Blucerchiati - Nerazzurri
Stadio Luigi Ferraris
GMT: 8:45 PM
AST/EAT: 10:45 PM
EST: 3:45 PM
Sampdoria: W W W D L
Inter: L D D W W
Inter Stats & Top Performers:
Inter Injuries and Suspensions:
Nagatomo, Jonathan, Vidic, Dodò and Kovacic?
Beware, Mr. Good Form.
Sampdoria Stats and Top Performers:
Sampdoria Injuries and Suspensions:
De Vitis, Munoz, Cacciatore and Rizzo.
After the draw with Cesena at home, the race for a top 3 finish, regardless of its probability, withered away on a dreadful Sunday night. Hell, you could even say that it was Cesena who lost two points and not the other way around as they stood their ground against an unimaginative and soulless Inter. On the standings front, the victories of Lazio and Fiorentina certainly did not help but this observation should come from someone who genuinely believed that we were in this Champions League ticket race in the first place…
After the draw, a new tone emerged by some of the supporters here against Roberto Manicni, ironically from a portion of his avid supporters, that laments the disappointment on his (and the team’s) inability to withhold the constant public promises of a 3rd spot finish. Not to mention his bold claims on a scudetto hunt next season when the squad’s only sign of consistency is the persisting new flaws we uncover on a weekly basis, be it defensive gaffes, neutered attack, exposed midfield, players limitations… etc.
In the end, he brought it on himself but more on him later...
Whether it was an emotional outburst in the match thread or an undisclosed private thought, I suppose most of us conceded that the season is practically over. Unless you’re part of the devoted yet deluded mass, you need to readjust your expectations, mainly to avoid another letdown. Hence my indifferent reaction to the Cesena draw. Don’t get me wrong, I was infuriated with those two hours of boredom that reaffirmed my doubt in this team’s lack of cohesion, as Universe pointed out in his post-match comment. It was more of a final blow to our goals, a notion that Mancini himself admitted in the post-match presser:
"This was a game that, had we won it, would have taken us to within seven points of Napoli with 11 games to go. I'm naturally an optimistic person and I had hoped we might have been able to do a little bit more than this.
"With 39 points, anything could have happened -- it would only have been seven points to make up in 11 games -- but it's pretty difficult now. Unfortunately we're alternating good games with bad ones and I can't be happy tonight."
Forget the 10 points gap with Napoli prior to Sunday, there were 3 in-form teams ahead of us in the standings table that some of us selectively chose to forget about or wished they’d drop points. It was a naive thought especially when one of those 3 teams, Fiornetina, taught us a tactical lesson a week earlier even though they’re suffocating in this month’s ‘death’ fixtures run. Even as I write this preview, highlights from the capital show Viola thrashing Roma 0-3 in the Europa League second leg. So, in three weeks, they have defeated Inter, Juve (coppa), Milan, Roma (Europa), and only lost to Lazio, another in-form team that lacks continental duties. And people expect us, a team that was trailing at home to Cesena, to replicate such achievements?
On a side note, can you imagine the experience Montella gained in this hectic period?
Zero Year #6:
As tedious and repetitive as it is, the focus should be on next season… for the sixth year in a row. However, that feat requires a reliable structure that we sadly don’t possess. The game against Wolfsburg in the Meazza proved that. Think about it, who on this squad is a safe bet to build the team around from the back? I specified the rebuilding phase to the defense because in any general assessment, the unanimous vote would definitely go to Icardi after his recent progress. When we look at the available options on our CBs roster however, the fragility resurfaces between a captain whose commitment to the club is merely a verbal reassurance despite his good form, a youngster who has been regressing for a while now, a disturbed senior, and a good backup in Andreolli. Does that sound like a title-challenging core, Mister Mancini?
What about the midfield? Clearly the double pivot of Medel-Guarin against Wolfsburg was outstretched numerous times as Kevin De Bryune escaped the clear instructions of double marking to assist the first goal. What about Kovacic? The kid that brought a substantial depth to our offensive game tonight, why was he on the bench these past few weeks? Wouldn't playing him be more beneficial for his and our development? The lack of depth was also alarming once Mateo was subbed for an injury in the second half.
That being said, Mancini did join the project in the last four months which requires patience and an equal chance like the one Mazzarri had. Even though I still question the decision to build our transfer policy on the now abandoned 4231 formation. Regardless of our evaluation to Mancini tenure so far, we can’t deny the man’s ability to assess a squad’s shortcomings. At least that’s what the recent comments by Micah Richards indicate. For those of you who didn't read them, it seems that Roberto contacted Micah (on loan at Viola) during the winter mercato and expressed his desire to build a team for the future. The man knew at the time that his freedom with experiments was short and despite that he made those irrational claims, which is the most vivid flaw in his man management since December.
We Are Inter:
Most of you know that I follow Cagliari as much as Inter this season, and if there’s one thing I learned from this experience is that we are not different physiologically from the rossoblu despite the contrasting positions on the table. Let me try to explain what I mean through the form list of the league’s last five games. (Latest result starts from the right)
I’d like you to shift your attention away from the positions of Lazio, Firorentina, and Sampdoria for a minute and focus on the two teams directly above us; Verona and Chievo. Now, look at the last 3 results and readjust the rankings once more, you will see that the likes of Cesena have 1 win and 2 draws while Empoli came back to earn 3 draws. That’s four relegation candidates leapfrogging us these past 3 weeks, which says a lot about their will to collect scattered points from the big clubs (Inter, Roma, Milan, and Napoli) before the ‘drop verdict’ on May 17th.
This situation drove Cagliari's realistic (and not defeatist, I hate that word) supporters at unionesarda to concede their relegation in what was a failed campaign as they set their sights on returning to Serie A one day. The lack of resilience has been the bane of Cagliari’s season, a team that has produced decent football but lacked the urgency to defend a lead and the hunger to seal a win. What about Inter you say? Well, replace "Caglairi" with Inter, "relegation" with Champions League, and reread the earlier sentence..
Look at the top ten...
There was a time, ironically not long ago, where the importance of the derby della Capitale revolved solely around the city’s dominance as Roma and Lazio battled it out for a top five finish. Today, we along with Milan find ourselves in the same spot the capital clubs were living as the significance of the derby della madonnina no longer holds a direct value on the title race or the Champions League battle. How times have changed. It should also be a reality check for Manicni that the "proud Inter" he speaks of no longer exists as the foundations laid eight years ago have long gone. What we're left with now are the patches that were brought in at various transfer stops to fix a rapidly declining squad after the treble.
Black Jesus said (dear God, you don't say that everyday) that there's nothing to get excited for anymore, and even though I'm inclined to agree with him, it's hard to stay away, isn't it? Well anyway, if Mancini is serious about ushering a new dawn for Inter, then he'd better change his starting eleven preferences, enlist an tenacious attitude in the players or at least make them fight for the colors of the shirt, let them send a message to the other 19 teams that they got a pass this time and we're ready next year for a real rumble. And for pete's sake Mancio, stay quiet like Montella and Pioli instead of making hollow promises every week.