Best Inter of the season defeated AC Milan 4-2 and allowed Juventus to celebrate their well deserved 28th Scudetto one week earlier than expected. But the new Campioni d'Italia are not the only ones who took advantage of other teams' results.
"We will keep fighting for the third place til the very end. Why giving it up earlier?" said Andrea Stramaccioni at the end of Fiorentina-Inter. A goalles draw in Florence is not enough to stop Inter coach's will to fight for a Champions League spot, but more than enough to spread the word about a pre-agreement reached between Moratti and Claudio Prandelli - the Italian national team current manager should head towards Appiano Gentile after Euro 2012.
Inter beat Siena 2-1 and climbed to the 7th place, only six points behind third placed Lazio.
With six games still to play, Nerazzurri have a very slim chance to clinch the third Champions League spot but, at least, they are back in contention to be in Europe even next season. Europa League 2012-13 is a more viable target. While that could be a distraction for a club of Inter's status, to miss out European football would be a huge stain.
"Sixty minutes played very well. Regret is having wasted a good hour of play by again conceding a goal after switching off for a set-piece. We were drawn to Vucinic at the front post, leaving Caceres alone in the middle. After that we didn't react and I'm sorry because we could have come away with a different scoreline after that first half," said Claudio Ranieri after Juventus defeated Inter 2-0.
One penalty missed by Milito [the second in a row] plus one not given to Gabbiadini makes double zero. That was Inter-Atalanta - Inter's fifth game without scoring out of the last seven played in the league.
Another last minute setback against Marseille and Inter are out of the UEFA Champions League. Two early saves from Mandanda denied Nerazzurri the ideal start and the team had to dig deep to find the energy to score late on with Diego Milito.
When extra-time looked a certainty Inter conceded a bizarre goal to Brandao who didn't miss after the ball had hit him on the back. Inter striker Pazzini scored a penalty a minute later but it was too late. Useless.
A present at the right time. Established 104 years ago on Friday, Inter returned to winning ways after six losses and two draws, just in time to prepare for the second leg of the last-16 Champions League clash against Marseille.
If Claudio Ranieri is given the chance to complete both legs of the Champions League tie with Marseille then he must thank Juan Pablo Carrizo. The Catania goalkeeper's blunder not only ended Inter's goal drought after 542 minutes but it also paved the way for Nerazzurri's mini-revival which led to Milito's equiliser. And if Pazzini hadn't missed a sitter at the end of the game, Ranieri could have boasted an incredible win against Catania. Not deserved, sure.
Five games without scoring is a record usually worthy of a relegation spot. Despite having lost 11 games out of 25 (only Genoa and the bottom three have more losses) Inter are still in 7th place instead of a more believable 17th.
Three nil, three consecutive defeats, three games in a row without scoring. Yes, Inter had happier moments. There is nothing to save from the game Nerazzurri lost against Bologna at San Siro. Arguably the only positive note, but you needed a microscope to spot it, came from Ranocchia's reaction in the second half after his dreadful 45 minutes, which stressed an unwelcome continuity with the centreback shocking display against Palermo.
Another hiding for Inter. This time no snow, no excuses, no Milito to save a team that didn't show up for the game.
Ranieri explained the loss was down to a lack of concentration: "We played our best game against AC Milan. Probably we gave everything then, even in terms of nerves, and after the derby our team needed a break, just to recharge mental batteries. The goal scored by Juan proves that. Despite analysing that move before the game, we allowed him to jump all alone in the very centre of our penalty box. Nothing to do with physical form, just lack of concentration".
Milito, Milito, Milito, Milito. If good sense had prevailed we'd never have seen the Prince's epic performance in the 4-4 draw against Palermo. The Argentinian forward shone and scored four goals but it was still not enough to defeat Palermo, a brave team whose hero was Fabrizio Miccoli who scored three goals. To schedule Serie A fixtures at 20.45 on the coldest nights of the year says everything about the people who rule Italian football.
Whilst searching for an eighth win, Inter lost! The writing was on the wall but maybe it arrived earlier than expected. The first blow in the league came after seven consecutive wins for Nerazzurri, but it's the second loss in a row after the 2-0 defeat at Napoli in the Coppa Italia. To lose against Lecce, who hadn't won in the previous 19 league games, is embarrassing for any top team but it should be more acceptable after the resilience shown by Serse Cosmi's team.
