There is nothing interesting about 0-0 draws. Except, apparently, when they are between Inter and Napoli.
It may be a cliché, but the game at the San Paolo on Sunday night had everything except a goal, with plenty of chances and bookings to go around. Despite the result, the game was something of a result for Inter who finally avoided defeat away to the Azzurri.
Jose Mourinho was unusually generous to referee Roberto Rossetti after the game, but still found a way to claim that his side should have had a penalty. He also questioned whether Rossetti has something against the Nerazzurri after what the Special One claims were a number of unfavourable decisions against his sides over a period of a few matches. This kind of criticism is unlikely to go down well with the referees and especially with the FIGC, who take any kind of suggestion that their refs are corrupt very seriously since the Calciopoli scandal.
Despite the fact that Inter are not playing until next week, it seems like a prudent time to turn to the question of how la Beneamata are going to beat Chelsea. While being decent results for the side in terms of Serie A, the last two league matches, which have ended in draws, are a worry given the rate at which Inter have failed to score. Parma and Napoli are no Chelsea. The key characteristic of the Stamford Bridge side is that they are extremely physical, one of the most imposing teams in Europe. The midfield is big and strong, and Mourinho may have to consider going with strength over technique, with Sulley Muntari, Esteban Cambiasso and Thiago Motta giving grit, and winning enough of the ball for the likes of Wesley Sneijder to make the difference. The real key, as with any first-leg is for Inter to not concede. Going into the second leg at 0-0 would not be a disaster. Chelsea would have to attack in order to try and win the game, just as Inter would – but any goal Inter score would have the added bonus of being an away goal.
This is not to say that – heaven forbid Mourinho even thinks of it – Inter should play for a first-leg draw. One goal is always better than no goals, and so on, but a balance has to be kept between being sufficiently adventurous to make scoring opportunities but cautious enough to not let Didier Drogba and Nicolas Anelka terrorize the defence. These games are where Coaches such as Mourinho earn their money – and his tactical plan will have to be spot on.
Mourinho would be foolish not to attack whoever fills in at left-back for the injured Ashley Cole – probably Yuri Zhirkov. The Russian is a very talented player but has not had much playing time so far this season, and is naturally attack-minded having played wing-back and also on the wing for the Russian national team and CSKA Moscow. If he can be tempted to commit too far up the pitch, or is simply put under too much pressure then he might prove the weak link in the back four.
Before the Champions League, Inter have to welcome Sampdoria to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza this weekend, and they are a team playing very well at the moment. Whether Mourinho puts out a full-strength side or not is up to him, but his side currently hold a seven-point lead over Roma, and were they to drop more points and the Giallorossi win, there may even be a danger that a title race could break out.
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
It could be worse – December 8, 2009
Disaster averted – December 11, 2009
A missed opportunity? More for them than us – December 11, 2009
Resolutions – December 18, 2009
How do you solve a problem like Mourinho [does]? – December 22, 2009
Grazie Marco – December 29, 2009
Inter transfer rumours beaten black and blue – January 5, 2010
Mario Balotelli, hero and villain – January 8, 2010
Wesley Sneijder: the human get-out-of-jail-free card – January 12, 2010
A potentially beastly decision – January 15, 2010
Bari wasn’t great, Milan must be better – January 19, 2010
Derby della Madonnina and Jermaine Jenas? – January 22, 2010
Inter show why they are the champions of Milan – January 26, 2010
Snow game this weekend – February 2, 2010
Coppa win and Gerrard in? – February 5, 2010
The Goran Pandev show – February 9, 2010
Nine points clear – February 12, 2010
Mourinho and Chelsea – February 16, 2010