most important player of the team which wrote the word end to Inter's Champions League campaign. Last summer the Spanish legend chose not to put himself in the Bernabeu museum - he left Real Madrid to challenge for honours in a different country, in a very different league. A natural silent leader, who proved even in Germany to be still a wonderful player and not only a living monument.
UEFA Champions League 2010-11 - Quarterfinals' 2nd leg
SCHALKE 04-INTER 2-1
Schalke 04: Neuer; Uchida, Metzelder, Howedes, Sarpei; Baumjohann (72′ Draxler), Matip, Papadopoulos, Jurado (84′ Schmitz); Raul, Edu (77′ Charisteas). Coach: Rangnick
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Ranocchia, Nagatomo; Stankovic (46′ Pandev), Thiago Motta, Zanetti; Sneijder (79′ Coutinho); Eto’o, Milito. Coach: Leonardo
Goals: Raul 45’, Howedes 81′; Thiago Motta 49’
Yellow cards: Lucio, Thiago Motta, Ranocchia; Raul, Papadopoulos, Schmitz
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