ESPN Soccernet - Correspondents - FC Inter Milan
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FC Inter Milan
Posted by Gianni Serra on 04/14/2011

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: 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
Referee: Skomina
Goals: Raul 45’, Howedes 81′; Thiago Motta 49’
Yellow cards: Lucio, Thiago Motta, Ranocchia; Raul, Papadopoulos, Schmitz

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Posted by Tunde on 04/14/2011

Until Leornado start using the younger guys like Obi, Mariga and Coutinho in order to give the older guys with tired legs some rest, Inter will win no silverware this season.forget about the league and Copa.

Posted by Sam on 04/14/2011

It is all good to say we must use our younger players but when they come on and we lose everyone says the coach put too much faith in them. If fans want to see these youngsters then we must expect to lose more matches. Unfortunately this is generally the way it works. Leo played the right team imo, unfortunately we could not get the early goal which could have made Schalke nervous and bought the tie back to life.
To be honest I cant see us winning the coppa and would love to see Leo use the young guys in that and fight to secure third place. That would be satisfactory after the first half of the season. Then hopefully we will get a good pre season in, with a clear direction and purpose, and a team that suits the type of game we will play. Tough decisions need to be taken whether to rebuild a new team, moving on some older players, or continue with this project with the same core. At the moment it seems we are stuck in the middle of the two.

Posted by nima on 04/14/2011

I agree we can't play youngster and expect to dominate the world. We've done well finish as we are considering rafa ruined our team. Leo does need to work on some tactical issues as a manager himself as his defence strategy is awful. Players like maicon need to go as I see yuto and santon as future prospects. Mariga and Obi too need time to learn but at what expense. We are at a weird stage where we can still win cups but the kids also need games. A coaching dilemma which is why they get paid so much. Imo our defence needs new faces and viviano needs to replace julio who is constantly letting the lads down. Branca also needs to stop leaning our talent out and let them gel with the first team otherwise next season they will struggle while they gel. News of Wesley going and tevez is also exciting but our defence is the issue not attack. Goals conceded per game is awful under Leo but then again with out milito we still score a lot. Main issue is defence that's old and risky. Forza inter.

Posted by Pietro on 04/14/2011

If I have to choose between Cambiasso and Motta, I'd pick the 1st 9 times out of 10. It would not have changed that much anyway. Nina, sorry to say but I think Santon is useless and it's better to let him stay at Cesena 1-2 yrs. We won Italian Supercup and World Cup so I wouldn't rate 2010-11 a complete failure. Hard to judge Leonardo, sometimes I think AC Milan sent him to destroy the team, sometimes I admire his courage and ability to ultramotivate fans and players. In my opinion Moratti has to confirm or appoint the coach right now to plan the next transfer market in liason with the coach wishes and tactics.

Posted by Tunde Maryland on 04/14/2011

I'm not saying Inter should play a starting lineup of youngsters, but give players like Obi, Mariga Coutinhno some minutes. sure they can't all play at the same time, but in some games we can start with Mariga and give someone like Cambiasso a rest, that would not really drop our quality.

Posted by Austin on 04/15/2011

@ Tunde Maryland
Uh, Coutinho came on in this very game did he not? I'd just like to point out that Rafa gave Obi minutes and Coutinho starts and that is part of the reason things were going so poorly. As mentioned above, when you bring on kids you have to expect some less than classy performances. It's part of growing as a footballer.
@ Pietro
I agree. Motta scored but otherwise was flying in with rash challenges all game long. Cambiasso is much more influential than Motta for a reason.
@ Gianni
I agree with your comment about Raul. What class. He made a ballsy decision moving to a team like Shalke and it paid off for him. I have a lot of respect for the guy and was pleased for him despite our loss.

Posted by Sam on 04/15/2011

Have to agree with Austin about the kids. You do get some sub par performances from them on occasion. I think because every game has been a must win for Leo since he started he has not been able to rotate the squad as he would have liked. Even Mou was able to do this during the first half of 2010 when we lost a few games and let Roma catch up. It also allowed the players to be fresh for the final push which won us the treble. This year we had no such luxury and it is showing now.
I would also agree with Piero and Austin about Cambiasso and Motta. Cambiasso is still the man and Motta for me is no Xabi Alonso. He is supposed to be our deep lying playmaker but it just isnt happening. Pirlo return anyone?
Finally read a few people saying Zanetti is showing his age. I couldnt disagree more. He seems to be one of the only players who is consistant. He could stay till he is 50

Posted by Varun on 04/15/2011

I think Inter don't need an overhaul but a slight readjustment. The team is not at the dramatic stage of starting a new chapter. Let us not read too much into the last two-three weeks. My bet is Inter still finish 2nd in the league and win the Coppa. I don't know how Tevez will fit into the team to be honest, I would rather see Ganso at Inter.
The team is NOT as old as one would think. Cambiasso will be 31 Stankovic, Lucio and Samuel 33. They have one more good year in them at the least, which is why Inter need to invest for the future. So that 2011/12 can serve as a passing of the torch season. As for players that need to leave - Chivu, Cordoba, Materazzi and Pandev are right up there.
And new acquisitions Alexis Sanchez, he will cost a lot of money but by selling some of the dead-weight in the squad it is possible to make a move for him. In defence that is where Branca has a tough task.

