Inter dropped another two points in their quest for the Serie A title after drawing 0-0 away to Napoli. It was Inter’s second consecutive draw, but was also their second match in a row away from home. The match was played under floodlights at the Stadio San Paolo and Napoli had remained unbeaten for 40 games under floodlit matches.
Even though we were not treated to any goals, the game was an enjoyable affair, with the team from Naples taking a leaf out of Parma’s book on how to play the Nerazzurri. The first half was almost dominated by the Azzurri, with Inter content on a counter-attacking style and waiting for their chance. Within 10 minutes Marek Hamsik had hit the post and Napoli were turning the screw as they smelt a home victory.
Inter were missing Mario Balotelli who had been called up to the Italy Under-21 squad, but Coach Jose Mourinho still had the likes of Goran Pandev, Diego Milito and the returning Wesley Sneijder from suspension to threaten the Napoli goal. Samuel Eto’o could only find a place on the bench, and Ivan Cordoba was also dropped to the bench following his display against Parma.
As for the game the woodwork would be hit twice more, one from a cracking Douglas Maicon shot and the other from the Azzurri’s Fabio Quagliarella. The posts for both sides were to help keep the match scoreless and this was to be Inter’s first game in 53 matches that they would fail to score. But the one talking point centered on Inter’s penalty appeal when Maicon’s shot appeared to hit the hand of Napoli defender Salvatore Aronica. After the game, Mourinho who stated his respect for referee Roberto Rosetti said: “Matches like this one tonight are decided by small details.” But Mourinho seemed happy to settle for a point, adding: ”I like this advantage ( the seven point gap to second placed Roma) if somebody had told me last August, I would have accepted that straight away.”
As far as league standings Roma, who have arguably been Europe’s most in-form club remain second but have clawed back two points on Inter. But Milan maybe the real winners of the weekend. If they win their game in hand away to Fiorentina they will be six points behind their eternal nemesis. Still the Scudetto remains the Nerazzurri’s to lose. Napoli with their hard-earned draw move up to a Champions League berth to 4th place.
Since it was Valentine’s day, we will leave the last word to Jose Mourinho, asked after the game, his thoughts on the romantic day of the year: “Lets be serious, this is football not Hollywood.”