Inter sparkled under the lights of the Giuseppe Meazza to crush Werder Bremen 4-0 in a performance containing both beautiful football and brute strength. It was the perfect response to Saturday’s disappointing defeat to Roma and Samuel Eto’o was the star of the show, scoring a superb hat-trick. The ever-impressive Wesley Sneijder also found the net in a display typifying the essence of the Nerazzurri.
The European Champions were without Diego Milito, Thiago Motta, Javier Zanetti, Marco Materazzi and Goran Pandev, resulting in a youthful line-up. Inter therefore started with the ever-dependable Julio Cesar in goal, with Douglas Maicon, Lucio, Ivan Cordoba and Christian Chivu making up the back four. Esteban Cambiasso and Dejan Stankovic were the holding midfield players behind the attacking trio of Wesley Sneijder, Philippe Coutinho and Jonathan Ludovic Biabiany, while Eto’o led the line up front.
It was the Germans who started better and Hugo Almeida almost lobbed Cesar as he rushed out of his goal. Moments later, Almeida had another chance from a free-kick but the Brazilian shot-stopper was equal to the task, producing a superb save.
However, first blood went to the Nerazzurri and when Cambiasso released Eto’o, the Cameroonian drifted goalside of Per Mertesacker before cleverly slotting the ball under the legs of Tim Wiese. Six minutes later it was two-nil as Maicon’s well-weighted pass found Eto’o, whose icy composure allowed him to fire past Wiese at his near post.
Inter were electric for the remainder of the first half and continually dominated in both possession and potency. The third goal was not long in coming and on 34 minutes Eto’o sent Sneijder clear and the Dutch international chipped the ball over Wiese with superb precision.
The second half saw Luca Castellazzi replace the injured Julio Cesar and he was immediately called into action, saving from Wesley as Werder Bremen desperately tried to claw their way back into the game.
At the other end, Coutinho, who was having a magnificent game, came close but was denied by Wiese, and as Inter stepped up the pace again, a fourth goal seemed inevitable. However, before then the hosts suffered another injury scare as Lucio limped off with a knee strain. Nevertheless, the evening ended on a high note and the Nerazzurri faithful were once again in raptures on 81 minutes when Sneijder and Eto’o combined once more and the latter completed his treble with a tap-in after rounding Wiese.
The scoreline didn’t flatter Inter and overall it was a fantastic performance, with Eto’o and Sneijder particularly outstanding. Perhaps most encouragingly, Coutinho was a revelation on the night and the 18-year-old Brazilian looks like a huge prospect.
The injuries were the main concern after the match although Rafael Benitez wasn’t overly worried and hinted both Cesar and Lucio stand a chance of being fit for this weekend’s game against Juventus:
“It is difficult to play three games per week. Lucio’s injury doesn’t look too serious, but we need to wait and see. Julio Cesar came off as a precautionary measure as he had a slight muscular pain in his left thigh,” said Benitez.
Inter’s Head Coach was upbeat about his team’s overall performance but believes there is still room for improvement:
“I don’t think this was our best performance of the season at all. We can play better. For example, against Bari, in the second half with Bologna and at the start with Udinese we had more intensity than this evening,” he continued.
“It is always better to win while playing well, but we hope to also find success when our performance is less sparkling.”
Hat-trick hero Eto’o has made no secret of wanting to play in a more central role this year after often being deployed on the right for Barcelona, and demonstrated on Wednesday he certainly will not disappoint in this position:
“I’m happy to win as a striker after winning as a defender last season,” Eto’o cheekily quipped.
“This is a victory for the whole team, though. The side played very well, even if we had important players missing, and the youngsters really impressed.”
Eto’o has certainly raised an interesting issue and it will be intriguing to see how Inter line up against Juventus this weekend. Benitez will consider it a nice problem to have, subject to the availability of his injured stars.
Inter truly bounced back from their defeat to Roma at the weekend, and should the Nerazzuri follow it up with a win in the Derby d’ Italia, this will certainly round off their week in style and keep the critics at bay. Perhaps Cambiasso summed it up in his post-match interview:
“We cannot always listen to the pundits. According to all these people, we are phenomenal tonight and were disasters three days ago. In three days time, it’ll be something else again.” Wise words, Esteban.