Another win, and against another top team too. After AC Milan, it's Lazio's time to lose against Inter, who have won the last seven games in Serie A; still six points from the top but Nerazzurri now have only three teams above: Juventus 41, AC Milan 40, Udinese 38.
Inter on cloud nine. Now we know why Claudio Ranieri was appointed by Moratti last September. After three consecutive derby defeats the Nerazzurri needed someone who could halt the losing streak and restore some local pride. And who’s better than Ranieri? Between Turin and Rome the former Chelsea manager won seven and drew one out of eight derbies.
Five goals to mark Inter's fifth win in a row and after twenty minutes Nerazzurri were already focusing on the next game. And there is no need to match the eventual sixth success in the upcoming derby with a similar tennis scoreline: against AC Milan a one-nil win would be more than enough for an Inter side that couldn't choose a better way to begin the new year.
"It's what we wanted for Christmas," said Claudio Ranieri after Inter's fourth win in a row. In the end it was 4-1 but it could have been 8-1 or 3-3. It could have gone either way. Dominating, hitting four times the woodwork in ten minutes and scoring twice still wasn't enough for Inter to kill the game and only two colossal mistakes by Corvia denied Lecce a possible equaliser.
A perfect weighed pass from Ricky Alvarez, met by a perfect header from Yuto Nagatomo gave Inter the most deserved win of the season. Nerazzurri defeated Genoa only by one goal margin but Inter display was the most convincing and solid so far.
Inter defeated Fiorentina 2-0 in a sort of derby between the two most disappointing teams of the 2011-12 Serie A season. For the first time Nerazzurri won without conceding nearly anything to their opponents and showed some progress in different areas. Especially in midfield.
Thank God, Giampaolo Pazzini missed a possible equaliser from the penalty spot. Sometimes draws or even wins can do more harm than a healthy defeat. Because a streak of poor Inter performances this month have been hidden behind 'results' and a reality check was needed; Pazzini's error provided it.
"Football is about glory, it is about doing things in style and with a flourish, about going out and beating the lot, not waiting for them to die of boredom".
Surely Inter Milan coach Claudio Ranieri never read nor heard anything of the great Danny Blanchflower, otherwise he'd have picked different words to comment Nerazzurri's last gasp win at Siena: "I'm very glad because my players fought bravely and in the end they got three points, and that was all that mattered".
First in something at last. Lille's win in Moscow and Inter's draw at Trabzonspor made sure Nerazzurri will finish top of Group B, which means not facing the likes of Bayern Munich and Real Madrid in the knockout stage. Finishing ahead of sides like Trabzonspor, Cska and Lille is not an epic achievement for a team like Inter. This should be the norm, and should be seen as routine.
Inter beat Cagliari 2-1. Three points that helped Nerazzurri to climb Serie A towards safer zones. However, to keep talking about the Scudetto, like Ranieri still does, is a travesty. Current leaders Juventus and Lazio have 22 points, Inter only 11 - a huge gap that mirrors the difference in hunger and condition between these teams. Let's be clear: Inter have no chance to overtake Juventus nor Lazio.
Juventus up, Inter down. Losing 1-2 at San Siro against Serie A's current leaders, who also happened to be Nerazzurri's most hated team, is not a normal loss. Not just because it reflects a new trend, but for several other reasons.
Drawing at Atalanta - arguably one of the best teams in Serie A at the moment and surely one of those in best shape - shouldn't be regarded as a bad result. But if you are closer to the relegation zone than the Champions League places you must win. And this is exactly where Inter have been since the beginning of the season. To reduce the gap from the top nothing less than winning any game is acceptable for Inter. Leonardo managed to do it brilliantly last season, recovering 16 points in nearly two months.
Inter's win over Chievo was one of those bread and butter wins that any team with ambition must easily accomplish to climb the table. It happened to be the first home win of the season but, it must be said, it was not one to remember. Inter's 1-0 defeat of Chievo was one of those games that can be easily forgotten but that will make all the difference at the end of the season.
