Inter kick off the 2004/2005 season on Saturday 11 September, 6pm CET, in Verona against Chievo.
The 2 teams have changed quite a bit since last season; Chievo have lost coach Gigi Del Neri, and Perrotta, one of the key players for them. Inter has changed a lot, especially in midfield.
Inter started the last 2 Serie A campaigns at the S. Siro, struggling both times: we beat Torino 1-0 in 2002/03 thank to a Vieri header, and Modena 2-0 in 2003/04, thanks to a gol from Vieri and a Materazzi free kick, but the goals came very late in the second half.
HISTORY Last year we won 2-0 in Verona, Vieri and Recoba the scorers. It was the 2nd game with Zaccheroni in charge, after the 0-0 with Roma in Milan. That was the start of a great period, during which Inter achieved 6 consecutive wins. It was a totally different story at the S. Siro: the game ended 0-0, during a period of total crisis: before meeting Chievo, Inter had previously lost 3 consecutive games at the S. Siro, against Udinese, Milan and Brescia, and 4-1 against Roma at the Olimpico.
In total Inter and Chievo have met 6 times in Serie A, with a very even outcome: 2 wins, 2 draws, 2 losses.
Inter away record during 2003/04: 8 wins, 4 draws, 5 losses.
Chievo home record during 2003/04: 5 wins, 6 draws, 6 losses.
Chievo is one of Vieri's favourite targets, he scored many goals against them.
Inter should look at this game with confidence. They achieved a great result at the S. Siro against Basel. Apart from Cannavaro, the transfers market has been perfect. Inter has a lot of choice in midfield now, lots of options, but they still managed to reduced the total amount of the wages by 40 million euros.
Stankovic and Adriano are the player to watch. They've been unstoppable in the pre-season, and they look like Inter's leaders, together with Capitano, of course.
PROBABLE STARTING 11:
There are some doubts though: Pasquale has been playing a lot in the latest friendly games. Still, Favalli started for Italy in yesterday's World Cup qualifier, so I expect him to start as LB.
Then there's Vieri: he's getting back to 100% form, but still I don't expect him to start, Mancini should play safe and let Recoba start. We must keep in mind that Inter will play at the S. Siro against W. Bremen on 14 September.
We should win comfortably. We really need a good start, and we just need to do the same as we did against Basel in Milan: go for it straight away, attack them and get an early goal, possibly within the first 20 minutes. Then we should be able to control the game and seal the victory.
My Man of the Match:: I think it's going to be Dejan Stankovic. He's on fire, and with Adriano just back from Brasil, Stanko should be the star of the game.
We must watch out for...: silly mistakes in defence. We surely did some of them in the friendly games, and against Basel as well. Thank God Toldone was in great form.
Players I would like to see coming in as sub: Emre. I hope he can come on in place of Veron. I hope Kily will come in as well, since he's reported to be in good form after a very positive Olympic tournament.