Okay, I’ve been out for a while with a couple of issues, none of them serious, but all time consuming and important, so I wanted to get an apology out of the way first – yeah, yeah, I know, ‘ings is tough all ovah…
On to more important questions like "How can I watch the Inter Babies beat Sporting?" or "Is Andrea Poli the man to make me forget all about Galloppa?"
I think that this game is significant for all the young players that we put out there. We used 8 players who were at or under the age of 25 and they looked… okay at the very least. I get that we weren’t getting the full strength Genoa here, but that’s kinda the point, you know? We were getting a look at like against like. Our youngsters looked better than theirs, and Genoa is a very decent team.
Poli really impressed me and I am left wanting more. His movement is just wonderful. I get why he isn’t used – see above about needing every point. You can’t bench Cambiasso or Motta for Poli, not if you want a job next season. Believe it or not, I was really happy with Castaignos. I thought that he was really improved his ability to hold the ball up and fend off Serie A defenders. He’s not great at it yet, but then again when he came to us in August all he could do is run onto the ball and shoot.
Faraoni continues to play well. Obi was monstrous. Sneijder didn’t look great but he was definitely trying to get back into the swing of things. I thought that Ranocchia looked good as well.
In fact, the only thing that I didn’t like about the performance last Wednesday was the formation. The 4411 isn’t one that I think suits us. I think the strategy is sound – defend with the most people possible and then counter attack with 2 guys until the posse can fill in, but Sneijder isn’t really well suited as a second forward. He drops too deep and there is too much real estate for him to make up on his own to get the ball forward, in my opinion. Besides, to my mind, by attacking with only one or one and a half – which is what this essentially is – invites the fullbacks to join the attack. With Sneijder and two forwards in the game, instead of one, most teams would opt for 4 players back, for numbers. We give up a body in the defense but we force two to hang back… does that make sense?
Some people might have a problem with the Lazio game but I don’t. The mentality was solid – we are playing a very good team, we need points make the CL places and even 1 point is helpful as we don’t give up ground to the team in front of us. I don’t have any problem with that.
As far as our player performances go, I thought that Lucio was disastrous in the first half, but that is not exactly news, is it. I thought that he picked it up in the second. We were lucky not to concede before Rocchi put one between Samuel’s legs – especially on the ball that Lucio messed up on. Some interesting things I was thinking about Lucio as I was watching: he’s the best defensive player in the world when it comes to interceptions, statistically speaking - no player has more or has a better percentage of interceptions in the past couple of seasons. He definitely has his moments, though.
I really liked Alvarez in this game. He took his shots, including the conclusion of a great move that unfortunately he fired right at the keeper. He sent a long ball to Nagatomo that nearly turned into an excuse for the newest iteration of the greatest goal celebration ever. Alvarez holds the ball incredibly well and his passing at times is absolutely wonderful. His defense is very spotty. Can he play as the deep lying passer? Here’s my concern – he doesn’t look like he was ever taught any tactical restraint, it seems like he was only ever allowed a free hand to drift all over hell’s half acre. If he can learn to be a disciplined ball player he would be a wonderful deep playmaker… the problem is that at his age, it might be too late.
Considering the formation, this game was a bit of a head scratcher, though. I would have either left the team that worked well against Milan together or I would have just gone for the straight 4312 if predictability is an issue. I think that when things were reshaped to a configuration that the team had been using most often was when things really picked up for us.
I don’t think it was wise to bring in Chivu as a starter taking into account his last meaningful amount of game time was Dec 3rd against Udinese. Even more puzzling to me was the use of Nagatomo in the right midfield. He was doing wonderfully as a left fullback overlapping into the box and giving adequate cover defensively. Don’t get me wrong, I understand what he was trying to accomplish – he wanted more defensive cover in the fullback but still wanted Naga’s forward runs – it’s just my opinion that he overthought the whole thing. Lazio is a good team and we could have probably benefitted more from people being in their “spots”. I think it’s telling that the team played better just by moving Naga over and then again when we moved him back to fullback.
I thought that Ranieri is smart in bringing Sneijder back a little at a time. Not only does he get healthy without overdoing it, but he also gets a good look at Alvarez while on the bench. Pride is a deadly sin, sure, but it’s great motivation for someone with as big an ego – in a good way – as Sneijder.
The general consensus is that the second half was better than the first, and I agree, but I think that we had some chances in the first too. I don’t think that our problem is that we were too defensive; I think that our problem is that we didn’t put the chances we created away.
Obi is probably going to be slated by the Inter faithful but the truth is that he was very decent against a good team – and that’s not a bad thing. I think he held his own at least. Was he spectacular? No. Was he good? No, I don’t think so. Was he decent? Yes, and that’s good enough for me right now.
Of the back four I think that Samuel was the best of the bunch, not for anything spectacular but because he did his job. I think that Ranocchia was fair to good. I have confidence in him against a team like Napoli, and I think that’s significant. Napoli is a good, organized team and that front group of theirs moves around a lot. Ranocchia was able to hang in there and do a good job. I don’t blame him for the last goal – the team was playing everyone up, including Samuel, it was an all or nothing deal. Losing by 1 or losing by 2 in a knock out round is the same thing to me.
Sneijder looked like he was getting his game back some in the second half. His first half looked disjointed and his foul on Gargano will leave a mark. A red for that, as Mazzarri claims it should be, seems harsh considering that Gargano was up and walking around in about 1 second. I probably could have lived with a caution and the make up card was given moments later.
