After beating Roma in the Italian Super Cup Inter looked as though they would hit the ground running against Atletico Madrid on Friday night and carry that momentum through to Monday’s opening fixture against Bologna. However the Nerazzurri have seemingly hit a brick wall with one defeat, one draw, no goals scored and two conceded. Coach Rafael Benitez now has some serious thinking to do.
Inter’s weekend started off in Monaco where they were beaten by two goals to nil against Atletico Madrid. Rafael Benitez was keen to add the European Super Cup to the already captured Italian Super Cup but this wasn’t to be as his side gave up the fight without even as much as a whimper.
The main problem came from the lack of chances that the Nerazzurri created with the negativity in the side becoming more apparent as the game continued. Last season Mourinho’s side did not often set the world on fire with his style of football but there was consistency in the approach. Last season Inter’s main attacking prowess came from two areas; One from the ever dependable and equally creative Wesley Sneijder and the second from the full backs and tireless work ethic of Douglas Maicon and Javier Zanetti.
These players supplying the front three allowed the holding players to do there job and depending on how the game was going, allow Dejan Stankovic to press forward and create chances for the forward players. Supply for the front trio was lacking on Friday and the fact that Zanetti was employed in the defensive midfield position did leave a lack of creativity on the left.
Christian Chivu who was at left back defended well but he did not maraud up and down the flank as his captain does so well. A bigger problem was on the right where last season Maicon had terrorised defenders but against Atletico he seemed to be holding back as if he had been told not to risk going forward. Needless to say a muted Maicon was no good for the Nerazzurri.
The game was lost and Inter must rue the lack of chances they created and the negative way they approached the game.
The start of the Serie A season saw them travel to the Stadio Dall’Ara to play Bologna. Would this be the time to redeem themselves from the slip up two days previous?
For the Nerazzurri there was to be only more frustration as Benitez’s men failed to take there chances and slumped to a surprise goalless draw with the hosts. The first half was again poor as Inter again failed to create very much in front of goal. Emiliano Viviano in Bologna’s goal was tested from distance on two occasions and nearly conceded as Lucio and Walter Samuel attacked a set piece.
Inter had Javier Zanetti at right back and in the second half especially he came into his own, however it was one sided and Chivu on the left failed to get forward in the same manner. Samuel Eto found himself coming deep too often to try and collect the ball and when he did he found too many Bologna shirts in front of him. Sneijder’s second half display was promising as he seemed to be on a personal crusade to drag his team over the finishing line but unfortunately all of his efforts were met by the very capable Viviano.
Another positive in the second half was the introduction of Coutinho for his second appearance. The Brazilian looks exciting although certainly not the finished article. As he improves he could be a man to watch this season.
The second half was much improved and if Inter had of started like this from the beginning it would have been hard to see how they would not have walked away with all three points. There is however much work to be done before the next home game against Udinese.
With Roma drawing against Cesena and Juventus falling at Bari this result against Bologna does not look that bad, however, add to the mix the fact that Milan thumped Lecce 4-0 and it will be hard for them to hide their disappointment.
Rafael Benitez can take some positives out of this weekend if he realises the potential of his full backs and their attacking prowess and is less negative in his approach. The second half at Bologna was much more like the Nerazzurri from last year and with Benitez promising attacking football then there has to be some changes to realise this.
This time last year Jose Mourinho was reeling after being beaten in the Italian Super Cup and being held at home to Bari on the opening day. What happened after this was the most successful season in Inter’s history. Don’t write Benitez off just yet.