Inter fans will wake up this morning with somewhat mixed emotions after seeing their side beat Cagliari, because although the team got a win, it was the sort of performance that fans hope will not characterise their away games this season.
Douglas Maicon had a poor game – which is rare for the Brazilian defender – and this was capped by giving away a foolish penalty that saw the champions go in a goal down at half time. More worryingly, it was the Sardinian side that was dominating the game, making their illustrious opponents work very hard. But, in a moment of madness, Daniele Conti gifted the ball to Diego Milito and the Argentinean striker showed why he is one of the best in the world right now with a good finish. Inter added a second goal only minutes later – once again through Milito – and everyone watching would have expected la Beneamata to close out the game comfortably. But this was not the case. Cagliari recovered to dominate much of the last 30 minutes and missed a number of good opportunities to score before Inter eventually emerged with what can only be described as a somewhat fortuitous victory.
It was this that presented the quandary to Inter fans, the team won, but played poorly. As any football fan will tell you, it is a sign of the very best sides that they can win when they are having an off-day, but that usually means a fairly uneventful game where one side snatches a barely deserved winner. Yesterday, on the other hand, was a reminder to the Nerazzurri that every team in Serie A has the potential to take points, and as such must be treated seriously and with respect. Perhaps the man who should come out of the game with most embarrassment is coach José Mourinho, as he was sent from the touchline during the second half and, after the match, failed to turn up for the press conference, sending Marco Branca to make excuses for him: “His responsibilities have nothing to do with how much he earns” insisted Inter’s technical director, “The Coach made a physical protest and didn’t actually say anything to the referee. He doesn’t need to justify himself to anyone and is a little upset for being sent to the stands.” The Italian then went on to comment on the match, putting a positive spin on the performance: “Today we weren’t as brilliant as against Milan, but you can’t always be identical because the opposition is always different. This afternoon we took another vital three points on our Scudetto defence.”
Cagliari Coach Massismiliano Allegri was obviously upset with a loss and made his feeling known: “It’s too bad because we played a good game where we also had the chances to finish. Unfortunately we had two distractions, there were many errors in the match, and we paid a heavy price.” Diego Milito, on the other hand, was in a jubilant mood after his brace secured the victory: “Stankovic thinks I’m an assassin in the 18-yard box!” joked the striker, “It makes me extremely happy to know how much my teammates appreciated me, but I have to thank him for the wonderful help he gave me on the second goal. I also want to thank Samuel Eto’o for stealing the ball from the opposition and putting me through on goal.”
Morale in the Nerazzurri squad seems high, and Esteban Cambiasso commented, “This result shows our strength and character. We won three points as a result.” This is perhaps the main positive point from this weekend’s performance, that la Beneamata showed the will and the resilience to get back into a game in which they were being outplayed, and then hang on to get all the points. A lesser side would have crumbled under the pressure that Cagliari exerted – just ask Milan fans how difficult it can be to beat the smaller sides.
Mourinho watch this week sees the Portuguese Tactician come under fire from former Inter Boss Alberto Zaccheroni who was not happy that, after his comments about Inter’s performance against Barcelona, the current Nerazzurri boss singled him out for criticism: “I only gave my opinion on Inter-Barcelona because that’s what I was asked, certainly not on Inter-Arsenal. I have never criticised the work of my colleagues. But from now on there won’t be any problems, I will always say that Inter always play great, so I won’t risk having my career criticised because of one match.” He then went on to make an amusing, if somewhat outlandish, implication that Mourinho has an affinity with former fascist dictator Benito Mussolini, continuing: “Considering how he is behaving, Mourinho would have been comfortable in the Italy of 80 years ago when the plebiscite was considered normal. I don’t understand why the reaction to a simple opinion has to be so neurotic and out of place.” Irrespective of what has happened on the pitch this week, the award for best sound-bite certainly goes to Zaccheroni.
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