Rafael Benitez’s first home game as Inter coach ended in victory as Inter beat Udinese by two goals to one, the match was hard fought but the Nerazzurri showed steely resolve and managed to grab all three points.
Inter welcomed Udinese to the Giuseppe Meazza confident that they could gain all three points unlike in their previous poor display at Bologna. The match did not start well for the away side as they were dealt an early blow when goalkeeper Handanovic flapped at a corner allowing Lucio to control and then rifle the ball into the Udinese net.
The Bianconeri were not going to roll over and started to create chances of their own eventually being rewarded when Antonio Floro Flores scored from a header from six yards after being left unmarked in the box. Inter rallied quickly and showed the determination that their status as champions deserves, they were soon awarded a penalty, Samuel Eto stepped up only to see his effort saved, his quick instincts however, saw him connect with the rebound and take all three points.
This result has given Inter a much needed boost before their trip to Holland to play FC Twente on Tuesday. Dejan Stankovic believes that with a small transition period Inter will be back as strong as ever and should be able to challenge for another historic treble, saying, “Benitez is hungry for success and we have to accept his way of working. We are on the right track but just like Mourinho in Madrid, he needs time, we’re a great team and we have to be aiming for another treble. It is important to win when you’re not playing well which is what happened against Udinese.”
Encouraging sounds coming out of the Nerazzurri camp it seems, not only with the recognition that they are not playing well but also in the determination to improve. The Benitez era is now fully under way, the players have had time to morn Mourinho and now they seem fully focused on the job in hand.
Rafael Benitez it seems is insistent on improving his squad in the January and will look to Marco Branca to help him find some better strength in depth. One signing that is almost certain to arrive is Parma’s left back Luca Antonelli who has been linked heavily for the last few months, this will give Inter cover should they lose Javier Zanetti to injury, while it will also allow Christian Chivu to cover the center back role. Other names linked are Diego Forlan from Atletico Madrid and Udinese holding midfielder Gokhan Inler who have both been linked recently as essential forms of back up for the Nerazzurri. Even though Benitez may want to add to his team he may not be able to as he would like, there has been much in the press this week about the cost of Inter’s success and whether Benitez will be able to replicate Mourinho’s success with a shoe string budget. The way Moratti has poured money into the club combined with the inability of Serie A to compete with the Premier league and La Liga has had a detrimental affect on Inter’s end of year books.
Tuesday night sees the return of the Champions League as Inter start the defence of their crown away at FC Twente. One huge boost for Inter is the expected return of Douglas Maicon at right back, the Brazilian has been missed by the team and his attacking runs from full back will be welcomed back with open arms. Dejan Stankovic is set to miss the clash along with Thiago Motta, this will see Javier Zanetti move into the midfield with Christian Chivu playing at left back. The rest of the team will remain unchanged and all being well should prove too strong for Michel Preud’homme’s men.
Inter seem to be slowly coming up to speed and their gritty performance against Udinese seemed to dispel some fears about the season and its possibilities. Like a great freight train Inter are now moving forward and a win away in Holland on Tuesday night will only go to prove that this team have not forgotten how to win and still have both the desire and the ability to do so. They are away at Palermo next week and will want to go into this game knowing that normal service has been resumed on the domestic and European fronts.