Inter have taken the first step to making this a season to remember. They have qualified for the Champions League and earned it well with a 4-1 win over Basel. Without a doubt, Inter was fantastic today and played not for a tie but attacked from the start to win the match and own the pitch. With two goals by Adriano and one each by Stankovic and Recoba the match was pure joy.
For fans who are used to the past 10 years of a hard working team but little tactics and play tonight was a total shock to the system. Mancini has transformed this squad and showed the potential of things to come. Clear idea's, players in position, one touch football, overlapping runs, movement on and off the ball were all on display tonight making the fans stand in ovation for the squad.
In the past month, Mancini has made this group of "Stars" into a team and has allowed them to display there talent by playing attractive football and pleasing the fans. Basel is not the best team in the world but the signs tonight point in the right direction. Only complaint maybe some defensive errors but Mancini now has weeks to work out the bugs and gain the service of Cannavaro and Burdisso back in the squad. Luckily Toldo came up large when needed to make the key saves.
Mancini makes one change to the squad in regards to the first leg. Davids starts along side Veron with Cambiasso on the bench. With a few weeks of work under there belt, Inter start with a fury and with only 20 seconds gone Recoba is the first to force the keeper into a big save. It was a sign of things to come as Adriano makes it 1-0 at the 2 minute mark as Stankovic feeds him a superb ball on the run into the box. Adriano controls and puts a perfect diagonal shot into the low far corner. At the 13th minute the great start is confirmed as Stankovic scores his goal as he plays a one-two with Adriano at the edge of the box. With the return ball shoots a one timer past the keeper to make it 2-0.
The first 30 minutes of the match was a pure display of attractive and attacking football highlighted by Stankovic's great contribution in offence by running at defenders and liberating the strikers while Davids held his own in the center of the park chasing, fighting and winning balls when needed. Inter had some good wing play with Ze Maria and Zanetti attacking from the right and as mentioned Stankovic and Favalli coming from the left. Many crossovers and overlapping runs put the Basel back line under pressure.
Another great point was Inter's defence when in possesion. Although they looked a little troubled when defending, they did a great job when it came to starting the play. Gone was the long ball from defence to striker, instead Materazzi and Cordoba did well when in possesion to come out with ball on foot and find the open man in midfield.
Veron should be highlighted in this respect. With Davids at his side, Veron had more freedom to attack and not worry about the defence. When possesion was gained, Veron did very well to back track and be the outlet pass for the defenders. Veron showed some great touches and class today providing quite a few inch perfect passes and long balls over the 90 minutes.
The icing on the cake though for all inter fans and this team has to be Adriano and Stankovic. They were amazing today, working well and playing off eachother to perfection with every valid attack coming from there feet. Within the first half, both players could have scored 3 goals by halftime.
The second half begins with Basel coming back into the game slightly and scoring to make it 2-1 on a goal by Sterjoski. The Inter defence let a cross slip through and no one got a handle on the ball or the Basel player at the top of the box. Sterjoski does well to beat his marker and put a low shot into the corner past Toldo.
Inter however react well and do not sit on the lead as was common practice in the past. This Inter side responded not by defending but attacking just like they at the start of the match. Inter moved the ball around well, got many touches on the ball. When Adriano gains possesion he runs into the area and scores a wonderful goal from the edge of the box that finds the far corner once again with low hard shot. 3-1 for Inter and qualification almost secure.
Recoba then puts any doubt to rest as Veron feeds Recoba in a central position and he shoots a perfect hard drive from outside the box past the keeper who did not even move to make the save. It was 4-1 and all of San Siro were enjoying the display. Mancini then makes way to the substitutions taking off Recoba for Cruz, ZeMaria for Cambiasso and then marked the return of Vieri as he came in for Adriano who got the standing ovation from the fans!
Champions League here we come!!! Great job!! Here is to a great few weeks of allowing Mancini some peace and quiet. He can now take the team to the next level and prepare with the knowledge that Champions League football is secure.
>>> A quick note in regards to my match reports. I will be unable to write any reports for the first few weeks of the season. I will be on vacation from Sept. 8 to Sept 30.
I will resume in October and hopefully share a wonderul season full of victories with all you great people on this forum.