Five Lessons Learned

Well, that was fun. A lot of fun. Maybe too much fun -- as people have rightly pointed out, it's perhaps a bit hubristic to get overly excited by a victory over a team that has its work cut out just to avoid relegation this season. But I still think we learned some important things about this team today. For example...

1. Our attack is scary

I mean, we rightly could have scored at least 6 goals today if we'd finished all our chances, and we were missing Palacio, who has arguably been in the best form of all our forwards this pre-season. Most importantly, we looked utterly non-selfish in attack. Notice how our prima punta assisted more goals than he scored (and his best pass wasn't even converted -- he really should have had an assist hat trick). Notice how the ever-temperamental and egotistic Cassano passed up what could have been a goal of his own to lay off for a better shot from one of his teammates, which lead to a goal. Notice how Sneijder always tried for the key pass or through-ball rather than the low-percentage shot from outside the box. Sure, the lack of a vice-Milito is cause for concern, but I couldn't be happier to see the way our entire attacking element seems to be thinking with the same brain.

2. Our midfield is gritty

When you think back to the worst Inter showings of last season, you probably remember our backline being torn apart or our forwards going match after match without scoring. But really, the saddest single spectacle from last season was witnessing the state of our midfield. I can't even decribe the frustration I felt watching as minnow teams would pick up the ball in their own third, and basically just stroll down the pitch into shooting distance without a single threatening tackle coming their way. Well, today was wildly different in that regard. Walter Gargano may not be the most graceful player, and Fredy Guarin might make questionable decisions on the ball, but dude, No's 14 and 21 were everywhere this match: tackling intercepting, flailing about, talking shit and just generally making nuisances of themselves. We were willing to fight to defend our territory, and that's the sort of attitude that wins matches.

3. Our defense

Look, there's no denying it, our central defense situation is a little uneasy. Silvestre seems decent enough but not entirely convincing, Samuel is aging, and Juan Jesus really needs some more incubation before he's ready for prime time. We could definitely use another player here, But it wasn't awful. Aside from one bafflingly boneheaded backpass that could have easily resulted in a goal (which I now refer to as a ranocchiata -- e.g. "Mio dio, lui ha fatto una grave ranocchiata!"), Ranocchia looked more confident that I can ever remember him looking on this team, and I couldn't help but notice the way he was usually the one organizing the backline and distributing the ball from out of the area. Perhaps that's what he's been missing: at Bari, Rano basically lead the defense. At Inter, he's usually been cast in the subservient young apprentice role. Maybe Rano is a sink-or-swim sort of player, the kind who needs to be thrust into a real leadership role to really come good.

4. Our fullback situation is enviable

His contributions were the easiest to ignore, but Nagatomo had a pretty great game today, to the extent that I feel bad thinking he might be benched for Pereira just 'cause he's the new guy. (Don't believe me? Well, Naga was the only one on either team to draw a professional foul all night -- he was just impossible to deal with when he got going.) But think about it this way, if Maicon stays, then we have the following issue at fullback: Right-back being contested by Zanetti and Maicon, left-back being contested by Nagatomo and Pereira, and then Jonathan, Chivu and Mbaye sitting around as reserves. That's an almost absurd wealth of talent for the position.

5. Our backup keeper is better than most clubs' starters

I fucking adore Castellazzi, and he killed it tonight. It's almost a little depressing to think that we have all that goalkeeping talent just sitting around in case of emergency. He could be a starter on at least nine or ten Serie A teams this year. Signing him as an unheralded backup has to go down as one of Branca's better recent buys.

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