Inter created enough scoring opportunities against Napoli and Lecce to win both games but ended up with two losses. It can happen. Luck didn't help, whereas it did in some other games that Inter won without doing too much. Too simple an explanation?
Milito nearly exploited Benassi's only mistake of the game but his shot went wide: the unlucky outcome summarized the difference between previous wins and this loss. As the Prince's display wasn't below his recent standards, the same could be said of Inter. Lecce's win was sealed by a strike against the post and by two great saves from Benassi, one of the two really outstanding.
But, despite Inter doing enough to earn a draw or even more, Ranieri's choices have been questioned for the first time by the same ones who hailed him as a genius for playing Alvarez out of position. It’s too easy, and also wrong, to blame this defeat on the introduction of Sneijder into the starting eleven or with his substitution. Ranieri's choice to adopt a diamond in midfield to accommodate the many talents of the mercurial Dutchman, after two months spent with the 4-4-2, was a must after Sneijder was Inter's best player against Napoli.
However, considering his long layoff and how injury-prone Sneijder is, it was a mistake to start with him for the second consecutive game in less than three days. Certainly, after the spat with Pazzini, it was a mistake to replace Sneijder with Alvarez at half time when Inter were already one goal behind. Not a very clever move.
As it's not very clever to stick week in week out with the same 12-13 players. Rotation is needed in great sides to keep players fresh, motivated and in form. Did really Ranieri think to save the game with Zarate's introduction? A player frozen out for a couple of month now was required to come to the rescue. Obviously he failed. It happened to be the former Lazio forward but it could have been Castaignos, Poli, Coutinho... Oh, Coutinho.
Inter are desperately trying to loan the young Brazilian out until the end of the season, whereas Ranieri and the board are doing the best to convince Thiago Motta to delay his transfer to PSG for six more months. A resource treated as a problem and a problem as a resource: this approach is Ranieri's real mistake, not an undeserved defeat at Lecce.
Serie A 2011-12 / Day 20
LECCE-INTER 1-0 (1-0)
LECCE: Benassi; Oddo, Miglionico, Tomovic; Cuadrado, Giacomazzi (78' Obodo), Blasi, Olivera, Brivio; Muriel (72' Seferovic), Di Michele. Coach: Cosmi
INTER: Julio Cesar; Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, Nagatomo; Zanetti, Cambiasso, Obi (73' Zarate); Sneijder (46' Alvarez); Pazzini, Milito. A disp: Castellazzi, Cordoba, Ranocchia, Chivu, Poli. All: Ranieri.
Goal: Giacomazzi 40'
Yellow cards: Cuadrado, Muriel, Olivera