The second part of the Anglo-Italian rivalry will kick off later today as Inter take on Chelsea in a game which is likely to have more drama off the field than on it.
Ever since the draw for the Round of 16 was announced tonight’s game between Inter and Chelsea was the one which seemed to attract the most attention. After all this would be the reunion of Jose Mourinho with his former club and also mark Carlo Ancelotti’s return to the San Siro. Mourinho may have problems coping up with the Italian media so we are here to ease things up for him a bit.
Attack through the right flank
Ancelotti’s Blues squad has been decimated on the left through a spate of injuries. Ashley Cole and his regular deputy Yuri Zhirkov will both miss the game leaving the veteran Brazilian Juliano Belletti to fill in the gap as left-back. Belletti is a natural right footer and has never played in this position before so one can expect him to be slightly nervous. At 33 he isn’t quite as fast as he used to be and Inter have to exploit this chink in Chelsea’s armor. It may be a good idea to start with a 4-2-1-3 and keep Belletti constantly occupied and under pressure. And it may even be an idea to let Ricardo Quaresma have a go at him in the second half if things aren’t going too well for Inter.
Javier Zanetti at Left-Back
Inter have problems of their own at left-back as Davide Santon has been declared unfit to take part in tonight’s game. This leaves Inter with the option of either playing Zanetti or Ivan Cordoba in the left back position. Cordoba has been most disastrous in his recent appearances for the Nerazzurri and he was given a torrid time by Bari’s Edgar Alvarez when he deputized in this position earlier. Against a player of Nicolas Anelka’s calibre it would be most folly for Mourinho to go with Cordoba who is also known for his petulance. Zanetti may not offer much going ahead from the left defensive solidarity is a must for the Italians.
Don’t Commit Unnecessary Fouls
Inter have always had the habit of committing needless fouls in their own area while defending and they will have to be terribly wary of this against the Blues. Didier Drogba, Frank Lampard and Michael Ballack are freekick experts and Drogba in particular is an excellent long range shooter. Inter mustn’t allow Chelsea a sniff of the goal in this tie and being disciplined while defending will be critical. The referee for this game is Mejuto Gonzalez who is known to be a disciplinarian and that should send enough of a warning for the team, or else they will likely be end the game with 10 men again.
Attack Straight From Kick-off
Inter were the most impressive to watch in the recent Derby Della Madonnina as they took the game to Milan straight from the kick-off. In Europe, Inter have always displayed a rather over conservative approach to games that they must shed if they wish to progress further. Chelsea’s defence is vulnerable as was proved by Everton and even Arsenal in the last month and it will be vital that Inter get off the blocks quickly. Ricardo Carvalho is the player Inter need to target among the Chelsea center-backs. If Diego Milito just plays off his shoulder throughout the game, he is bound to have a few chances come his way.
Two-man Cover against Drogba
Didier Drogba has been called a beast by Mourinho and that is probably the most apt description you can give of the Ivorian. Drogba’s strength is something the Inter center-backs are likely to struggle against as they haven’t come up someone like that in Serie A. Lucio will have to restrict his attacking forays and stay on Drogba throughout the game. It would be a good idea to have one of the center-backs to drop back and other one to go in on Drogba to restrict the big man. Florent Malouda could be covered by Esteban Cambiasso as soon as play enters the Inter half to suffocate Chelsea’s ball spraying tactics.
The game promises a lot and Inter might be Italy’s only hope of European progress after negative results for Milan and Fiorentina next week. Let’s see how Mourinho deals with the threat of his old club. The possible formations are listed below:
Julio Cesar, Maicon, Lucio, Samuel, J. Zanetti, Cambiasso, Stankovic, Muntari, Sneijder, Pandev, Milito
Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Carvalho, Belletti, Obi Mikel, Ballack, Lampard, Malouda, Anelka, Drogba