The starting eleven, with Stankovic replacing Pandev, made much more sense. The Serbian midfielder opened the game with a wonderful goal from the halfway line but unfortunately he had to leave 24 minutes later. Deki very often looks worn out but as Zanetti is the only midfielder in the squad [the forgotten Obi is the other one] willing to chase and press the opponents when they have the ball at their feet. Thiago Motta and Cambiasso never do it - their defensive skills are based merely on positioning; it means that the opposition’s midfielders and forwards arrive at the edge of the Inter penalty area at full speed, and so it's very hard for the back four to avoid embarrassing situations, which are becoming Inter's new trademark.
I've just read some of your comments about the game against Schalke and I share your views. However, I'd like to single out two more problems. Very big ones in my opinion.
1. Midfield formation and composition. Inter played against Schalke with the diamond, which is the best way to utilise the Milito-Eto'o partnership. However, to field a very effective and balanced diamond you need to have two playmakers in the vertical line [one before the back four and one behind the two strikers] and two workhorses on the horizontal line. The best diamonds I have ever seen playing were Liverpool's (Souness, with Case or Lee on the right, the great Ray Kennedy on the left and Terry McDermott behind Dalglish and Johnson/Rush) and AC Milan's (Ancelotti, with Colombo on the right, Evani on the left and Donadoni behind Gullit and Virdis/Van Basten). A perfect combination of dynamism and skills.
Inter's diamond vs Schalke was: Thiago Motta and Sneijder as playmakers, with Stankovic (then Kharja) and Cambiasso wide. No one can deny that Cambiasso is out of depth there - his natural position is Motta's and Leonardo should alternate or choose between the two for that spot. It’s nearly the same story for Stankovic, who can play everywhere, but with different results - his best position is behind the strikers, so I'd alternate him with Sneijder, which would be the first choice (but playing every three days you need to rotate some players). There is a lack of workhorses at Inter so those are the players I'd chase in the next transfer market.
2. Maicon's condition. The Brazilian has been Inter's not-so-secret-weapon for the last three years. Not this season. His contribution is fine for a normal fullback but it's very average and disappointing for a player of his level. He used to be a sort of playmaker on the right, capable of creating chances and to break defences. At the moment he can't dribble, he can't cross, he can do very little. It's amazing how Inter managed to hide all these weaknesses for so long.
MAN OF THE MATCH: Diego Milito. What a surprise to see him in such a good form. Sharp and confident from the word go. He was the player who forced Neuer out of his area, opening the goal for Stankovic's wonderful shot. At the minute 8 the Argentinian striker dribbled past two German defenders and put a lovely ball on Sneijder's head -in that very minute we could appreciate the old Milito, who confirmed the positive first impression with a goal, nearly two. A very encouraging sight, obscured by a shambolic team performance.
Champions League 2010-11 / Quarter finals 1st leg
INTER-SCHALKE 2-5 (2-2)
Inter: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Ranocchia, Chivu, Zanetti; Stankovic (24’ Kharja, 63′ Cordoba), Thiago Motta (76′ Nagatomo), Cambiasso; Sneijder; Eto’o, Milito. Coach: Leonardo
Schalke: Neuer; Uchida, Howedes, Matip, Sarpei; Farfan, Papadopoulos, Jurado (83′ Draxler), Bamjohann (76′ Schmitz); Raul (87′ Karimi), Edu. Coach: Ralf Rangnick
Referee: Atkinson (England)
Goals: Stankovic 1’, Milito 34’; Matip 17’, Edu 40’, 75′, Raul 53′, Ranocchia 57′ og
Yellow cards: Stankovic; Farfan, Sarpei, Papadopoulos
Red card: Chivu (61′)
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