Gazzetta Football Italiano – Week 4 – Milan and Inter in testing times

The midweek tie between Inter and Barcelona was a fantastic tactical match between two sides that should be there or thereabouts come May. For 45 minutes, Inter displayed their own attacking abilities to a degree, in what was a very open start to the game, however the second half showed the weaknesses in this Nerazzurri side.

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The press reaction in Milan has been concentrating more on the fact that Barca had an extra level to rise to. However, as Jose Mourinho said after the game, this side has only been together for a handful of games, whereas the great Barcelona side we saw only had one new face in it’s starting line-up from last year – Zlatan Ibrahimovic. There are undoubtedly many world class players in this Inter side, with the most impressive on Wednesday being Lucio, Walter Samuel, and in the first-half, Douglas Maicon. However when Barca set up camp outside the Inter box, the limitations of the side where clearly visible. Whilst only Sulley Muntari can be said to have had a bad game, Thiago Motta lost his authority in midfield, Diego Milito is a very good striker but needs to be more effective against the top teams than this, and Wesley Sneijder was not Inter’s answer to Lionel Messi. Finally, Javier Zanetti may have been one of the all-time Inter greats, but 90 minutes against Barcelona is a lot to ask of a 36-year-old. Inter fans should be happy with the draw, in what is still a period of transition for the Beneamata.

Many people thought that Genoa’s fantastic 2008/09 season would be a flash in the pan, another example of a form side that would eventually return to it’s real level. Added into that was the summer loss of two major protagonists in their success, Diego Milito and Thiago Motta, both to Inter. Instead, they have enjoyed their best start since 1932/33, inspired by Alberto Zapater and Domenico Criscito, then a mix up front of Sergio Floccari, Hernan Crespo, Giuseppe Sculli and the promising Rodrigo Palacio. The credit however must go Coach Gian Piero Gasperini, who has produced what is an essentially different set of players into the same attacking, attractive, and above all, successful team that we saw last year.

Tuesday night in the Champions League saw Milan Coach Leonardo make a brave decision. He dropped the out-of-form Ronaldinho, favouring Clarence Seedorf as the trequartista behind Alexandre Pato and Filippo Inzaghi. The Rossoneri proceeded to get a valuable three points, winning 2-1, with SuperPippo grabbing a brace. Firstly it is amazing how often Pippo Inzaghi comes to Milan’s rescue during periods of instability, scoring vital goals. At the age of 36, he is apparently three years older than the next oldest striker in the Champions League, yet he was the star of the show against Marseille, and no doubt this won’t be the last time he helps Milan out this year. The second story was that they played better without Ronaldinho. Although the player has great potential, he is not showing any signs of it, not since the opening day of the season against Siena. The decision whether or not to bring him back for Sunday’s tie at home to Bologna would have been a difficult one for Leonardo, however recent reports say that ‘Dinho has picked up a cold and did not train on Friday. Whoever plays, Milan will need to win, and probably convincingly in order to build up the confidence around the club that seems to have disappeared after their teams focal point Kaka departed.

At the weekend Sampdoria and Genoa both have very winnable games, against Siena and Chievo, and can still be setting the pace in Serie A after these ties. Inter should pick up all three points against a Cagliari side that has struggled this season, picking up just one point from a possible nine, and Roma take on Fiorentina in the tie of the weekend, with both sides desperate to forget poor performances in European competition during midweek.

Week 4

Saturday September 19, 2009

Napoli vs. Udinese – 17.00

Juventus vs. Livorno – 19.45

Sunday September 20, 2009

Bari vs. Atalanta – 14.00

Cagliari vs. Inter – 14.00

Catania vs. Lazio – 14.00

Chievo vs. Genoa – 14.00

Milan vs. Bologna – 14.00

Parma vs. Palermo – 14.00

Roma vs. Fiorentina – 19.45

Sampdoria vs. Siena – 14.00

Gazzetta Football Italiano

Week 2 –
Welcome back
– August 28, 2009

International Week –
Spalletti stutters out
– September 4, 2009

Week 3 –
Serie A heats up, Champions League returns with a bang too
– September 11, 2009

Week 4 –
Inter and Milan in testing times
– September 18, 2009

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