See, we were supposed to win that Serie A game last weekend - then the titles of the two previews would have made more sense. Oh well. The boys are back in Florence for the second game of our "double header." This time, it is to see who moves on to the finals in the celebrated Coppa Italia. Ok, so some of you may have detected a hint of sarcasm there. The truth is, the Coppa is largely a throw away tournament in Italy. In short, it wishes it were the FA Cup but, unfortunately, most people just dont care. Well, with the exception of the the last four teams still in it: Inter, Fiorentina, Roma, and Udinese.
For Fiorentina and Udinese, it is a ticket to European play next year. For Roma, it is the opportunity to possibly double (and hence stick it to those snooty Northern teams) whilst being the first team to get to add a shiny silver star to their jerseys. For Inter, it may be our only real shot at silverware this season - and goodness knows it would be nice to win something (all that Zeru Titoli talk last season may come back and bite us in the collective ass). Unfortunately, as last weekend shows, a small light has gone out of the squad's eyes. It may be they are just exhausted, or entirely disheartened to have gotten this far in the Champions League only to draw Barcelona again. Whatever it is, this game will be a grind. If we go on and defend our 1-goal lead, it will be through the sheer force of Mourinho's will. Luckily, Jose Mourinho is one exceptionally strong-willed dude.
What: Fiorentina v Inter, Coppa Italia Semifinal, Second Leg
Where: Stadio Artemio Franchi, Florence, Italy.
When: Tuesday, April 13, 8:45pm local time (11:45am pacific; 2:45pm eastern)
How To Watch: GolTV is showing it live, so is ESPN360 (RAI International is showing Serie B). If neither of those work for you, find a stream: MyP2P, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net
Inter has only met Fiorentina in Florence in the Coppa Italia 5 times. Oh, and we have never won any of them. Nope, not a single one: 2 draws and 3 losses. Most recently was a 3-1 thumping back in 1996. So, Inter have a chance to make history - sort of. Tomorrow could be the first time Inter beat Fiorentina, in Florence, in the Coppa Italia. Ok, so it isn't first-man-on-the-moon type material, but it would still be a first.
The first leg of the tie was so long ago, I hardly remember it. Anyway, we won 1-0 and so go to Florence with the slenderest of leads. Oh, and remember, this is when all the Balotelli trouble started again in earnest.
To refresh our memories (and because there is no video of the 1996 meeting) (so I changed the video - no more sexy tattoo girls, sorry):
Tim has a preview over on the Fiorentina board. Check it out for line-ups and call-ups and injuries and what not.
Jose and the stink-eye of doom.
The Call-up List:
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar, Orlandoni, Belec.
Defenders: Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Materazzi, Samuel, Chivu.
Midfielders: Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Krhin, Mariga, Cambiasso.
Strikers: Eto'o, Milito, Pandev, Balotelli, Arnautovic.
Basically, everyone who went before gets to go again, except Stankovic has been swapped out for Thiago Motta and Quaresma has been strangely left at home. Toldo and Santon are still injured, both had the day off today. I guess that probably means that tactically this will be Saturday, Take 2, except they will have Vargas and a rested Gilardino back. Super.
Alright, given what I have learned about Mou these last couple of years, I will now predict the lineup for tomorrow:
Maicon Lucio Samuel Zanetti
Thiago Motta Cambiasso
Eto'o Sneijder Pandev
Which is exactly what he wanted to do last game except Stankovic injured himself so he had to throw Zanetti into the midfield - or at least, that is what I read.
Confession time: I haven't watched Saturday's game yet. It was a beautiful day here in Seattle so we spent it at the park with the dog. The game is lurking on my DVR and I just dont know if I have the strength to watch it. I heard tell that maybe Julio Cesar is not at his all-time best and perhaps he has literally dropped the ball a bit this season, especially as compared to last season. In rebuttal, may I say that the poor man is not a machine. Everyone has their human moments and I still love him. Besides, would you really rather have Paolo Orlandoni or Vic Belec out there tomorrow? I thought not.
As for the rest, well they are exhausted. Plain and simple. And who wouldn't be. At least after tomorrow we have a few home games so squad will not have to travel - every little bit helps.
I know we can win this game tomorrow - I just dont know if we will. Still, I am mustering every little particle of good faith I have left and I am going to say that the team have learned from their mistakes on Saturday and are going to come back raring to go. We can do this - we have beaten Fiorentina at home before, we can do it again.
For all of you down on my boy JC - watch this video and then tell me he isn't fabulous. It still makes my heart sing...