Posted by Pietro on 04/15/2011

Varun you wrote what I wanted to say. We shouldnt judge this team only on the last two weeks basis otherwise we should conclude that Eto'o is finished!!! Our best player by far. It's been a strange season for with the World Cup after the triplete a new coach like Benitez and many players exhausted, then Leonardo came and our team started flying but the players were always the same tired ones that were always injured with RB. I'm convinced that with a proper summer pause followed by proper training players like Cambiasso, Maicon, Sneijder will play like under Jose. About Zanetti I agree 100% with Sam as our captain is phenomenal and can last few more years as only eto'o can match his atletic preparation.
And Nima how can you say Julio Cesar must be sold??? He is still the best keeper in the world, we all remmeber Bayern mistakes beacuse they are the only ones in years.

Posted by footyfetish on 04/15/2011

What about a new coach? I like Leonardo and I think he should be given another season to prove himself. But, if he were to be sacked, what are the best options out there? It'd be funny to get Carlo Ancelotti on our bench!! It's definitely not above Moratti to do something like that.

Posted by Austin on 04/16/2011

@ footyfetish
I think Leonardo is a better option than Ancelotti personally. What we clearly need (particularly if we're going to try and have a "passing of the torch" season as Varun put it) is a motivator first and a tactician second. Ancelotti is clearly lacking in the first and mediocre at the second (Torres, where oh where can we play him!?).
@ Sam and Pietro
Zanetti is showing his age, at least in the game against Schalke. Don't get me wrong, I love the guy and no one works harder, but those scathing runs he made all of last season in our champions league run are sorely lacking - he's fine as a defensive full-back, but his days running around on the wings are coming to an end very quickly. I don't think anyone will argue with me when I say we need to invest in width. Quaresma was supposed to be Mourinhos and it failed - but when Eto'o is playing on the wing due to lack of options it is a problem that needs to be remedied.

Posted by footyfetish on 04/17/2011

funny, I was watching Fox Soccer Channel last night and Bobby McMahon came on suggesting the exact same thing-- Ancelotti to Inter!! Another poor game today, maybe something's in the air...

@Austin -- totally agreed about Zanetti, the guy's a legend, deserves a bronze statue and all, but his time has passed. Big mistake leading to the second goal today.

Posted by nima on 04/17/2011

@pietro - my concern is that julio is making more n more errors which are costing points, when 2 mistakes in 1 game makes the team have to play out of their skins to redeem him, they will be tired in future games. The season is a marathon n julio has caused some major problems. Yea he's the best but next season is the passing of the torch. Viviano needs more games as does mariga n obi. Coutinho us doing well but my concern is our defence. Javier is divine but how long can we depend on him for? We have over 150 players on loan or co-owned let's bring the better ones into the rotation. Santon needs to learn to read the game but he kept ronaldo quiet for a full game so he can do it. A prob Is motta is inconsistent n looks very poor sometimes. I'd have aqualani, ganso won't come, tevez has issues, sanchez is a option...but its not a solution. We need 4 defenders, 2 midfielders and 2 strikers. Pandev, dejan, milito, motta, chivu, lucio, samuel, Ivan, matrix, all hav to go by 2013.

Posted by Austin on 04/17/2011

@ nima
Where did you get this Ganso won't come idea? Last I read on soccernet it was looking very likely?
@ footyfetish
I don't know if that first part of your post is a reference to mine or your own post for a second time, but just to clarify - I'm saying Ancelotti would probably not be the guy to get young and aging players motivated to play at their best. He's great when players have found their form and are at their peak (Chelsea last year) but not so much when they need a kick in the ass (Chelsea this year). I think we'd be foolish to give Leonardo half a season like Milan did last year. It's not fair on a guy who's pulled us out of the dumps. Rewind to like November and look at what people were saying about Inter then. Now we're moaning about no Champions League/Scudetto. Be reasonable.

Posted by footyfetish on 04/18/2011

@Austin That's what I meant, I'd like to see Leonardo stay for at least another season. But, I'm not so sure it'll happen. Whenever the media starts with all these rumors (re. Ancelotti) there's generally something happening behind the scenes. It was the same when everyone started talking about Benitez getting the boot, and the guy comes out saying he's still the coach and hasn't heard anything to the contrary. Sure enough, two days later he was officially out. Let's hope in this case the rumors are false.

Posted by nima on 04/18/2011

@austin well rumors are ganso is set for chelsea, or one of the Manchester teams or will switch to another Brazilian club. He has said he wants European football but if Leo for a then it would be hard to convince him of inter. Any ideas of Leo staying and Jose coming in as director role? Read on goal that Jose enrolled his kids at laguano near appiano training ground. Tevez could come due to the argi connection we have there but unlikely in my opinion. Also man utd want Wesley so he could be going next season too let's hope he has Passion for us and our owner won't cash in in him. We do need to keep Leo for longer though. We can't expect to win it all every yr guys. Swings n round about every club has an era. Milan, juve etc. Time to rebuild and still be in top 3 until its our time to dominate again. Forza beneamata.

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