Another away win. Since Ranieri's arrival Inter have lost two games at home and won three, all away. In the Champions League the coach who replaced Gian Piero Gasperini has a 100% winning record - two games, two wins, both away, both by a one goal margin, both defeating two average teams.
These CL wins, which came after a home defeat against Trabzonspor (under Gasperini), put Inter at the top of the group D with six points, two more than CSKA Moscow and Trabzonspor, four more than Lille. Their place at the top is not really in danger due to a shortage of decent opponents.
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.
"Can Inter-Napoli be decisive for the Scudetto?". "No. It comes too early, there is still a long way to go", said Mazzarri and Ranieri before the game. But both coaches consciously lied. They knew that these are the games that can define the season's prospects for the winner and the loser. Nerazzurri were in dire need of points but certainly weren't in need of any test, whereas Napoli needed to win this game to prove the 3-1 against AC Milan was not a fluke.
Winning in Moscow sounds good. Inter now are second, one point behind Trabzonspor. The Turkish side will be soon overtaken by Nerazzurri , who can be sure to reach the knockout stages on top [of the weakest group of the UEFA Champions League 2011-12].
Don't throw away what can be repaired. Claudio Ranieri started his job at Inter with a 3-1 win in Bologna and optimism is already back among Nerazzurri. The first win of the season did wonders: many players now say "Don't count us out of the title race". A club with no half measures.
"The truth is that I wanted Inter to play as a top team, capable to dictate the game. That's why I started with three forwards in Novara, I thought we could afford them. But I must admit that whenever we try to enforce the attack we suffer and concede too much room. At the moment Inter need to be humble and to play more defensively - we can't afford three forwards nor only three defenders," said Gian Piero Gasperini few minutes after the 3-1 defeat at Novara.
Serie A is only two games old but it seems Inter have been already written off as a title contender by their own president Massimo Moratti. His silence after the draw against Roma, as his face during the game, underlined no patience, no enthusiasm, no strong will to back the coach. Far more interested in sitting on the fence to wait for the next false move, to be free to name Gasperini's replacement [so many names spinning round... Figo, Baggio, Zenga, Delio Rossi, Claudio Ranieri... ]. A dangerous approach that is undermining Inter's 2011-12 season.
Did Trabzonspor deserve to win? Yes. Did Inter deserve to lose? No. Did Inter give everything? Yes. Did Inter play well? No. Football is not an exact science but despite its own apparent contradictions it always has some logic. Inter's lack of luck and results has a lot to do with Nerazzurri's shortcomings on and off the football pitch. Nothing to do with fate.
"This defeat will be a valuable lesson for our future. Anyway, it's a pity we lost. We took the lead when we were playing worse and we lost the match while we were in control of the game. We leave Palermo with some good things but also with lots of things that need to be fixed", said Giampiero Gasperini after his traumatic first official game as Inter coach.
Inter defeated Palermo 3-1 to win the Italian Cup for the seventh time - the fourth in the last seven years. Samuel Eto'o's brace and a late goal from Diego Milito buried Palermo's hopes of winning the first major trophy of their 111-year history.
Inter defeated Fiorentina 3-1 and sealed second place behind the new Italian champions AC Milan [congratulations]. This win ensures Nerazzurri will enter the next UEFA Champions League in the group stage.
The second place can't be a satisfactory prize for a team who won the last five Serie A titles. But the former Italian champions can be proud of the way they are conducting themselves through these last [almost meaningless] fixtures.
Inter won the first leg of their Coppa Italia semi-final in Rome, thanks to another great strike from Dejan Stankovic. The Serbian midfielder's goal was a real gem. A ray of light in the dark. Roma and Inter fans shared a very low amount of expectations from a game between two depressed sides [both teams lost the previous two games].
Fourth defeat in the last five matches. Inter's game in Parma confirmed that the former champions of everything [Italy, Europe, the World... all gone] are struggling to come to terms with a) the harsh reality that an exciting season with a treble in sight has turned into a double failure; b) the scary prospect of being treated and rated as a bunch of hasbeens.
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".
Inter won, Napoli won and AC Milan won. At reble of wins for Serie A's top three. None of them dominated but all of them got the expected three points. With six games left, and three teams within five points, anything can happen. But how could AC Milan drop more points than their two rivals against Sampdoria, Brescia, Bologna, Roma, Cagliari, Udinese?
