Summertime. Quite a peculiar moment for Inter fans. Every year, there's an atmosphere of great expectations, combined with scepticism.
This August is no exception. Lots of new faces, a new, young coach, the expectations are high.
This adventure is just starting, but we're already at a crucial moment: we need to qualify for the Champions League.
Indications from the first leg were somehow contradictory: good performances from Stankovic, Adriano, Cordoba, Ze Maria and Favalli. But the team was struggling a lot in the second half, energy was lacking.
Mancini and the medical staff had to find a compromise about training: the preparation must be planned so that the players will be in top form for the middle of September. But they have to take into account these 2 CL games. It seems to me that what they're doing is having some hard training sessions (double sessions at times), and then have lighter sessions during the 4 or 5 days prior to the matches. This sounds good to me, but I'm afraid that we still should expect our players to be pretty tired during the second half of Inter v Basel.
This has a big influence on the starting 11: Mancini knows that he only has 3 substitutions, so he must choose the fittest players as starters. I think that was the reason why we saw Ze Maria in Basel, his fitness must have been very good, and Mancini thought it was best to get advantage of that.
About the formation, I think we should expect to see the same defence in front of Toldo, J Zanetti-Materazzi-Cordoba-Favalli. I would be very surprised to see anything different.
In midfield, Ze Maria and Stankovic should be confirmed on the right and left respectively, considering their good performances in the first leg. The 2 CM, this is where the first doubts arise. I think it will be Veron and Cambiasso again. But there's Davids, is he fit enough? Not to start, I'm positive of that. He could be come in as a sub. I don't think C. Zanetti is fit to start as well. One thing I've been thinking about is that maybe Emre could start in place of Veron, considering his disappointing debut. I think that's a possibility.
As for the strikers, Adriano is a sure starter, but who is going to play alongside him? My guess is Cruz, since Recoba didn't shine in Basel. I don't think Ventola will be considered, looking at his poor performances in all the friendly games. I'm not expecting to see Vieri either, since he's in the same situation as Davids, just not enough minutes played. He could come in as a sub if we were losing...
So, in a nutshell:
What we need to be careful with is our physical conditions: we must secure the game during the first half. Failing to do so will be putting us under a lot of pressure; both our players and the Basel's players are aware that the Swiss team is likely to have the upper hand in the second half. A 0-0 or 1-1 at half time would be a great boost in confidence for them, and it would be terrible for us psychologically.
A very positive aspect is our morale: look at these pictures from yesterday's training session:
These images speak for themselves. They're enjoying themselves in training. Look at Karagounis, he knows that he's not going to have many chances at Inter this season, but his smile is priceless. The players are happy and confident.
Let's face it, we're already having a big piece of the season at stake on Tuesday evening. I think they can do it, if they're focused, tidy, and deadly with their chances. Especially in the first half. Let's wait and see