Some thoughts about last weekend and the next. Inter lost 3-1 at Parma. Now third place is highly unlikely but still possibile. Three points away. Quite incredible to say after such a negative season.
- I had written Inter off for a Champions League spot, quite early this season. I thought that Juventus, AC Milan, Lazio, Udinese, Napoli and even Roma were more motivated, hungrier and better balanced. Something changed but not that much. I thought Inter couldn't finish higher than 5th or 6th and still believe so. At Parma Nerazzurri wasted another golden opportunity to reach an undeserved third place. Maybe it's better for Inter to miss this target as it could have led Moratti to save too many players who should leave.
- Lucio has been great for years. A true warrior, never afraid of anyone, always there to help and to take risks if needed. But, quoting Eamon Dunphy's Only a Game? (my favourite football book), it's shocking to realize how rapid the descent is from pinnacle to valley. Sadly Lucio, but also Maicon, Chivu, Stankovic are already below sea level.
- Many pundits said that Parma defeat cancelled Stramaccioni's slim chances to keep his job permanently. I suspect he had none. The 3rd place, which means playing Champions League football, would have helped Stramaccioni's cause and made life harder for the board but an agreement with Claudio Prandelli was already reached.
- Stramaccioni turned out to be a good coach. Capable to sort out straight away Inter's most evident problem: at the time of his appointment Nerazzurri simply couldn't score against any team. He fixed it. He also understood the potential of Obi; managed to combine the different talents of Alvarez and Sneijder; until was fit, used Zanetti on the flanks; tried to accomodate as many offensive players he could, trying to lift pressure from the defense. Lots of things in a very short time. The risk to see Stramaccioni flourish somewhere else is nearly a certainty. A remake of what happened with players like Santon, Viviano, Destro, Biabiany, Jonathan (both good for Parma last Sunday).
- Derby time. With only two games left, Inter players are likely to be the ones who will hand the Scudetto to Juventus or to AC Milan. Tertium non datur. No escape, not a third way. One of the two rivals will be pleased by Nerazzurri performance. I have heard many Inter fans who prefer losing the Derby than helping Juventus to win the title. Not so strange, it happens. However, Juventus played serie A's best football this season, just like Udinese's did one year ago. If they manage to stay on top, Bianconeri would be worthy winners. I am talking about the coach and the players. The third star argument raised by Juventus' board confirmed Agnelli & co. as a bunch of arrogant puppets still in the hands of Moggi & Giraudo. Even relegation still too much for all of them.