There were seven Gialloblu players involved with their national teams on Wednesday night, but not one of them was able to turn around their club form and actually taste a victory.
First up was 23 year old midfielder Ledian Memushaj, signed from Prima Divisione side Paganese in the summer, who made his debut for Albania in their goalless draw with Morocco. Memushaj has only featured once for the Gialloblu this season, but big things are expected from him. Also in action was Marco Silvestri for the Italy under 20’s against their German counterparts. Italy lost the game 2-1 and worse for Silvestri was the fact that the Gialloblu’s third choice keeper (currently on loan from Modena) had to leave the action after only five minutes due to a knock to the nose.
For Gadji Tallo, the Gialloblu’s 18 year old Ivory Coast striker, the story of woe was just the same. The young hopeful who has come through the youth ranks at the Flying Donkey’s, played 45 minutes for his countries under 23 side as they went down 2-1 at home to Morocco. Tallo was replaced at half time after taking a knock late in the first half. In France, at the Stade Michel Hidalgo in Saint-Gratien just outside of Paris, the real success story of the Gialloblu’s season so far Kevin Constant was in action for his beloved Guinea as they went down 2-1 to Burkina Faso. France was chosen as the venue for the game as it’s the first choice language of both countries and would appeal to natives of both countries.
In Koper, Slovenia had two Gialloblu players representing them in their friendly with Georgia. Bostjan Cesar and Bojan Jokic couldn’t prevent them from going down to a 2-1 home defeat though. Finally transfer deadline day signing Gelson Fernandes played 45 minutes in Geneva as his Switzerland side were held to a 2-2 home draw in their friendly with Ukraine. He was replaced by Udinese midfielder Gokan Inler. This meant that just like the previous four league games, no Gialloblu players tasted victory.
With all players returning from International duty, the club has turned its attention to Sunday’s showdown with Scudetto, Coppa Italia and Champions League holders Inter at the Stadio Bentegodi. The Gialloblu are in the unique position of being able to really crank up the pressure on new Inter Coach Rafa Benitez. Following the weekends disappointing 1-0 defeat in the Milan derby rumours have surfaced from the San Siro that President Morratti has given Benitez two games (maybe one if Chievo inflict a heavy defeat) to save his job and possibly his reputation after the way he left Liverpool in June.
In order to do that however, the Gialloblu must overturn the poor run of form that has seen them fail to score in any of their previous four games, a run that has produced three goalless draws and a 1-0 defeat at Fiorentina and seen them drop from an impressive fifth place to their current position of eleventh.
The statistics for this fixture however don’t point to much chance of success for the Gialloblu. In the previous six encounters both home and away, the Flying Donkeys have managed just one draw and five defeats, nowhere near as good as their record against Inters rivals Milan. The Gialloblu managed just the solitary 2-2 draw with Inter at the Stadio Bentegodi back in May 2009. They seem to have a better record at the San Siro where they have twice lost by the odd goal in seven including in May this year where it looked for a long time as though they were going to end Inters title dreams after a 4-1 Inter lead was then reduced to 4-3 leaving the home side holding on.
In terms of personnel, the Flying Donkeys will still be without Brazilian midfielder Luciano who is missing with a long term knee injury. Andrea Mantovani will be expected to return to the back four where Nicolas Frey continues to be a doubt following the knock he picked up in last weekend’s goalless draw at Sampdoria. The main concern continues to be top scorer and Gialloblu’s leading all time scorer Sergio Pellissier who is still struggling to regain fitness following his knee injury in the goalless draw at Parma. He has been doing light training whilst his teammates were away on International duty and Coach Stefano Pioli will hope to give him a late fitness test on Sunday morning as the Gialloblu attempt to halt their alarming drop down the table towards a relegation battle.
A win over Inter will not only boost team morale but also reignite talk of a push for European qualification.