Every so often, no matter how well a team is playing and no matter how good the goalkeeper is there comes a moment that makes everyone in the stadium grimmace and hide their eyes. A goalkeeping error is normally caused by a lack of concentration for a split second or a missjudgment of minor proportions, it is a moment that all custodians fear. On Friday night this nightmare was about to become a reality for Genoa’s Eduardo.
Inter travelled to the Stadio Luigi Ferraris with a familiar looking line up. The formation stayed the same as it has all season with Julio Cesar starting in goal behind a back four of Maicon, Lucio, Walter Samuel and Davide Santon. The midfield holding two consisted of Esteban Cambiasso and Javier Zanetti with Wesley Sneijder playing just ahead of them. The front three saw Samuel Eto’o taking a central role being flanked by Philippe Coutinho and Jonathan Ludovic Biabiany.
The game started lively as both teams looked to gain the upper hand. It was the home side Genoa who dictated the pace in the opening stages. Luca Toni was the first to threaten when he brought a diving save from Julio Cesar after unleashing a powerful shot. Moments later it was Giandomenico Mesto’s turn but his effort was dragged wide of the post and will have left the forward questioning himself.
Inter did start to come into the game and when Sulley Muntari came on for the injured Cambiasso, who quickly made an impact finding Samuel Eto’o in the box, however, the Cameroonian hit man managed to drag his shot wide, unbelievably. In a case of, anything you can do I can do better, Marco Rossi then missed his own sitter for the home side and the game seemed to be heading for the break at 0-0.
Muntari took advantage of this picking up the ball before releasing a fairly tame shot from 25 yards out, the ball seemed to be heading straight into the arms of the Genoese goalkeeper and even with the bounce before hand it should have been a comfortable take. Instead an error of judgement saw the ball bounce off Eduardo’s shoulder and into the net, a catastrophic error from a normally dependable keeper. The mistake seemed to suck the life out of Genoa as the home side went out with a whimper in the second half. Luca Castellazzi replaced an injured Julio Cesar. The home side could not even take advantage of Inter’s enforced substitution and it finished 0-1. Inter can think themselves lucky as this game could have easily gone a different way.
Genoa’s President Preziosi was less than impressed with what he had witnessed and ranted that “I am disgusted. The spectacle of the last 15 minutes was incredible. Seeing a team that aims to win the Scudetto behave like a provincial club is disgusting. They shouldn’t have to resort to such tactics. I am very upset, as Inter’s behaviour was disgusting and had nothing to do with football. Seeing even a champion like Samuel Eto’o put on such a show when he wasn’t even touched was unsporting behaviour.” The way in which Inter played out the end of the match and stopped Genoa playing football was defiantly not to the Presidents liking.
Rafael Benitez on the other hand was happy to dismiss the criticism saying “We played a normal game and played football. I don’t think anyone can say anything against us.” Before moving on to comment on his version on the match “Against a very attacking side we maintained possession and in the second half had chances to do better, but it is also important to know how to control this type of match. At times one has to give credit to the other side. We should’ve done better on a few counter-attacks, while in some occasions with more space they could’ve hurt us even more.” The Inter Coach certainly acknowledged Genoa’s potential in the game but also realised that his team once again have three points from a less than convincing display which is the sign of potential Champions.
The main problem to come out of this weekend’s game is the mounting number of injuries to the squad. Cambiasso and Julio Cesar now have thigh strains and will miss the Champions League game against Tottenham this week. They join Thiago Motta, David Suazo, MacDonald Mariga and Dejan Stankovic on the injury list.
Rafael Benitez is aware that even with these injuries his team is more than capable of winning in mid-week and in current form, who would back against them? They may be grinding out results one week and then fantastic the next and even when they can not score lady luck has also started to help out. It is when these things start to come together that you have start to believe that this is a special group who will not be far from the finishing line come May.