Former champions of Italy, former champions of Europe (we can already say that after losing 5-2 to Schalke) and former champions of the World. Two defeats in three days were enough to spoil Inter's season. The way Nerazzurri lost against Schalke wasn't a perfect remake of the Derby della Madonnina defeat but it had some similarities - Chivu's sending off was just the most evident. But there was also something different.
One season in one minute, or even less. It took very little effort from AC Milan to win the battle of battles against Inter. The Milan Derby has rarely been so crucial for Inter, because rarely has there been so much at stake for Nerazzurri - a new Scudetto and a new treble in sight. The way the Italian champions wasted the chance to overtake their local rivals at the top of Serie A was amazing.
It's getting crowded up there. Five teams within eight points with eight games left. No natural selection: instead of reducing the number of teams involved in the title race, the current season's pattern seems to be going in the opposite direction. AC Milan lost in Palermo 1-0, while all the closest rivals won - Inter defeated Lecce 1-0; same scoreline for Lazio against Cesena; Cavani, sorry, Napoli beat Cagliari 2-1; Udinese edged out Catania 2-0. With eight games still to play the Serie A table says AC Milan 62, Inter 60, Napoli 59, Udinese 56 and Lazio 54. Five teams within eight points with 24 points available.
I have never considered Napoli and Lazio as serious contenders and I maintain my view despite the fact Partenopei are only three points from the top spot. Napoli's fortunes are too much Lavezzi related - without him not even Cavani finds the net, with him they can't do more than what they are doing now. So I do not see Napoli as a dangerous rival for AC Milan and Inter.
Inter's win in Munich is a very special one indeed as it has everything to be remembered as a classic not only by the two sides fans. Everything in abundance - Zanetti's last minute problems, drama, blunders, never-die attitude, alternate dominance, individual flair.
A very entertaining game which Bayern will remember as a lost occasion [too many missed opportunities] and Inter as an historical moment - Only once before, in the Champions League history, a team which lost the first tie at home managed to reach the qualification away. It happened 15 years ago to Jari Litmanen's Ajax. A side led by Louis Van Gaal. Fifteen years later the Dutch guru had the privilege to attend a footballing lecturing by his fellow countryman Wesley Sneijder.
Five points. Still five. AC Milan's win in Turin could have been lethal for Inter. The Rossoneri won both games against Napoli and [what remains of] Juventus, showing they are far more balanced and effective than one month ago. It's very hard to defeat AC Milan when Nesta and Thiago Silva are both playing with Van Bommel protecting them. They look very solid.
So Leonardo succeeded where even Jose Mourinho failed. Under the Portoguese coach Inter never won at Marassi against Sampdoria, whereas the Brazilian managed to achieve a win at his first attempt. The top spot now is in sight.
Julio Cesar's late blunder enabled Bayern to snatch a 1-0 away win. Despite an overall disappointing exhibition from the homeside, the Germans needed to wait until the very last minute to score with Mario Gomez's tap in. Unlucky Inter? Maybe we can say ‘unlucky Julio Cesar’, who had been consistent and spotless as usual for 89 minutes, but not Inter.
Three points and some more pressure on AC Milan and Napoli. Nothing else to savour as those three points are the only good thing produced by Inter against Cagliari, in a game decided by a sixth minute goal which should have been disallowed - Kharja's shot was deflected by Ranocchia, who was offside.
Black-and-white have never been Inter's favourite colours. Of course chromatism can't explain the reasons of defeats against Udinese and Juventus, the only two teams capable to beat Inter in 2011. Two very different games with some common traits. And Inter can learn a lot from both experience to start improving in some areas.
And it's seven wins in eight league games for Inter - 24 goals scored, 13 conceded. No wonder AC Milan feel the pressure of such an incredible goal-scoring-machine. No one can deny that the defending champions put themselves back in contention for the 2010-11 Scudetto. Only five points separate the two Milan teams and Nerazzurri have one game in hand - versus Fiorentina, not an easy one. But the general feeling is that the momentum has shifted from AC Milan to Inter.
