This weekend sees la Beneamata involved in one of the biggest games of the Serie A season, the Derby d’Italia against Juventus. This match is important for both teams as, with Inter currently eight points ahead of la Vecchia Signora, a win could put them totally out of reach. Juventus need the win not only to keep their tenuous grasp on the ‘title contenders’ tag, but also to turn around their current horrible form, which has seen them slip to third place, well within reach of the teams just below them.
Inter have been dealt a blow ahead of the game with the news that Wesley Sneijder will not be fit to play. The Dutchman has become an important and dynamic member of Coach José Mourinho’s squad since his arrival in Milan, and his creativity in midfield will surely be missed. However, there is more than enough talent to be able to cover for his absence, especially against a midfield that, even including the brilliant Diego, has all been struggling recently.
The recent reversal in fortunes of the two sides is something the Torinese have found hard to swallow. The Calciopoli scandal decimated Juve and handed Inter two Scudetti and the position as undisputed best team in Italy, along with Patrick Vieira and Zlatan Ibrahimović. Juve’s rise back to the top of the Italian game has been swift, but they are finding that life on a level playing field is much more difficult. Add that to the fact that since the departure of Fabio Capello they have struggled to find a manager of comparable stature, with Didier Deschamps, Claudio Ranieri and now Ciro Ferrara struggling to bring success to the side and it is not surprising that the Nerazzurri have continued to reign supreme.
Inter throughout the same period have found themselves in a period of stability, which is truly remarkable when you consider that before Roberto Mancini the club had 15 managers in the previous 10 years. Whilst the Bianconeri might complain about how much of Inter’s success has been handed to them, once the Nerazzurri got ahead they showed that they were very capable front-runners. After coming so close to winning lo Scudetto, the ‘other team’ from Milan took the advantage they had been given and made it count. Fans of the club can be forgiven for revelling in their current domination of the Italian game – after all, who can forget the heartbreaking loss to Lazio on the last day of the 2001/02 season and the tears of Ronaldo. Yes, it has been a long time coming, but Inter are now the team to beat and Juventus, Roma and – the team for whom it must be the most bitter of pills to swallow – Milan, must accept this.
Another part of the recent success has been the transfer policy. Just like their managerial situation, their transfers throughout the 1990s and early 2000s had been very questionable. For every excellent signing like Ronaldo or Christian Vieri there were a whole host of puzzling ones, like Sérgio Conceição, Vratislav Gresko, Andrés Guglielminpietro and Javier Farinós to name but a few. These days, they tend to make better decisions in the transfer market, and the reports this week suggesting that they will try to sign Sergio Agüero confirm this. Not only that, but Inter are rumoured to be considering offering Ricardo Quaresma as part of the deal. This shows how far they have come – it used to be other clubs that would tempt the Nerazzurri with money and an average or patchy player for one of their stars.
Following Mourinho’s words about feeling underappreciated in Italy and the possibility of being sacked by Massimo Moratti, the Coach has found a champion to take up his cause. Marco Materazzi – who is, of course, every football fan’s favourite defender whose name ends in ‘aterazzi’ – has leapt to the defence of his Coach and said that José is, after all, the ‘Special One.’ “He is a Coach, a father figure, a man who jokes, smiles and knows how to forge a wonderful relationship,” gushed Matrix, “Mourinho is special, and if that is coming from one who never plays, you must believe it.” Materazzi also commented on his lack of appearances for the team this season, “I know exactly what my role is. I will hold onto Inter very tight, they made me famous and helped me win so much. It’s a family here and even a single minute on the pitch is worthwhile.” It is just as well that Marco feels that way, because minutes on the pitch are likely to be all this gets this season.
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
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
It was embarrassing – November 27, 2009
José gets ruffled – December 1, 2009
Derby d’Italia – December 4, 2009