Milito converts a penalty against Bologna last year. - Mario Carlini / Iguana Press
We seem to have finally figured out how to do our thing at the San Siro, winning our last four games there (furiously knocking on wood), so now it is time to take the show on the road. To Bologna, to be exact. And Inter has done pretty well against the Rossoblu: we haven't lost at the Stadio Renato Dall'Ara since 2002. And if you ask me why I'll say: 'cause Inter Milan has a way with B-O-L-O-G-N-A.
Oh come on, you know I had to work that in here somewhere. It is practically required. (just in case you have no idea what I am talking about: Oscar Meyer commercial)
WHAT: Bologna v Inter, Serie A matchday 9
WHERE: StadioStadio Renato Dall'Ara
WHEN: Sunday, October 28, 3pm local time (7am pacific, 10am eastern. Italy has fallen back, the US has not)
HOW TO WATCH: Live on RAI International and beIN Sport Espanol (woo hoo!). Find Non-US coverage and replay times here or look for a stream here.
Serie A Stats for Bologna Inter:
On the surface, those numbers dont look so good, but given Bologna's relatively long history in the Serie A, it isn't really so bad and for the past 10 years, it has been all Inter (we haven't lost here since February 2002). Last season, our trip to Bologna was the first game with our new coach, Cladio Ranieri. We won that game 1-3 and, for a brief, shining moment, we all thought the dark, Gasperini-fueled loss days were behind us. We would find out how wrong we all were soon enough, but on this day, at least, we fans were happy.
Goals came from Pazzini and Lucio, plus a converted penalty from Milito. On their side, Diamanti was awarded a penalty to make the final score 1-3 in our favor. Hooray!
Although Bologna have had some spectacular success this season (beating Catania 4-0 and Roma 2-3), they have hit a bit of a sticky patch recently. Not only have they lost their last two games, they have only won two games all season and sit at 16th place. A quick look at the table shows just how bad it really is: they are even on points with Milan! (but Milan are playing right now so that could change) Really, they have everything to play for and not a whole lot to lose tomorrow.
Some of Bologna's woes this season may stem from losing talisman striker Marco DiVaio who moved to Toronto in the MLS over the summer (where he isn't doing very well, it seems). The Rossoblù brought in Alberto Gilardino as a replacement, and, while he does have five goals in seven games (not bad), the reality is that he got them all in three games. He hasn't scored in the past two, and, without a goal from Gilardino, Bologna doesn't seem to be able to win. None the less, he remains a threat up front for Bologna.
Aside from Gilardino, Bologna picked up a whole host of what I would call journeymen players from around the peninsula. They got Acquafresca from Genoa, Marco Motta from Juventus, Curci from Roma, and Cesare Natali from Fiorentina. They add to continuing players for the club like MAD favorite Alesandro Diamanti (who looks just terrible these days) and Inter youth product Rene Krhin (who we still co-own, I believe).On paper, this reads solidly mid table. It may be just a matter of time before the squad starts clicking.
Another factor that may be contributing to Bologna's recent bad form is their growing list of injured players, including some of the guys they just picked up this summer. Curci, Natali, and Acquafresca are all out and wont begin to make a comeback until mid-November at the earliest. Except poor Natali, he isn't expected back until next Spring. Given that Pioli's favorite formation is a 4-3-2-1, that leaves us with:
Krhin is expected to start on the bench, but, Pioli may throw him on in place of Pazzienza in the midfield. We all know that players give that extra something special against their old clubs. The either want to show the other club what they are missing or make a good impression to get recalled. Either way, he may play.
|"I just want to say one word to you. Just one word. Plastics." via www.inter.it|
Strama has called only 20 for tomorrow's game:
Portieri: Handanovic, Castellazzi, Belec;
Difensori: Zanetti, Silvestre, Ranocchia, Samuel, Pereira, Juan Jesus, Jonathan, Nagatomo;
Centrocampisti: Alvarez, Guarin, Mudingayi, Cambiasso, Gargano;
Attaccanti: Palacio, Milito, Livaja, Cassano.
As you all probably know by now, Coutinho has a stress fracture of this tibia so will be out for a month (at least). Obi is still suffering from something relatively minor. He is out but I think Strama is just trying to be cautious. Sneijder is back in Milan but not ready to play, while Chivu, Stankovic, and Mariga are still on the long-term, who-knows-when injury list.
A slightly worry for me is that three of our key players, Guarin, Ranocchia, and Juan Jesus, are on three yellows. That means one more yellow and they are suspended for a match. Not such a big deal on its own, but we only have this game and the Halloween game against Samp before the big Juve rumble. I would hate for any of them to be suspended for that game. So, should they cynically fall on their swords this game (should they play) just to pick up a yellow and be suspended for Samp? Or is that cheating? I would be interested to read what you think as I am sort of on the fence. On one hand, it is certainly gaming the rules, but, on the hand, gaming the rules is a legitimate strategy for winning. Isn't it?
But all that aside, injuries to both Cou and Sneijder leave us without a lot of creativity in the midfield. Technically, Ricky is available for this match and could help in that respect, but Strama is being very very careful with Alvarez and his injury so Ricky may start on the bench. For me, Coutinho's injury was devastating. It felt a bit doom and gloom there for a while, until I read Mister Strama's presser. He said:
"[Coutinho's] injury comes on top of Sneijder's so we're obviously deprived of two top-quality players, but if a team like Inter depends on two players - no matter how good they are - then something isn't right."
And you know what? Strama is 100% correct. If we want to be competitive again, the squad has to figure out a way to win with only three attacking players on the pitch. Let them call us provincial, we can laugh all the way to the Champions League.
On the plus side, Nagatomo seems to have recovered from his stomach flu (bad sushi?), I can only hope that means Jonathan will be in the stands.
|Are they training for a football match or the Rockettes? via www.inter.it|
For Stramaccioni, this will be a bit of a home-coming. He played for their youth team for four years, beginning when he was 14 years old. Unfortunately, his career as a defender (my favorite sort) was cut short by a terrible knee injury when he was 18. So bitter-sweet, maybe. In any event, he seems to be doing pretty spanky in the Calcio world now, so maybe all's well that ends well after all.
Whatever problems or growing pains we may be having, I can honestly say that I like Stramaccioni. I like that he is open and honest in his pressers, but he doesn't take himself too seriously. He is passionate like Mou, but without the huge chip. After the disasters of Benitez, Gasparini, and Ranieri, it is nice to be able to look at the coach of the team I adore without conflicted feelings (Leonardo was good in his time, but I am still a bit tetchy with how he left us in the lurch).
I know the team may be tired and there is the specter of Juve looming on the horizon (I dont even really want to think about them), but we just have to go to Bologna and play our game. Sure, we may suffer a bit, scuff a shot now and then, miss a pass, but so long as we are growing as a squad and come away with three points, I am a happy camper. I ain't no fancy folk. I dont need diamonds and spectacular 4-0 wins (not that I would turn them down, mind you). Nope, a simple 0-1 and three points would do me fine. Everything else is just gravy.
For those of you who dont follow me on Twitter (why dont you follow me on twitter?!?!?):
FUN FACT: Ronaldo got his first goal for Inter against Bologna at the Stadio Renato Dell'Ara in 1997.