Inter v Bologna: "Domani, siamo solo noi: stanchi, infortunati, squalificati."

Or: "Tomorrow, there is only us: tired, injured, and suspended."
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Adriano scores against Bologna

My bologna has a first name, its P-L-E-A-S-E.
My bologna has a second name its: W-I-N-T-H-I-S-G-A-M-E...
Because Inter's Serie A form is starting to get ridiculous and we need some points already!

What: Inter - Bologna
Where: San Siro, Italy
When: Saturday, April 3, 3pm local time (6am pacific, 9am eastern). No Sunday games because of Easter.
How to Watch: FSC is showing this game on Sunday (11:30 am pacific, 2:30 pm eastern). If you want to watch it live, it will be PPV on Fox Soccer TV ($4.95 for a single game) or find a stream: MyP2P, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net

Alright. So this half-assed Serie A form is really starting to bother me. Sure, all this Champions League joy and success (even if it is only baby steps right now) is great - each new level we move towards the final is just peachy - but at the end of the day, we cant let it overshadow the league. I really want the Scudetto - just as much as I wanted it last year. It seems to me, then, that now is the time to step this puppy up and get some freaking points already.

Inter has a pretty good record against Bologna at home. In fact, they haven't won at the San Siro since a UEFA Cup Round of 16 game back in 1999. To find a Serie A win, they have to go back another year to the 1997/98 season (and then they only beat us by 0-1).

The last time Bologna came to Milan, Inter won 2-1 with Ibra's crazy backheal goal of the season (please note the self restraint in not leading this post with a picture of it) and a penalty from Adriano.

Full highlights:

THEM

First, I recommend that you take a little stroll over to the Bologna board. I know I may be immature, but I find many of Ben's posts to be hilarious - even when he is skewering Inter. When they are not funny, they are always well written and worth the time.

While Bologna is not actually in the relegation zone, they are not all that far above it, either. Still, seven points is relatively safe, and, baring a very bad run of form coupled with a a great effort from Atalanta, Udinese, and Lazio, they should avoid the drop. Still, better safe than sorry and I suspect that Bologna would not be adverse to taking a point or three away from this meeting. Oh, and Colomba may be out for a little revenge seeing as Inter handed him his worst ever loss. It was back in 2003 when he was the coach for Reggina, Inter handed them a 6-0 drubbing and Colomba was handed the sack. Yikes.

Franco Colomba has called up 20 players:

Portieri: Colombo, Spitoni, Viviano
Difensori: Britos, Lanna, Portanova, Raggi, Santos, Zenoni
Centrocampisti: Buscè, Casarini, Guana, Mingazzini, Modesto, Mutarelli
Attaccanti: Adailton, Di Vaio, Gimenez, Succi, Zalayeta

Moras is injured while Mudingayi is disqualified. Keep an eye on Emiliano Viviano, Bologna's #1 is co-owned by Inter and is supposedly being groomed for return next season as understudy to Julio Cesar.

Viviano, Bologna keeper half owned by Inter
Here's our boy snatching one away from Toto Di Natale. Well, he is half ours at least.

Up front, the big threats are Martins Adailton (10 goals) and ever-youthful Marco Di Vaio (9 goals). There are some threats coming from the midfield as well, namely Zalayeta (4 goals) and Gimenez (3 goals). With our potentially cobbled-together back line, they may be dangerous.

As a team, though, they haven't done all that well in their travels, having won only three games outside Bologna. Recently, though, they haven't won any away from home, and they come to Milan in the midst of a mini losing streak. They will be hungry and out for anything they can grab.

Bologna training
Happy happy training in the happy happy sun.

US

Mourinho has called up 19 players:
Goalkeepers: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni.
Defenders: Cordoba, Materazzi, Samuel, Chivu, Santon.
Midfielders: Stankovic, Quaresma, Thiago Motta, Sneijder, Muntari, Krhin, Mariga, Cambiasso.
Strikers: Milito, Pandev, Balotelli.

Zanetti, Maicon, Lucio, and Eto'o are all suspended for this game. Given all that, I am surprised that no youth players got called up. Of course, they all had a game on Friday (which they won) and Pea is making a real push to win our Girone (what they call the youth team groups). With this last win, we are top of the group with a game in hand (full standings here), so the kids may be a little busy.

Santon, although he is feeling better (or so says his agent), is probably not 100%. Similarly, I am surprised to see Sneijder on the call-up list. He got the snot kicked out of him against CSKA Moscow. He told a Dutch newspaper:

"My ankle and my leg are full of blood and fluid, I took two shots at the end of the first half but I felt ready to finish the game: I was told by the squad that when I left San Siro I looked like an old man. I suffered the whole game against CSKA. In any case, there is nothing broken. It is a shame because we have four fundamental men suspended against Bologna and it was important to be there, I wanted to play, but I realize that the return on Tuesday against CSKA is too important to risk it, I want to play that game ...".

