The Scudetto that costs nothing
With a maximum of 6 points left to be collected in order to clinch the Scudetto some people are still considering this year’s title as unworthy. The reasons behind this are to be respected but are to be opposed also.
Penalisations: After the Calciopoli scandal, which saw Juventus being demoted to Serie B and Milan starting with an 8-point disadvantage, Inter were labelled as hot favourites to win the title. They were labelled as favourites due to these penalisations and also thanks to the squad, which Massimo Moratti had presented to Mancini. Inter needed to prove that they were the best, and to do this they had to dominate. In fact they did, with flying colours.
Records: The 17 consecutive victories will be written in the history of European football. This record is the best out of the major European Leagues (England, Germany, Spain and Italy). Inter beat the Real Madrid of Puskas and Effenberg’s Bayern Munich (15 consecutive victories) and locally, they beat Roma’s record of 11 consecutive victories. Looking at Inter’s 17 victories and Roma’s 11 consecutive victories makes the record more prestigious since the opponents which Inter beat were much harder:
INTER -LIVORNO 4-1
MILAN -INTER 3-4
INTER -ASCOLI 2-0
PARMA -INTER 1-2
INTER -REGGINA 1-0
PALERMO -INTER 1-2
INTER -SIENA 2-0
EMPOLI -INTER 0-3
INTER -MESSINA 2-0
LAZIO -INTER 0-2
INTER -ATALANTA 2-1
TORINO -INTER 1-3
INTER –FIORENTINA 3-1
CHIEVO –INTER 0-2
Lazio -Roma 0-2
Roma -Empoli 1-0
Siena -Roma 0-2
Roma -Cagliari 4 -3
Roma -Livorno 3 -0
Udinese -Roma 1-4
Roma -Reggina 3 -1
Roma -Milan 1-0
Treviso – Roma 0-1
Protagonists: The protagonists of this magical season were without any doubt Ibrahimovic and Materazzi. The Swedish forward was highly anticipated once he signed for Inter. People knew that he was going to add many elements to Inter’s forward line. Technique, vision, assists and goals is what he delivered throughout. With 6 games to go Ibrahimovic is Inter’s top scorer with 15 goals in the championship. The only regret is his goal tally in European action, in which he failed to bag any goals.
On the other hand, Italian centre back Marco Materazzi was a leader. His World Cup displays continued for Inter and his absence was felt whenever he wasn’t around. His goal account adds up to 6 and who can forget his overhead kick against Messina? Amazing.
Surprise Protagonists: To fill Zanetti’s boots one would need to buy a beast but it took an unknown (to a certain extent) Douglas Sisenando Maicon to complete the task. No one could ever imagine that with 5 million euros one could buy such a great talent. Very confident in going forward, delivering crosses and able to defend too. Labelling him the next Cafu wouldn’t do any harm.
Many questioned the transfer of Dacourt but the French never disappointed. In the absence of Cambiasso and Vieira he filled the place very well. Battled for every ball, played also when he wasn’t 100%. The guy really deserves big thanks when looking at his age.
Back to the South Americans and it was Argentine Julio Cruz to have another great season following last years’, which earned him a place at the World Cup. The loyal striker scored whenever he came on. Whereas Inter in the Champions League was below-standards he was the one to shine out of our strikers. 3 crucial goals in 4 games saved our group campaign. Adriano’s second consecutive poor season and Mancini’s turnovers made way for “El Jardinero” to partner Ibrahimovic and score 6 goals in 13 appearances.
Mancini: Mancini knew that this was to be Inter’s year. Many doubted that he would be able to handle such a group of world-class players. He created a group, a team in which everyone feels important. Solari and Burdisso were used in a very wise way throughout the season. Many doubted the Argentine defender but his appearances as central back were convincing and his goals were crucial both in the league (2 in 20 games) and Coppa Italia (4 in 6 games).
Solari was positive whenever he played especially in the direct encounter against Palermo where Mancini used him to press Corini backwards. That game also highlighted another brilliant tactical decision of Mancini where he inserted Adriano instead of Crespo and finally he was rewarded with two assists from the Brazilian.
Mancini used the same method against Milan where he marked Pirlo using Stankovic, when everyone expected Vieira or Cambiasso to do so. Stankovic kept going forward forcing Pirlo to drop back and in fact the Serb grabbed the second goal of the game too.
When Inter faced Lazio at the Olimpico and Zlatan was sent off he put on Adriano to keep Lazio back rather than wait and defend. Inter grabbed a second goal which sealed the victory.
Mancini made Inter look like a chameleon; they changed their game type according to the situation.
Season disappointments: It’s hard to find but no one is prefect. From a squad point of view Grosso and Mariano Gonzalzez were the least effective. Grosso looked tired after a devastating World Cup but his performances during the late phase of the league were better. Gonzalez wasn’t used that much, most probably due to the formation which Mancini discovered this season with a 3 man midfield. The absence of wingers gives Mariano limited chances to play. During the Coppa Italia games he was used as a playmaker behind Cruz in a 4-5-1 formation. He, along with Recoba, is the only offensive player who hasn’t scored for Inter this year in the league . If Inter sell the guy it wouldn’t be a surprise.
On a competition level it is quite obvious that the major disappointment is that regarding the Champions League. Inter had the chance to focus completely on it due the big gap which separated them from Roma but a knockout phase could go either way. Inter missed their chances at the San Siro against Valencia, conceded 2 goal from 2 set pieces and they paid the price. Too bad that the encounter came at the worst time possible where midfield duo Cambiasso and Vieira were missing whilst Valencia hit top form since they had recuperated all their injured players. Tough luck, better luck next time..
Credit by others: There are people who have recognised Inter’s strength this season and amongst those were:
Spalletti right after Inter 1-3 Roma- “They deserve to win the title for everything they have done this season.”
Buffon about transfer rumours relating him to Inter- "Inter? If I was clever the first side to which I would go would be Inter because they are the strongest and they could win in the next few years"
Galliani about Inter months after declaring that Milan would catch up with Inter- “Milan is playing well in the last month, we're second only to Inter”
When credit is to be given it should be given. No supporter can state that the penalisations were the reason why Inter won, Inter won because they had consistency: the only thing that earns you titles. Roma’s ability cannot be questioned but since they lacked consistency they failed to keep up with Inter.
Overall impression: No one can deny the fact that Inter were brilliant this season. They displayed wonderful attacking football and the statistics confirm this; 66 goals in 32 games resulting in the best league forward line. Winning the Serie A is always difficult; it is going to be a long time since we see a dominant team like Inter this season. Juventus bagged up 91 points during their match-fixing season, a tally that can be equalled by Inter with 2 more wins and 2 draws. Inter beat Milan and Fiorentina twice, Palermo during their top form, Lazio at the Olimpico (2nd game yet to be played) and Roma at the Olimpico (credit for Roma for being the only team to beat Inter yet).
Had Inter won the Scudetto with Milan being 8 points behind them and Roma just trailing with 2-3 points all Inter fans would have been disappointed and the media would have made a feast out of Inter but this is not the case. Inter never lost to penalised teams and the gap between them and all the rest of Italy demonstrates who actually was the best. The league table FINALLY shows practically everything thanks to no corruption.