Motta was disastrous. Many people blame PSG, but I don’t. Motta isn’t a kid to get his head wrong because of some rumors or agent talk. He just had a bad game. He was moronic for fouling Cavani, there were two people in front of Cavani and he was moving sideways. If he’s moving sideways… let him go. You want to make a desperate foul on a guy, wait until events are desperate – there’s a 1v1 or you are the last man. Don’t do it when people are in place and the guy isn’t even facing the right way.
Likewise Maggio’s two handed grabbing of Milito was equally stupid. Any other referee, minus you-know-who and the loser we actually got, gives a penalty and a red for being the last man. It’s only an equalizer, take it and live to fight on… assuming the ref is part way competent. I like Maggio and I wish that Inter were smart enough to have gotten him way back when, but that was a stupid move and both he and his team are fortunate/lucky.
Maicon disappointed me a lot because he looked disinterested. Considering how he was flying around the field against Genoa in a Coppa game it was just depressing for him to be so obvious about going through the motions.
We went back to the 4411 formation that I don’t like in this game. Sneijder’s not a great fit for it and frankly, there is only so long we can fool people into thinking that we can pull off an actual 442 until they realize that we are just using smoke and mirrors to disguise a slightly wider version of the 4312, let alone pull off a 4411 with no wingers and no actual second striker. But that’s how it goes. It might be that insecurity about the components of the 442 that we use that has Ranieri scrambling to find another formation that we can squeeze into better. I don’t think that the 4411 is it, Claude.
Last night while I was watching the Napoli – Inter game I caught the second half of the Sporting – Inter game. It was impressive to watch the young’uns fit into their lines for defense and launch the counter. It was impressive to see how physical the game was and how eager Inter Babies were willing to mix it up. There was no backing down, even though Sporting thoroughly thought that they were the better side. It was all over the faces of these kids that they knew they were better. I hope these guys don’t gamble because their thoughts were all over their faces.
The Babies went ahead at about 60’ on a header from a defensive player I never heard of on a corner taken by Bessa. Bessa is the playmaking catalyst for the team and he’s been with Inter forever it seems. The Babies then held on… sometimes with only fingernails for the next 30ish minutes for the win. The Portuguese team looked very technically gifted and they had obviously been together a long time. They were the team of the group stages plowing through without a loss and suffering only 1 draw. They even were the high scorers. Even when they were down they looked confident of equalizing.
Talking about gaining and keeping confidence… if you saw Lorenzo Crisetig’s face last night it was brimming with confidence. I think he was smiling the whole game long, like he was party to a joke only he knew about. Or that he was party to an epic practical joke. Anyway, Inter were the obviously much better organized side. It was stark when one looked at both teams playing. I am going to be watching the next game for sure, I think it was better than watching a Serie B game.
As I write this Thiago Motta is in stay/go mode. I think he’ll go only for an outrageous sum. Inter bought Thiago from Genoa for about a few million + a passel of youth players so that the total was somewhere between 10-15 million combined ( I regularly use the Forza Inter Forums to get a lot of this data and they say it was 2 mil cash). PSG’s offer is lower than that and I have heard tell of totals from 5-10 million. The problem is threefold - 1. Motta earns more than Inter would like to limit him. 2. Motta is 29 and athletic he ain’t. 3. His contract is up in a year + a couple of months and Inter aren’t sure they want to resign him, but they are sure that they don’t want to pay him his current contract. So the conclusion to all this is going to be either they resign him to a lot less money or they sell him to the first team that gets close to 10 million. It’s been well documented that the coach and the other players would rather he stay and that tells me something about his ability to be part of a team.
Thankfully, it seems as though we have Juan Jesus and he’s in Milan on the team – not loaned out. There are rumors over lots of other players, but the most significant are:
1. The exit of Muntari to Genoa. It’s hoped that this will unlock Veloso or Kucka but I don’t think that Genoa want him for the half season until Milan do their usual bargain basement shopping and take him. I don’t think that Genoa will let either of those two without a hefty fee. I think Veloso is intriguing but not worth the amount that Genoa wants.
2. Inter and Parma entered into several youth player exchanges including Crisetig. I recall reading that many were upset about this but I am not. It’s just insurance. He’ll go there to play for a while and if he’s any good he’ll come back. If he’s not than he’ll be Parma’s problem. Inter made the same deal for Obi and look! He’s back.
3. Coutinho wants to be loaned to San Paolo in Brazil for the half season. He’s not playing here and he really wants to get a shot at the Olympics which are a much bigger deal for the Brazilians than they are for us. It’s the Olympics that are holding Lucas in Brazil. And coincidently enough he’s at San Paolo too…hmm.
4. Reps of Guarin and/or Porto are meeting with people here. The papers believe this is proof positive that Inter are selling Motta this winter. I suggest that if the papers believe this then it’s a good reason to be skeptical of this plan. Inter have known that they need a new midfielder for ages. On this very website I have been crying out for a new midfielder since August. This might be it, heavy emphasis on might.
I believe that this winter Inter will buy as little as possible. I didn’t think that the Tevez thing was real, just a way to make Milan pay for a product. Juan Jesus was worth less than 5 mil, I think. There was the purchase of a new striker from Cesena for the Primavera and there were a few youth sales/exchanges that even I threw up my hands at. It’s going to be a long trip into the black of the ledger sheet. Those young’uns who are coming back from Portugal better grow up quick.