Before Football Italiano gets its teeth stuck into tonight’s Barcelona vs. Inter spectacular, there is the little matter of three more Serie A points for the Nerazzurri to consider.
Inter played Bologna on Saturday night to give them an extra bit of rest before the Champions League fixtures this week. The players could have been forgiven for having one eye on the next game but instead Inter showed why they are the reigning league champions with a comfortable win over the Rossoblu. Diego Milito put la Beneamata ahead after 22 minutes, but just one minute later Marcelo Zalayeta equalised for Bologna. This could have sparked panic in the Inter ranks, but the team kept calm, continued to play good football and went a goal up just before the break through Mario Balotelli. Esteban Cambiasso scored a rare goal in the second half to make it 3-1 and that was how it ended. However, it would not be the Nerazzurri if there were no incidents to talk about, and Douglas Maicon’s red card for dissent – in the last minute – was an astonishingly idiotic move from the Brazilian full-back. Getting sent off for dissent is a stupid thing to do anyway, let alone when your team are comfortably in front right at the end of the game.
With respect to Bologna, this was the sort of performance the fans expect from Inter. Beating a smaller team with ease so that the players and staff can focus on the important task to come. It also kept the pressure on Juventus, who managed to beat Udinese 1-0 on Sunday. But the manner of this victory was encouraging, they played good football and never had to exert themselves more than they wanted to – another positive with respect to the Barcelona game. José Mourinho was pleased with the performance, saying: “we won, we won well without problems, and we deserved to win.”
Now, the attention must shift to this evening’s match. What makes the tie so captivating is that both teams are in trouble. Barcelona, the European champions, widely regarded as the most attractive footballing side in the world, and Inter, the current Italian champions with a squad full of big names and managed by José Mourinho, were never supposed to be struggling in this group. As a result, one of the biggest teams in Europe may find themselves on the edge of elimination from the group stage by Wednesday morning.
One huge bonus for Inter is the reports claiming that Lionel Messi will not be lining up for the Blaugrana because of an injury he acquired against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday. Barça have a lot of other stars, but to lose the man who is probably the best player in the world is a massive blow. Add this to the fact that Zlatan Ibrahimović is not 100 percent fit and Inter really have an opportunity to go and attack Barca at home that most teams never get. If the Nerazzurri get beaten, then it needs to be because they tried to win. Playing for the draw early in the group stage was acceptable, but with the group so open they do not want to have to beat Rubin Kazan in the last round of games to be sure of going through. Either way it is in Inter’s hands. A win would guarantee qualification, but even a loss would not put them out. Now is the time to see what Mourinho’s team are really made of.
The strangest story involving the Nerazzurri this week is the rumours of a potential swap deal with Arsenal involving Mario Balotelli and Francesc Fàbregas. The Gunners have been linked with the temperamental Inter youngster over the last month, but the idea of them trading their captain and key player for ‘Super Mario’ is, frankly, absurd. It would be like the end of those television game shows where the winner is offered the chance to gamble the money they have won for the possibility of getting something better. Except they would be getting Balotelli.
Another Scudetto for the Nerazzurri? – August 18, 2009
A stuttering start, and a Portuguese explosion – August 25, 2009
It’s derby time – August 28, 2009
A wonderful derby but the champions of Europe are waiting – September 1, 2009
All is well for la Beneamata – September 4, 2009
International week (Georgia-Italy, Italy-Bulgaria)
Friendlies, injuries and stolen boots… – September 7, 2009
Nerazzurri look to the future as Ibra looks back – September 11, 2009
Inter get a point, but that’s not the point – September 18, 2009
They never had a problem with ugly wins – September 22, 2009
Partenopei are beaten Black and Blue – September 25, 2009
Blucerchiati run rings round Inter – September 29, 2009
Champions League? You’re having a laugh – October 2, 2009
I’d rather be lucky than good – October 6, 2009
The international break – October 6, 2009
International Week (Republic of Ireland-Italy, Italy-Cyprus)
Transfer Talk – October 13, 2009
Back to Genova – October 16, 2009
The Puzzle continues – October 20, 2009
What next? – October 23, 2009
Papering over the cracks – October 27, 2009
The pressure is on as Inter almost throw it away against Palermo – October 30, 2009
Judgement day awaits – November 3, 2009
Just in time – November 6, 2009
A draw with Roma, but things look good – November 10, 2009
Back to the day job – November 20, 2009
A Messi situation – November 24, 2009