What: Inter v Bari
Where: San Siro, Milan
When: Sunday, August 23, 6pm local time (9am pacific, noon eastern).
How to Watch: The match will be on Fox Soccer Channel (not live) at 10am pacific, 1pm eastern. If you want to watch it live, find a stream: MyP2P, Justin.tv, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net.
Wow. I cant believe it is time for the new season - this summer has just flown by. Ready or not, here we are, on the eve of a new season and ready to defend our scudetto... again. This time we start against the newly promoted side of Bari. To say they have something to prove is an understatement. They will come to the San Siro eager to show they belong in the Serie A and with nothing to lose. This one may be tricky.
NO HIGHLIGHTS, HOW ABOUT A LITTLE HISTORY
It has been a long time since Inter and Bari have met on the pitch in a "real" game (we played a friendly last summer, but that hardly counts). The last time was in 2002 for a Coppa Italia match. Ominously, that was the last time Bari played at the San Siro and they beat Inter 1-2 (they beat us in the away leg, too). To find a league match-up, you have to go all the way back to the 2000/2001 season. Inter fared better that year, beating Bari both at home and away (note Bobo scoring the winning goal in Milan above). Generally speaking, Inter usually beat Bari, both at home and away. Of the 29 times Inter and Bari have played in Milan, Inter has lost only 3 games. In addition, we have out scored them by a factor of 3 (74 to 21). When you look at all 58 meetings between Bari and Inter in the Serie A, though, Bari fare a bit better: Inter have won 32, drawn 14, and won 12. Plus, with Bari's home games added in, Inter have only scored twice as many goals as they have. Still, however you look at it, Inter have the advantage - statistically speaking that is.
Luckily, Bari has a blogger on this board so I dont have to do much here. Thank goodness because I know almost nothing about this team (except that I have a Pavlovian want for breakfast cereal when I see their crest).
My Football Italia magazine has a little write-up about the team where they point out that under Conte, Bari played an attacking 4-4-2 that easily morphed into a 4-2-4 in order to exploit the width of the pitch. Now, though, without Conte, Football Italia wondered if Bari would play a more "traditionally Italian" defensive game. I guess we will see tomorrow, wont we.
Hopefully Eros will post the call-up list as I cant find any information - anywhere. So, In lieu of a possible line-up, I have been in contact with Eros (the Bari blogger) who was nice enough to answer a couple of my questions:
Which player do you think will make the biggest impact for Bari and why?
Our keeper Jean-Francois Gillet will definitely have the biggest impact for us. Since coming in 2000 he has become not only our captain but also the third most capped player in the history of Bari with 280 mathces to his name. He represents everything that Bari stands for and he will be looking to prove himself against the likes of Eto'o and El Principe Milito.
Which player do you wish would never take the field and why?
I think all our players our consistent so this question is hard. I would say that it's between Lamberti and Paro. I know that their both very promising players for us, Lamberti being one of the most talented young keepers in italy and Paro being able to provide a lot of depth to our squad. The reason I chose these two players are because if Lamberti plays tomorrow against Inter it means that Gillet would have to get injured and Paro is not in form and still recovering from injury so I wouldn't want Bari to risk him.
What do you think Bari's main strong points are as a team?
Our strong points right now are our surprise aspect and our hunger to prove that our place is in Serie A. We have very talented players like Ranocchia and Barreto who Inter don't fully know yet, that's were the surprise aspect would come from. As the season grows on managers will be able to know and understand the movements of our players having studied our previous performances, but this being our first match, there could be a lot of room for some surprises. After being back in the Serie A we won't let anyone stop us without giving a fight, Inter or Chievo no one will find an easy match against the galletti. Our hunger to thrive is huge and probably our strongest point right now.
The only thing I want to add is that Inter youth product, Meggiorini, will be suspended for this game.
Mourinho has called up 20 players:
Portieri: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni.
Difensori: Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Materazzi, Chivu, Santon.
Centrocampisti: Stankovic, Quaresma, Thiago Motta, Muntari, Vieira, Krhin, Mancini.
Attaccanti: Eto'o, Milito, Balotelli.
Mou seems quite clear in his mind with who he has convened and who will play tomorrow, saying: "I have a game to play tomorrow, I have 20 players convened, I know without doubt the team that will start in the game, I know which players will be on the bench."
He also dropped a hint or two about formations:
In this time without Esteban Cambiasso have two options to deploy the team with the roar: to play with Stankovic in the trquartista position insert Vieira or Zanetti in the defensive position of the diamond. There is no other option. If we are still lacking one of these players, I will not play like that, but I'll play with three players in midfield and with three players in attack.
Watch out Julio, the man is made of tissue paper and we need him to stay in working order!
So, what do you bet the game will start like this:
Maicon - Lucio - Chivu - Zanetti
Muntari - Vieira - T.Motta
Eto'o - Milito
But I dont think Vieira can play a full game. At some point, he will come out. Hopefully, at that point Santon will go in, moving Zanetti up and dropping Stankovic back to make room for Balotelli. Complicated, I know. I am also interested to see Krhin on the call-up list. It seems that of all the youth players Mou has been toying with this summer, he is the one that has impressed the most.
Moving on to transfer issues, Mourinho refused to speak about either Sneijder or Burdisso saying those were matters for the club. He did, though, speak a bit about Cassano and why all those rumors turned out to be false, saying:
"I do not want players who scored against us (Smiles). He scored and I did not take him in to my team, the same happened with Acquafresca. Milito has never done it and is now at Inter. If it comes to players who have scored against us, they celebrated the goal and now they want to come here, I do not want it ... (Smiles). I like Antonio, but when he scored goals against us he canceled the possibility to come to my team."
Good thing he was smiling when he said that or someone might actually have believed him. Still, let that be a warning to all those in Serie A who would like to wear the Black and Blue - score against us and feel Mou's mighty wrath! No Inter for you.... EVER (mwahahaaaaa). Well, or at least if you score against us, dont celebrate.
No, but he was not serious. Mourinho did admit that he was keeping his eye on Cassano and come winter, things may look differently. He said: "Cassano plays as a striker at Sampdoria. If by December he has played for his national team and played as a trequartista, then I will take a good look at him. Then I will decide in December."
So all you Cassano lovers, cross your fingers and pray that he finally gets a call-up.
As we head into our next season, on the hunt for our fifth consecutive scudetto, I feel it is imperative that we do not go into this match with any preconceived notions of superiority. The team must not consider themselves favorites or we may end up with egg on our faces. Bari can beat Inter - and boy howdy would they love to take 3 points back to
APuglia (whoops). True, on paper Inter has everything they need to put a serious hurting on Bari, but half of our starting line-up is new this year and there has not been much time for the team to really gel and find that automatic understanding between players. I am afraid that we may see a few slack passes tomorrow and miss-timed runs. Also, losing Cambiasso is not good. Really not good. I have faith in our depth, but Vieira always makes me nervous.
Oh no, it looks like Balotelli has been taking Thiago Motta to his barber. Stripes?!?
Allora, Ragazzi, ora cominciamo la nostra nuova stagione, non come i campioni d'Italia, ma con zero punti, come tutte le altre squadre. Ora dobbiamo provare a noi stessi e vincere. Numero 18, ci siamo!
Well, maybe we can afford to look back just a little, although the Ibra thing still smarts: