Like all Inter fans, we at Football Italiano have a hard time comprehending exactly just how la Beneamata manage to do what they do. Unfortunately, it is not because we sit there in awe at their prowess on the pitch – although they do have their moments of brilliance – it is that one team can be so inconsistent and waver between 4-0 thrashings of Milan and 3-1 losses to the likes of Catania.
The latest result, 1-1 away to Palermo, is, admittedly, not in the same category on the last result gained in Sicily, but is still less-than-ideal for a team that is caught in a title race. Fortunately, Milan did their cross-town rivals a favour by putting in a performance that left all watching wondering how they have managed to get themselves into the position where they might actually win lo Scudetto. Harsh as it seems to criticise the team after a week where they put in possibly the best performance of Jose Mourinho’s tenure as coach, but this inconsistency is infuriating for the fans, and must be at least as confusing for the players and management as well.
Although the result did not cause Inter to lose their top spot in Serie A, it did allow Roma to move two points closer to the champions, and they are now only 4 point behind. This would not usually be a cause for alarm, but this coming weekend it just so happens that the Nerazzurri travel to the capital to take on Roma. In fact, with two more rounds of matches to take place in the next six days, the destination of the title will be much more obvious come Sunday night. Inter take on Livorno and Roma, Milan face Parma and Lazio and Roma have to travel to Bologna before hosting the Nerazzurri this weekend. None of these games (with the exception of Inter-Roma) seem too challenging, but with the way that the top three have dropped points in unlikely places this season, it would not be surprising if one of them seriously dents their title hopes.
As far as Inter are concerned, facing Livorno at the Giuseppe Meazza is a game they simply have to win. With the Tuscan side bottom of the table, anything less than victory would be seriously demoralising, as well as a huge boost for their rivals – and Cristiano Lucarelli has recently spoiled a Roman party in Livorno, and you can bet that he would love to ruin the fun in Milan as well.
In Anglo-Inter news, the obsequious media coverage of Jose Mourinho is getting more than a little old. The ‘Special One’ is going to need a special room just for his ego built on to his house should the praise continue, and president Massimo Moratti should be a bit worried, because it appears that the English press have just realised what they lost when Mourinho took off to Milan. There have already been rumours linking the Portuguese coach with a move to Liverpool and if Moratti wants to keep the coach that he apparently now loves unconditionally then he may have to work for it.
One definite positive to come out of this last week was the Champions League draw. Not because CSKA Moscow are not a capable team – because they proved against Sevilla that they will provide a stiff challenge – but because of who they managed to avoid. A draw against Barcelona or Manchester United would have been a disaster, as both teams have beaten the Nerazzurri without a great deal of trouble in the recent past. Although a trip to Moscow is not desirable, a trip to the Camp Nou or Old Trafford would be feared.
The season is really coming to a head now, and even if you are an Inter fan, there is reason to be excited as well as worried. Battling for lo Scudetto, a Champions League quarter-final and a potential Coppa Italia final will make this a run-in to remember.