Seventeen out of twenty. Just one place above the relegation zone. Well, Serie A is only six games old and we have never experienced at this stage a table with 13 teams within four points [this is the gap between the leaders, Juventus and Udinese, and the 13th AC Milan], but Inter's position is the epitome of a team in crisis.
Despite a new coach, a different system of play, a different... everything, the outcome of the Catania game was the same as against Novara, where Gasperini lost his job.
Fielding an ultra-cautious midfield - Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari and Stankovic, ideal to protect Esteban Cambiasso's sixth minute goal, in theory - wasn't enough for this Inter to defend the lead. Nerazzurri allowed Catania to score twice in the first six minutes of the second half - Almiron at the 47th minute and Lodi from the penalty spot four minutes later. Still plenty of time to recover but no trace of reaction from Inter.
After an hour, Claudio Ranieri tried to shake up the team, introducing Alvarez and Zarate to replace the ghosts of Stankovic and Milito. Two more minutes and Samuel had to be substituted for Cordoba (and you can bet the Colombian would have liked to return in a better situation - the back four was a mess actually). Despite the triple change the script wasn't affected - Castellazzi saved twice against Delvecchio and Catellani, denying Catania's third goal.
Next stop will be Lille in Champions League. Sneijder, Julio Cesar and Chivu should all be available. But the problem with Inter is not a player. When you have too many seasoned top-players, sometimes it's hard to motivate them against teams like Novara or Catania. On the other hand they do not have enough in the legs to compete against the European giants [which at the moment are Barcelona, Manchester United and Bayern Munich].
Inter will certainly improve their position in the League but have no chance to win any silverware in Europe this season and in the next one or two. Last season the team showed some problems, and selling the best player wasn't the best way to fix them. Catania was just the last reality check. For someone, maybe, the first.
Serie A 2011-12 / Day 6
Catania: Andujar; Bellusci, Spolli, Legrottaglie; Izco, Almiron, Lodi, Ricchiuti (69' Delvecchio), Marchese; Gomez (81' Catellani), Bergessio (66' Lopez). Coach: Montella
Inter: Castellazzi; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel (62' Corboba), Nagatomo; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Muntari, Stankovic (60' Alvarez); Milito (60' Zarate), Pazzini. Coach: Ranieri
Goals: Almiron 47', Lodi 51' pen; Cambiasso 6'
Yellow cards: Spolli, Delvecchio, Bellusci; Castellazzi, Zarate