First: Happy 800th Javier Zanetti. A Captain among captains. A Bandiera among bandiere. Thank you for all the years, all the memories, all the feelings. Everything. Here's to the next 800!
I am so ready to get to the regular group stages already. Before we can get there, though, we need to get through these Romanians. This will be a short preview because, frankly, I just cant find all that much information out about them.Who: FC Vaslui v Inter Milano
What: Europa League First Leg Play-off Round
Where: Stadionul Ceahlaul in Piatra Neamt
When: Thursday, Aug 23, 9:45 local time (11:45am pacific, 2:45pm eastern)
Why: European glory
Yes!!! Saved in the nick of time! Check comments below for carriers. Please post links to good streams in the comments! Hooray!
Liveblog: Probably not. Sorry, must work.
Ok, this is what I have been able to find out about FC Vaslui:
1. They finished second in the the Romain Premier League last season.
2. They got booted out of the Champions League early in the month by losing 2-5 in aggregate against Fenerbahce in the third qualifying round. The second leg, where they lost 1-4 at home, was the first time they had ever lost a European match at home. So they may be out for blood come Thursday. Redemptive blood.
3. They held Lazio to draws both home (0-0) and away (2-2) last season in the EL group stages. Strama keeps saying that they knocked Lazio out, UEFA says it was Atlético. But whatever, he has a lot on his mind.
4. Piatra Neamt is way out in the back and beyond of Romania. It is practically Moldova, which, so my Moldovan acquaintances say, is far away from everything.
5) They have a Brazilian.
I cant find any stats for the club in terms of line-ups or high scorers or anything. I guess we will just have to wait and see.
Strama doesn't look all that happy to be in Romania. Yikes. via www.inter.it
And Then There Is Inter
Strama brought 20 players to Romania:
Portieri: Castellazzi, Belec, Cincilla;
Difensori: Zanetti, Silvestre, Maicon, Ranocchia, Samuel, Juan Jesus, Jonathan, Bianchetti, Nagatomo;
Centrocampisti: Sneijder, Guarin, Mudingayi, Cambiasso;
Attaccanti: Coutinho, Palacio, Milito, Livaja.
Wow, that list sure looks a little heavy at the back. I think it is clear that a couple defenders will be pulling double duty as midfielders this game.
Handonovic is injured, as is Chivu. Longo is probably going out on loan. He has been linked to both Bologna and Espanyol. Either way, I think it will be good for him. Although I haven't heard anything specific, I think there may be impending loan deals for others of our youngster which is why they didn't make the trip either.
Which Brings Us To Lineups
Yikes... Where to begin...
Ok, in the friendly last weekend, Strama tried a 4-3-2-1 (otherwise known as the Ancellotti Special) with Sneijder and Coutinho behind Palacio. I bet Guarin gets a start as well. Strama brought him to the pregame presser today, he wouldn't do that then make the boy ride the bench. That would be just plain mean.
Stramaccioni suggested in his presser today that Maicon was with the team, and until such time as he wasn't, he would be available. So maybe we see a little Maicon tomorrow. It could happen. You never know. Strama was even making noises about (gasp) Maicon staying, saying:
"Maicon is in great shape. He's training very well indeed, he really is looking very good... He's an Inter player and I have an excellent relationship with him, so I don't see why I shouldn't be able to use his quality for the good of the team, at a time when his mind is focused and he cares a lot about these colours. There's no prohibition on me using him. We'll see what happens between now and 31 August."
See, doesn't that sound like Strama is going to use a little sweet talk and make the guy stick around a bit?
I think it is going to take a few more games and the market to finally close before we get a good sense of who Strama's starting 11 will be. At least, it will take me a few weeks. We have all been through a lot of changes this summer and I am not quite sure what the final product will be. Strama seems to feel the same. He said today:
"I think it's been a strange summer for Inter. I think in our heads, and probably in the president's head too, we had this idea of trying to build something new. It doesn't take anything away from the amazing cycle the club has had in the last ten years, but it's been a strange summer for us: ten players have left, six new ones have been brought in so far. That's quite a change. Now we just have to concentrate on our work and let our football do the talking, show people that we're on the right path. It will take a bit of time and we have to work for it."
One thing we all know now, though, is that you cant let your concentration slip for a minute. Strama doesn't see any use in losing and neither do I. By now we all know that it doesn't matter how far afield we travel, how seemingly provincial or obscure the team, they can, if given half a chance, kick our asses. I just hope their keeper isn't quite as good this time.
So let's just go out there, play our game, and win. If nothing else, do it for Pupi.
Welcome aboard, Cassano. Dont make me regret it!