So anyway, there he is on the list along with long lost Mario Balotelli. The prodigal son has finally found his way back to the family. I dont know whether his apology is the result of his slimy agent or because Moratti and Oriali finally put their foot down and said enough - I dont really care. I just know that we need his talent right about now. If he can keep it together long enough to score a few goals tomorrow and to make a positive contribution for the rest of the month - that will make me one happy camper. Right now, getting through April is my first priority. After that we can worry about May.

As for lineups, I guess it all depends on just how bad off Santon really is. If he can play, it may look a bit like:

Julio Cesar
Chivu Materazzi Samuel Santon
Stankovic Cambiasso Thiago Motta
Balotelli Milito Pandev

If Santon is really not fit, then we may see the horror of Cordoba back there instead. Yikes. We have a bit more available depth in the midfield, and Quaresma, Muntari, and/or Mariga could easily see some pitch time.

Mourinho flashin those crazy cute dimples
Mou can really rock those dimples. It seems the Moscow game gave him something to smile about.

While there are still not press conferences, Mou has been speaking to the Inter channel. Most recently, he answered questions from fans. One fan asked him if he thought the championship was a three-way struggle. Mou replied:

"Io non voglio parlare di campionato. Però non è una lotta a tre, non è una lotta a tre: è una lotta di una squadra contro tante altre cose".

which means: " I dont want to talk about the championship. However it is not a three-way struggle, not a struggle of three: it is a struggle of one squad against many other things."

Ok. And that would be that except that for some reason, Ranieri was asked to comment Mou's statement (although not specifically on the one above) in his press conference today. He said that while he didn't know if Mourinho was talking about the referees, he should understand that mistakes are made on both sides and that Mourinho needs to accept that everyone makes mistakes (I am paraphrasing - I encourage you to check out the original Italian). Of course, he then went on to enumerate some of the mistakes refs had made against Roma. After that, he went on to say that he didn't like Mourinho's character (in sort of a snarky, backhanded way) and that he didn't like to attack the referees (although he will point out their mistakes, it seems).

In any event. Mourinho was quick to respond, saying that, in fact, he had said absolutely nothing about referees. He left a quick note to us fans on the Inter web page saying:

"Who changed my words 'many other things'?
Not me.
Don't I even have the right to talk to the Inter fans without someone poking their nose in at all costs???
...Thank you...
Tomorrow it's just us: tired, injured, suspended.
Us, who, together with you, have to win a very difficult match against Bologna.
Sincere thanks to all the fans for the support and the great passion that they transmit to us, and that we all feel."
-- José Mourinho

So there you go.

Somehow, though, all of this will be Mourinho's fault for daring to actually say anything at all. Even innocuous things to his own fans. And we wonder why he doesn't like it so much in Italy. I wouldn't either if I were subjected to these constant accusations. Do you know what he meant by "many other things?" 'Cause I think he meant that the this championship is Inter's to lose and that the team has to struggle with injury, lack of focus, a hectic schedule, two other competitions, plus wild cards like Mario Balotelli and crashing a car. The fact that Claudio Ranieri thinks that Mou is talking about referees is neither here nor there. Frankly, if Ranieri really doesn't like drama (as he said in his press conference today - one more little poke at Mou one presumes) then perhaps he should quit making it.

I am sure this will bring the wrath of the Roma Fanboy Stazi masses down upon me, but, well, I guess that is the price I will have to pay. But I think I have digressed enough - besides, now I have gotten myself all in a swivit.

(deep cleansing breaths - become one with the universe - focus on Sneijder and his incredibly adorable tongue)

Sneijder shows his frustration at missing a goal against Moscow
Just because it makes me happy.

As for the game. We all know that the boys are tired and scarred - well, at least those who are allowed to play. Bologna may not be a top-tier team, but they want it and will not come to Milan as lambs to the slaughter. If we want these three points, we will have to want them more and approach the game with the mentality of winners. I am nervous about this game - I admit it. We really should have picked up a full back last winter.

Still, I think the Livorno game showed that, despite a hiccup or two, Inter really does have the depth to pull this off. I dont know if we can treble (for my money, Barcelona is still the best club in Europe and probably the world), but I think we can beat Bologna.

Right now, that is enough.

FORZA INTER

And how about a little of our fearless Captain who will miss his first game after 137 consecutive appearances. Talk about leading from the front. Even though he cannot play, he says he will stay with the squad Friday night, then Saturday evening he will watch from the stands, and "will suffer with all our fans for our Inter."

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