A lot rides on this weekend - it could decide the whole championship. There are tasty match-ups all around the peninsula: Roma have thier derby, Milan go to Samp, and, here in Milan, the Old Lady comes to town. For me, this is a pretty scary prospect. I know, Juve have almost lost as many games as they have won this season, but that just means they are like a wounded animal - a bitey scratchy snarley wounded animal. And the thing about wounded animals is that you never know if they are going to just slink off and die somewhere or leap out and eat your face off. Plus, as every Inter fan knows, there is some strange hoodoo at the San Siro that turns struggling out-of-town football teams into well-oiled passing machines. Whatever their problems, as soon as they step on that pitch they seem to find deep inner reserves of talent. I would not put it past Juve to have a resurrection of sorts - just to spite us. In any event, any match between Inter and Juventus is a take-no-prisoners slug fest. This Friday will be no different.
What: Inter v Juve
Where: San Siro, Milan
When: Friday, April 16, 8:45pm local time (11:45am pacific, 2:45pm eastern)
How to Watch: Live of Fox Soccer Channel and RAI International, or find a stream: MyP2P, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net
Juventus is a mixed bag when they come to Milan. Of the 89 times Juve has come to town, Inter has won 41 times and drawn an additional 28 games (we wont talk about those last 20). There have been a couple smackdowns - a 4-0 in 1979 and another 1984 - but usually this game is decided by a single goal. Last season, that goal came from a little piece of luck called Muntari. It wasn't a pretty goal, but the win was sweet - even if it was only a 1-0.
Highlights (of a sort):
I am sure that Robert or Alessio will have something up over at the Juve board. If you want to know about them, I suggest you go over there. I am sure they will have a complete run down at some point or another. Really, as far as we're concerned, it is all about the injuries. Right now, Caceres, Chimenti, Grygera, Trezeguet, and Giovinco are all out injured. It is still early though, the list could easily grow by the time the game starts.
Diego is apparently still recovering, and, although he is expected to play, he may not start.
Oh, and Amauri has gotten his Italian passport, we will see if that improves his form at all.
Heads down, hard at work.
Mourinho has called up 19 players:
Goalkeepers: Julio Cesar, Orlandoni, Belec.
Defenders: Cordoba, Zanetti, Lucio, Maicon, Materazzi, Samuel.
Midfielders: Stankovic, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Cambiasso.
Strikers: Eto'o, Milito, Pandev, Balotelli, Arnautovic.
Toldo and Santon are still injured, Chivu is suspended for this game, and I guess Quaresma and Mariga have been left out for technical reasons. Well, I suppose Quaresma could have been left out because Mou doesn't like his new hair style, but that seems unlikely. Stankovic is available, although not 100%. He is expected to start from the bench.
Who is serving whom? Certianly a move is being busted. There may even be some throwing down.
Given Mou's penchant (mania?) for the most hateful formation ever formulated, I (and La Gazzetta) think it may go a little like this:
Maicon Lucio Samuel Zanetti
Balotelli/Pandev Sneijder Eto'o
Blech. That formation just reeks of conceded goals (old wet wool socks mixed with fish heads and cabbage farts). It under-utilizes Eto'o and stretches the midfield far too much. Why oh why will Mou not play the much happier 4-3-1-2? We could at least start that way then shift into the horror formation later if we have to. There must be something I am missing because I just cannot figure out what the attraction is. Sure, it should work. But if it isn't, why not try something else? Argh. At least the good old diamond formation would save me from a few gray hairs (not that I have any, or anything. Raven haired, like the day I was born. Yep).
Still, I foretold something similar for the Fiorentina game and was completely bowled-over by Mou's selections (Maicon as a midfielder - crazy!). He could definitely surprise us all tomorrow. Without our weekly press conferences, there is just no way to know - well, short of climbing trees that is.
Zanetti - 500 times Inter.
Whatever Mou plays tomorrow, I am hoping for a good showing from the boys. I know we have the dreaded Catalans on the horizon, but damn it, this game is important. They think we will be distracted. I hope to show them wrong. True, we lost the Serie A games before Chelsea (to Catania) and CSKA (to Roma), but those were away games and I am hoping to break the cycle tomorrow at home. Plus, this game will be Mourinho's 100th with the club. And Zanetti's 500th. That aught to count for something. If nothing else, we should win this for Zanetti and the sheer joy of stopping the unspeakable evil that is Juventus.
Although Juve are (and have been) on the ropes this season, they are much better off now than they were in January. At least now, no one has the trotts (eeeewwww). There are those on this board who are hoping for a big win - a blood bath of epic proportions. While I wouldn't say no to such a scenario, my actual needs are much simpler. I want to win. If that means 1-0 then so be it - I will take it with a smile on my face and a song in my heart. A 2-1 is ok as well, although a sparkly clean sheet would certainly be a cherry for the cake.
To celebrate Mou's 100. Grazie Tante, Mister.