What a game! W-h-a-t-a-g-a-m-e! Inter-Palermo produced five goals and some magnificent spells of exciting football from both sides. In a sea of mistakes some gems of pure footballing ability emerged. Pastore, Pazzini, Zanetti, Eto'o, Miccoli, Julio Cesar, Maicon - many glimpes of sheer class from all of them.
And it's semifinal again. Not a goal in 120 minutes in which Napoli dominated but Inter never gave in. Nerazzurri proved to be again a very solid team. After Udine defeat this game was a tough test and Leonardo can be proud of his players.
First defeat for Leonardo after five consecutive wins. It was going to happen sooner or later. It happened at the right time [plenty of games to bounce back] in the right place [Udinese are arguably Serie A's most exciting team].
A 5-star Inter got the fifth win in a row. Five wins out of five in 2011. A remarkable achievement for the new coach Leonardo who couldn't foresee a better impact on Nerazzurri. Inter are fourth, only six points behind AC Milan, with one game in hand.
No doubt: Serie A will be a two horse race. Despite a gap that's still huge, Inter are the only team capable to challenge AC Milan's lead. Nerazzurri trashed Bologna 4-1 playing with the same composure and intensity admired last season. But it's not the same Inter.
Nowadays Coppa Italia status is nearly a joke. Even players tend to forget these fixtures. Despite being reduced to a sort of familiar affair, the Italian cup can provide some entertainment to the few still interested.
Esteban Cambiasso's brace allowed Inter to reduce the gap with AC Milan from 13 to 11 points. Leonardo's arrival brought determination and points. Six in two games with two more games in hand - a potential gap of 'only' five points between the two Milan's teams. And now Inter look at the remuntada with higher hopes and increasing confidence.
The Brazilian coach was honest enough about Inter's performance against Catania: "We suffered a lot in the first half, whereas things improved after Pandev came in. Anyway, to suffer and to win without playing well is a very important sign. This win is more proof of Inter's character". Scudetto is not a lost cause anymore, that's the general feeling among Nerazzurri.
A good win. Inter defeated Napoli 3-1 to celebrate in the most appropriate way Leonardo's first game in charge and the 2010 five trophies parade which preceded the kickoff. The Scudetto plate, the 'Coppa Italia' and the Champions League trophies [won under Mourinho] placed next to the Italian Supercup and the Fifa Club World Cup [won under Benitez]. Inter's Curva did a classy thing showing a banner which read "Benitez: a sincere thanks from us, the only ones who always backed you". The Spaniard will appreciate this genuine gesture.
And now it's Javier Zanetti time to lift the trophy that 45 years ago was handed to Armando Picchi, after Inter won over Independiente their second Intercontinental cup in a row.
To clinch the third title in this competition, Inter did the decent thing and defeated TP Mazembe in a final which hardly will be remember as a classic.
Inter were supposed to defeat Seongnam and they did it. But no fanfare, please. Despite being Asian champions Seongnam could never be a threat for Inter or any other European champion. At club level the gap between Europe and Asia is still huge.
A superb game from Lazio's Brazilian ace killed Nerazzurri remaining hopes of a sixth straight league title. If AC Milan win at home to Brescia there could be 10 points between Inter and Serie A's top. Scudetto's gone, that's a certainty. And if the European champions keep playing this way even the Fifa Club World Cup could follow the same path.
After an early scare, Inter came from 1-0 down to beat Parma 5-2 at San Siro thanks to a Dejan Stankovic's hat-trick. It looks as an easy win but it was not. It could have been 5-5. Inter now trail Serie A leaders AC Milan by seven points after Rossoneri drew 1-1 at Sampdoria on Saturday.
Inter's five-match winless run was halted by a hard fought victory over Twente. Estaban Cambiasso's 55 minutes goal sent the Uefa Champions League holders into the last 16 and lifted some pressure on Benitez.
Orlandoni, Biraghi, Santon, Nwankwo, Crisetig, Natalino, Thiago Motta. This was Inter's bench against the Dutch champions. The most inexperienced list of players ever seen at a UEFA Champions League game. The hosts' injury plague still offering room for drama and laughs.
