In a week where the Fiorentina patron happily declared that Cesare Prandelli’s contract renewal will be a formality thanks to the phenomenal win over Lyon in the Champions League, Jose Mourinho’s job was under pressure and he was eager to prove his worth. As for Prandelli himself, he was trying to cope with a number of players injured and hoping to secure Fiorentina’s first win at the San Siro since 2000.
But the match did not start well for la Viola as Inter created plenty of chances and came close to taking the lead several times. Sulley Muntari had two brilliant chances to put Inter in the lead – the first went wide and the second he squandered when he selfishly took a shot from a tight angle when he could have just squared it to Samuel Eto’o. Nonetheless, the opportunities were coming thick and fast and Sebastian Frey was forced into making his first save when Diego Milito struck on the 16th minute and he was left relieved when Ricardo Quaresma shot just wide.
Despite their chances, Inter were growing frustrated at their inability to score. Within minuets of the start of the second half Walter Samuel gave the home side the lead with a diving header but the goal was disallowed due to shirt puling inside the box. Frey again made an excellent save to deny the Nerazzurri but the hosts were relentless in their pursuit of the lead. La Viola attempted to get back into the game but only had their first real chance in the 80th minute when Alberto Gilardino managed to lose his markers and was left facing Julio Cesar but his shot hit the post, leaving the striker devastated. Inter finally found their goal when Gianluca Comotto conceded a penalty, thus allowing Milito to step up and take the shot – he scored and secured all three points.
Jose Mourinho: “This was the most important game and Inter put in a great performance. For 80 minutes my side played better and had the chances to score.”
Cesare Prandelli: “Let’s leave this stadium with our heads held high. Inter pressed more, but when Fiorentina went forward they were more dangerous.”
The Special One, who had been brought in to win the coveted European title, had found himself in an embarrassing situation when Barcelona outplayed, outclassed and outmanoeuvred the Beneamata in the Champions League midweek fixture. As such, and to overcome Prandelli’s preparations, Mourinho gave Ricardo Quaresma a rare start to surprise the visitors who had not bargained on facing the Portuguese winger, who has been a massive disappointment at Inter and frequently finds himself left out of even the bench. Without Wesley Sneijeder, Mourinho had to settle for a 4-3-3 formation with most believing that Mario Balotelli would accompany Eto’o and Milito in attack. But the Coach decided to bench him, preferring the crème de la crème of the flops, Quaresma. It proved to be a genius move from the Tactician, as when you don’t expect something, you don’t prepare for it, and Quaresma took full advantage of Fiorentina’s surprise by seriously troubling the opposing defence. His crosses were accurate and he dribbled well and very nearly scored his first goal of the season. The trivela expert was incredibly eager to impress and he did just that with his pace and vision which certainly added a new and unexpected dimension to the Inter attack.
Resultantly, Balotelli found himself on the bench in the same week that his Under-21 Coach, Pierluigi Casiraghi, explained to the public why Juventus fans are not racist – the starlet’s personality is simply irritating. Perhaps it was this horrendous attitude and diva like personality that led to him being left out or perhaps Mourinho is aware of the boy’s awesome skills but he chose to rest him in order to have him fit and prepared to face Juventus, the team that loves to hate him. Either way Quaresma has impressed and might just be afforded more time upfront.
As for Fiorentina, they really fought for the points but appeared haunted by the recurrent failure at the home of the Milanese giants as they suffered their eighth consecutive defeat in the Giuseppe Meazza. This would have been a thrilling match had Fiorentina not been without so many of their star players and now Marco Marchionni has been added to that list. The defence clearly suffered when attempting to contain the strength and pace of the Inter attack and, without Alessandro Gamberini, the task proved to be that much more difficult. Unless the Tuscan side invest in adequate replacements for their injured defenders then they will continue to struggle in upcoming matches and ultimately will have to fight till the last day to secure a top four place. As for the defensive midfielders, they might as well have been absent and Inter did brilliantly to limit their contribution. The hero of the night for the visitors was Sebastian Frey yet again. The goalkeeper was simply outstanding and kept his team in the game, performing miracle saves. Prandelli will hope that the return of Stevan Jovetic and Gamberini will restore the sparkle to his side in their next few games.
Inter 1-0 Fiorentina – Milito 84
Inter (4-3-3): Cesar – J Zanetti, Samuel, Lucio, Chivu – Stankovic, Cambiasso, Muntari (Thiago Motta 72) – Quaresma (Mancini 72), Milito (Viera 87), Eto’o
Fiorentina (4-2-3-1): Frey – Comotto, Kroldrup, Dainelli (De Silvestri 76), Gobbi – Montolivo, C Zanetti – Marchionni (Jorgensen 18), Santana (Castillo 86), Vargas, Gilardino (Borriello 60)
Inter – Fiorentina
8 – Corners – 8
23 (6) – Shots (on target) – 14 (5)
21 – Fouls – 14
2 (0) – Yellow cards (Red) – 4 (0)
3 – Offside – 2