Once more, despite the huge distraction of Chelsea and Champions League, we must try to tear ourselves away and focus on the Serie A. After our woeful performance against Genoa, now is the time to kick it into gear. A win against Catania would be just the thing to set us up for that other game next week. Full disclosure here, I dont much like Catania. I think it is a bit tinged by my dislike for the city. It is the one single place in Italy that I really have no desire to go back to. Dont get me wrong, I love Sicily, but Catania is definitely one of the armpits of the earth. Inter will be without Jose Mourinho and Walter Samuel while Catania have lost Llama - for the rest of the season (yikes). Oh, and just a reminder, this game is on FRIDAY, not the weekend.
What: Catania v Inter
Where: Stadio Angelo Massimino, Catania
When: FRIDAY, March 12, 8:45pm local time (11:45am pacific, 2:45pm eastern)
How to watch: Live on Fox Soccer Channel or find a stream: MyP2P, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net
Catania is a fairly young team, and although they trace their roots back to 1908, their history with Inter does not start until 1954. That, coupled with the fact they have spent many years in the lower leagues, means Inter and Catania have only met 12 times in Sicily. Of those, Inter has only lost three. Still, Catania has not beaten Inter since 1966. When Inter and Gli Elefanti met at the Massimino last season, Inter went down to 10 men 30 minutes into the game (Muntari, straight red) but still managed to win 0-2. This year, though, they are being managed by our old friend Siniša Mihajlović so things may go a little differently. Funnily enough, though, last year Mou was suspended for this match and the club was having Balotelli problems - some things just dont change, I guess.
Last year's highlights:
There used to be a Catania board here but it seems to have gone the way of Siena and Udinese: sacrificed to the real life. So, I am thinking this little snippet is the only little Catania perspective on offer here on the offside. Too bad, because I am certainly no expert.
Catania have not had the best of seasons. After only six wins this season, they find themselves only five points above the drop - a frightening place to be. They have managed some impressive games at home, though, including thumping Bari (a pretty good team) 4-0 and Parma (another pretty good team) 3-0. Basically, they have it in them to win and win well. They have a few goal scorers, especially in Martinez (8), Mascara (6), and Morimoto (5). They would like nothing better than to put one past JC.
No more Llama for you, Sinisa!
Mihajlovic has called up 19 players:
Portieri: Andujar, Campagnolo.
Difensori: Alvarez, Augustyn, Bellusci, Capuano, Potenza, Silvestre, Terlizzi.
Centrocampisti: Biagianti, Carboni, Delvecchio, Izco, Ledesma, Ricchiuti.
Attaccanti: Martinez, Mascara, Maxi Lopez, Morimoto.
Llama (who has dreamed of playing for Inter since he was a child) is out for the rest of the season with an injury to his cruciate ligament (ouch). Marchese's season is also over, while Spolli and Bellusci are out for this week at least.
I LOVE the Inter page caption guy... There's snow stopping us... You know, because of the snow... hilarious!
Mourinho has called up 20 players:
Goalkeepers: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni.
Defenders: Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Materazzi, Santon. finally!
Midfielders: Stankovic, Quaresma, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Krhin, Mariga, Cambiasso.
Strikers: Eto'o, Milito, Pandev.
Although Chivu is not on the call up list, he has returned to full training (with a cunning little helmet a la Chech). Samuel is suspended after his yellow last week ('cause the refs just luuuv us), but Santon is back and so is Thiago Motta and Materazzi, so we have a full squad for the most part. Except Arna is out with the flu.
The glaring absence is Mario Balotelli.
The real reason for Eto'o's drop in form: Chivu was not around to translate! Suddenly, it all makes sense.
Ok, so the story is that Mario hurt his knee in training yesterday, or made it worse... Whatever he did, he is now on the injury list. Of course, that could all just be a smokescreen for the latest drama. So, remember how I posted that little interview from Mourinho (check the last post's comments)? The only one he has given in weeks and weeks? Well, a member of Balotelli's "entourage" spoke to the press and said that Balotelli was indeed ill and was puking during the interval. Mou did not like that one of Balotelli's friends was speaking to the press about the club, plus apparently Mario was slacking off in training again - or something to that effect (this is gossip, after all).
Well, the upshot is, Mou has had a word with the brass and Balotelli has taken on Mino Raiola as his new agent (his old agent was his brother). You may know that name from Ibra, Maxwell, and Maicon. This guy is the big leagues and a real jack ass. Even better? All this made the front page of the Gazzetta. I did learn one thing from that article, though: it turns out there is a 70 million euro buyout clause in Mario's contract.
Argh. Just when Balotelli was starting to look good.
All I know is that all this stupid drama just does not bode well for the Chelsea game.
But back to Catania...
One hopes that after last week's disaster, Mou will fall back and regroup with our tried and true 4-3-1-2:
Maicon Cordoba/Materazzi Lucio Santon
Stankovic Cambiasso Zanetti
And I think that is a winning line-up. At least I would hope that is a winning lineup. If those 11 cant beat Catania, we are in deep trouble.
Ok. Deep breath in.... and let it out. This game is important. I know everyone is thinking ahead to Tuesday but right now, just for today, Catania is the most important opponent in the world. I am sick and tired of these crappy 0-0 draws with teams we really should be beating (or at least scoring against!). Everyone has had a couple days off and a little time to mentally regroup so there really should be no repeats of the horror we saw last weekend. Catania is fast and young and they will try to run us down. With Cuchu back, though, I dont expect they will see a whole lot of the ball (fingers crossed). I know the squad will be without Mou again, but we beat them before without him on the bench - I see no reason why we cannot do it again.
How could I resist?