Inter paid the price for another dismal performance as they crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Chievo Verona at the Bentegodi Stadium. Sergio Pellissier fired the hosts in front in the first half and his substitute Davide Moscardelli scored the second with nine minutes remaining. And with only few seconds left Samuel Eto'o scored arguably the most meaningless goal of his career. The defeat leaves Inter nine points behind table-toppers AC Milan and six behind Lazio.
Inter paid the price for another dismal performance as they lost the derby 1-0 against AC Milan. An early goal from Zlatan Ibrahimovic gave Rossoneri a crucial victory as they defeated Nerazzurri to overtake Lazio at the top of Serie A.
Tottenham beat Inter 3-1. Deserved. Full stop. At White Hart Lane free flowing football came only from one side and the reason was plain to see from the beginning. Benitez’s decision to insist on pushing up instead of defending deep, which is necessary when forwards run quicker than your fullbacks, smelled of nonsense.
Mission accomplished. One goal, three points and now three days to prepare for the Champions League' away game to Tottenham. Julio Cesar and Esteban Cambiasso's muscular injuries are the only negative notes in a high-tempo game where Inter confirmed once more that last season killer-instinct is still intact.
The mark of a true champion is the ability to obtain results when playing badly. That's exactly what our Inter side did on Saturday (but with a considerable amount of luck). The win could not have come at a better time as the other "title contenders"all stumbled this weekend, with the most notable casualty being AS Roma who lose 5-1 to Calgiari. Milan continued to be themselves by playing like a mid-table team. But that’s enough about the rest, let’s continue to talk about the best: Inter.
Thank God it’s over. What sense does it make to have these one-off, glorified friendly matches? Absolutely none! There's no need for us Inter fans to get all hot a bothered about losing this match. So what if we lost the sextuple. If you didn’t notice, this “sextuple” is made up of 3 useless trophies: the Domestic Super Cup (that I only enjoyed because we got to stuff Roma), the European Super (waste of time), and the FIFA Club World Cup (i.e. The Mickey Mouse Cup that takes rest time away from exhausted players during Christmas).
The Italian Super Cup is a tournament that takes place before the start of every season. It pits the winner of the Coppa Italia against the winner of the Scudetto. Since Inter won both of those tournaments last season we had to play ourselves. Wait, what? That not possible is it.
Ahhh that’s right. When a team wins both the Coppa and the Scudetto in the same season, they are must play the runner up in the last league season for the Super Cup. In this case we had to play against AS Roma. Not only did Roma finish second in the Scudetto race last season, they just so happened to finish second in the race for the Coppa Italia. I’m beginning to see a trend here…
What an emotional rollercoaster of a season. I can’t believe that the league finished in the dramatic way it did. After a gruelling journey that stretched our players to their limits over 38 match days, we came out on top.
I’ve never felt a match move so fast when we didn’t have the lead, and then so slow when we did. Those last 30 minutes or so rivalled that of the 60 minutes at the Camp Nou. At the end of the day, we did it!
At this point we all know what transpired. It’s a great feeling to say the least. The UEFA Champions League Final - who would have thought that this “under-construction” Internazionale side would have come this far. We had to go through hell to make it.
The footballing gods must not like us that much as they pit us against Barcelona four times, and Chelsea twice. Mind you we also had to play the Champions of Russia and Ukraine on route to Madrid. To be a true champion one must defeat all other contenders whom call themselves champions. We did just that, but one last Champion remains to be conquered: The German Champs – Bayern Munich.
Florentina 2–2 Inter: This was a game that left me rather annoyed. I’m not entirely sure whom toblame, or if there is any blame to be placed at all. Both their goals came from strange situations. The first came from a very strange throw-in decision.
You guys remember how much I love Thiago Motta? Well guess what… This game concretes my man love for our good ole box-to-box midfielder. He’s prefect in every sense of the word. I’m so absolutely 100% ecstatic that we picked him up over the summer. Inter, for once, fulfilled a lifelong Football Manager fantasy of mine by purchasing him. Oh happy days…
I know it's a bit late, but better late than never i always say! I have a pretty good excuse though... I've been really sick as of late, the flu + allergies = death!!!
