After a two week layoff for National Team Duty, Serie A resumes with Inter away to Palermo and suffer a 3-2 defeat in Sicily. It was a fantastic Palermo and an awful Inter. Maybe the worst Inter we have seen under Mancini. Not sure where the blame is to fall but Inter were totally out played and looked tired all over the pitch. Iam sure the travel due to many internationals midweek is a factor but the manner in which Inter lost was awful.
Inter were not one step behind they were five steps behind all game. Palermo players had much more energy and were first to every ball. Although the scoreline seems close, the game was anything but as Palermo were leading 3-0 going into the final minutes and could have had many more if not for two crossbars hit by Palermo and Julio Cesar in making at least 3-4 miracle saves.
Mancini made several changes to the squad that beat Treviso in week one. He still played a 4-4-2 formation but played with Veron and Pizzaro at the same time with Cambiasso and Kily in the midfield leaving Stankovic and Figo on the bench.
Right from the first whistle Palermo demonstrates that they are in perfect form and above all a well organized team. Corini in the midfield does what both Pizzaro and Veron cannot as he controlled the tempo of the game, spread balls and made runs off the ball into space. On the wings Palermo totally had the upper hand as Grosso and Bonanni won the battle on the left side since Veron always cut into the middle leaving Ze Maria alone to defend.
Up front Makinawa and Caracciolo were also better than Martins and Adriano who never really combined well and were forced to come deep into the midfield to get service as nothing was arriving for them up top. Palermo get there goal at the 20th minute from a free kick. Its the Captain Corini who scores an amazing free kick above the wall and into the top corner that no goalie in the world could save to make it 1-0.
Inter suffered the organization and pressing of Palermo. Adriano and Martins try to combine and do so only when they are 30 meters away from goal as the Palermo defence kept them outside. Adriano was only able to manage a shot from a great pass from Veron but the Palermo Keeper saved for a corner kick. Even after going down 1-0 Inter never had the legs to come back into the game as they were slow on every possesion.
The K.O. punch comes early in the second half as Palermo pin Inter back after the halftime break. Palermo comes out flying again and create 3 goal scoring chances in 5 minutes but Julio Cesar was fantastic making save after save to keep Inter in the game. In that sequence Cesar also made another save that pushed the ball onto the crossbar.
It was too much to handle even for Cesar and from the resulting corner kick, Corini sends in the ball and Zaccardo climbs higher than all to score and make it 2-0 early in the second half. Mancini responds by taking off Kily who had a horrible game and brings on Figo. His play was positive but much like the rest of the team was a step behind and could not change things for the better.
Inter's play was too concentrated in the center of the pitch with both Veron and Pizzaro playing together and it left the wings exposed both on offence and defence. Mancini orders Veron to stay wide on the left and play a traditional 4-4-2 but Veron is not a winger and will never be.
Inter does try to come back into the match with a few sparks but its Palermo who get the third on a counter attack as Santana dribbles down the left side and just undresses Ze Maria allowing him to cross into the area. Makinawa at the far post heads a bouncing header past Julio Cesar and into the net to make it 3-0.
The game ended at that point. Mancini takes out Martins and tries his luck with Recoba and Cruz and Inter do pull two goals back as Cruz scores two goals at the 40th and 49th minute but it was too little too late. To be honest the miracle comeback was not deserved anyway as Palermo fully deserved the 3 points and kicked Inter off the pitch.
Lets just chalk up this defeat to a bad day. Players may have been tired from National Team duty and travel so lets hope they do better in midweek. I think the gamble Mancini took playing Veron and Pizzaro together was a mistake as all though they played well individually it totally unbalanced the formation and made life difficult as a whole for the team.