Rubin Kazan 1-1 Inter. If the Nerazzurri were criticised for their attitude in the draw with Barcelona then this performance will have done nothing to convince their fans that the Champions League trophy will be decorating the blue and black half of the Giuseppe Meazza museum this season.
The performance from Inter on Tuesday was not the performance of a team who are desperate to win Europe’s top club competition. They really struggled to impose themselves on a side that, with all due respect, should have been beaten with comparative ease. Amantino Mancini got a chance to start and failed to take it, being replaced by Ricardo Quaresma – who also put in another poor performance. What has happened to the Mancini that shone in both Serie A and Europe for Roma is anyone’s guess, and it is probably a fair assumption that he and Quaresma will be moved on at the end of the season. Jose Mourinho tried to put a positive spin on the result, saying: “Considering how the game went, it’s a positive point. We’ve drawn a game which, under the circumstances, we could have lost.” But with two tough away games against Barcelona and Dynamo Kiev yet to play, Inter may struggle to get the points they need to qualify if their performances don’t pick up soon.
Strangely, on Tuesday morning, Arrigo Sacchi was asked about Inter’s chances in the Champions League and the former Milan boss said that he considered the side to be lacking the enthusiasm and technique to succeed. He also commented that la Beneamata suffer due to the fear that they show in Europe – comments that seem very appropriate when considered in the light of their latest match. In recent years Sacchi has been known to make predictions and comments that seem somewhat incongruous with what actually happens, but this time the coach was very accurate. Inter need to find the desire to carry them through the tough away games – not every match can be against teams like Barcelona – and getting out of the group stage requires the ability to win games against the smaller teams. It is strange though, because in recent years what Inter have excelled at in Serie A is putting away the small sides with comparative ease, just like Mourinho’s Chelsea did when they dominated the English Premier League, but they cannot transfer this into Europe. Maybe there is a psychological barrier that the team needs to break before they can succeed?
Part of the reason that Inter struggled was the second half dismissal of Mario Balotelli. The striker was sent off for two yellow card offences – the second out of frustration – which really hampered Inter’s chances of grabbing a late win. Balotelli’s young career has been tumultuous, and this was another incident that will not serve to enhance his reputation. His teammates were less than impressed with his behaviour and Douglas Maicon was one of the more vocal critics, saying: “I don’t know what happened. Mario has to understand that he cannot get things wrong like he did today. He still has lots to learn, but what happened today will serve in helping him grow.” Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti also mentioned the incident in their post-match statements, so Balotelli now has some making up to do. This week’s quote of the week though comes from President Massimo Moratti commenting on the Balotelli sending off: “After a hard start we were able to take hold of the game, then there was an accident with Balotelli,” he said, “In the past, even experienced players like Marco Materazzi have been sent off.” When Football Italiano read this quote, we actually laughed out loud! Presumably il presidente knows a different Marco Materazzi to the card-happy version that currently plays for his side!
Christian Vieri was in the news this week, reminiscing about his time spent at Inter with Ronaldo, explaining their training and recreation regimen: “we went clubbing” said Vieri, “then, I used to sleep for a couple of hours and went on to the pitch to train, while he laid down on the cot and ate brioches and cappuccino.” This was not the whole of the, obviously intensive, session though, as the Bologna-born striker elaborated: “The big problem was that the following day at midnight, he used to show up at my house and honked until I came down so we’d go out again.” The lives of professional footballers, it must be hell!
Inter resume Serie A action against Udinese at the Giuseppe Meazza this weekend, and will be expecting to pick up a comfortable win to steady any nerves that may have arisen after the recent slip in form.
Inter Club Focus 2009/10
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