Good game. Not the best as we should have at least scored 3 on the night, but I’m happy with the 1-0 victory. The first half was balanced as CSKA showed that they came to the San Siro to play. Both teams had their fair share of chances in the opening 45. They looked very dangerous on the wings and I would lying if I told you I wasn't terrified when they went up Javier’s flank. Poor Zanetti got burnt a good few times by the Moscow winger on that side.
Livorno came into this match hoping to prey on Inter’s inability to perform as of late in Serie A. With Sneijder, Deki and Milito (technically) out I knew that Mou’ was going to use the 4-3-3 with Eto’o as the target man. Didn’t think he was going to make so many wholesale changes to the starting line-up though. The most surprising inclusion on the day was Cristian Chivu.
This was the perfect match. The players worked for the team like never before. You could see it in the eyes of every player on the pitch, each player on the bench, and the technical staff that they wanted to win this game at all cost. We set out on a mission and accomplished it with a certain level of skill and style that hasn’t been seen from Inter for a long time. The Champions League is a competition where luck plays it part in every match. In my view, the only luck I saw Tuesday was on Chelsea’s side. We should have put at least 3 past them on the night, but I’m (and I’m sure you are too) quite content with our 1-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. I won’t do a usually write-up of the game as we all already probably read what happened a million times over on sites across the internet. Rather, I’m going to talk about each player a little more in-depth.
***Warning: Mass amounts of Man Love is about to take place***
This is a game that should be soon forgotten. Im not going to do a normal write-up. It doesn't make sense to talk about a game when I have literally nothing good to say. Rather, I'm going to talk about something else: Formations.
Is euphoria the word that I'm looking for? No... If they didn't score their away goal it would be though. None-the-less I couldn't tell you how happy this result makes me. I'm sure there's a little extra pep in every Interista's step this morning.
The Bari result was one that many in Italy had hoped for. It reinforced a desire, if not quite a belief, that Inter are a team in decline, that Mourinho is a maverick showman, a self publicist, a manager that has little regard for the integrity of Italian football and is using Inter as a sabbatical prior to a return to the Premiership as manager of Manchester United.
There is little merit in these views. Inter's team against Bari underlined Mourinho's pragmatic approach to football - the result is paramount.
The new stars had different experiences. Eto’o and Lucio had never played in Serie A before and this was obvious. Games and time will reveal if they can play in the environment of passionate, high expectation Italian football. Milito and Thiago Motta have had the benefit of one season in Italy and fared better.
The two week break between Matchday 1 ( August 22/23) and Matchday 2 (August29/30) because of World Cup qualifying fixtures permits me to offer a retrospective approach towards Inter’s first two games, in addition to an overview from Italian fans, press, rumours and general gossip.
Inter played their first game at the Guiseppe Meazza stadium as defending champions against newly promoted Bari, reappearing in Serie A after a break of 8 years. Over 53,000 fans attended this eagerly awaited start to the season with Bari bringing an impressive 3,000 from the deep south of Apulia, a journey of over 20 hours by train round trip and a distance of 1,900 kms. We all braved the heat which was 93 degrees F at the start and a balmy 85 F at full time but not in the Inter dressing room.
Inter played very well that night in total contrast to the Bari performance. I cannot deny that ACM were outplayed and I am glad that they were comprehensively beaten. After all I am an Interista. However, it is important to recognize that ACM were inept, disorganized, slow and unsure. It is not my remit to write extensively about other teams but ACM have serious problems both on and off the pitch. Inter took ruthless advantage of this. ACM’s appalling performance helped make Inter look better than they really are. As they say in England, “ One swallow does not make a summer.” That said the thrashing of your closest rival is very satisfying. Only 36 matches left, how many for Leonardo?
The 3 days preceding this game, known as the Derby della Madonnina were as frenetic and theatrical as the 3 days following the disappointing draw with Bari. The Italian press & T.V. made this game one that could decide Mourinho’s future. If ACM won, Inter would be 5 points behind them and probably the same behind Juventus. The stadium was an 80,000 sell out, the tension palpable and it was easy to forget that this was only the second match of a 38 game campaign.
Gianni Serra is a European football journalist. He currently writes for lechampions.it, covering international club competitions such as the UEFA Champions League, the Copa Libertadores, the CAF Champions League, the O-League. You can follow him on twitter: @gianniserra20