Claudio Villa - Getty Images
Inter welcome Fiorentina to the Stadio Giuseppe Meazza for Serie A Matchday 6. Fiorentina showed last week that they are an organized side who can challenge top-table teams. They dominated Juve and, with a bit more luck, easily could have beaten them. Inter, on the other hand, is still waiting for thier first home win - in any competition. Now, I like Fiorentina and usually wish them well, but not tomorrow. Tomorrow I want Inter to finally turn the San Zero into the San Hero.
What: Inter v Fiorentina, Serie A Matchday 6
When: Sunday, Sept 30, 8:45pm local time (11:45am Pacific, 2:45pm Eastern)
How to Watch: Live on RAI International or find a stream (wiziwig). For channels outside the US, check here. beIN Sport will be showing this game later in the day on both their English and Spanish channels.
I dislike this fixture. I genuinely like the Viola and I hate that I have to actively hope for for their defeat at least twice a year. Usually, I would wish them all the luck in the world but when it comes to Us verses Them, well, there really isn't any question: Fiorentina must get crushed. And that makes me feel a little guilty.
Overall, Inter has a good home record against Fiorentina. I hesitate to bring up how many games it has been since we lost to them at home as I wouldn't want to jinx anything. I can say that the last time Fiorentina beat us at the San Siro, Batistuta was on the scoresheet for them. So, a while ago. Last season, Inter won this tie handily, 2-0 with goals from Pazzini and Nagatomo. It was an odd night, Zanetti was serving his first ever match ban and Droopy Dog was on the bench. I guess everything worked out alright in the end, given the win and all, but I cant say that I remeber any of it. It must not have been very good because I cant even find highlights of the game. Yep. That good.
Ok. Where to start... Fiorentina have begun the season well. They sit just behind us in the table on eight points.
A quick look at Who Scored (I love that place) show that their player's generally rate highly and "the team has no significant weaknesses."
They went through a bit of a revolution over the summer, picking up Viviano, Pizarro, Aquilani, Cassani, and Luca Toni (who woulda thought?!?). More importantly, they were able to retain Stevan Jovetic, and with four goals, he is now the league's second highest scorer. He has been partnered with Adem Ljajic, who is beginning to find his form. They make truely dynamic duo.
Montello is one of those Serie A coaches who have embrased the three-man defense. Keep an eye on thier new, young, Argentine defender, Facundo Roncaglia. He didn't do so well in Spain but has but has made a great start in Italy. In the midfiedl, Pizarro seems reborn and is doing well, considering his age and what not. Viviano is finally healthy and playing for the team he loves. That has to be motivating. Alberto Aquilani is (wait for it) injured. No surprises there.
This will be a real test for Strama. Montello has put together a good team that can cut a swath through the Serie A this season. I may have to watch this one through my fingers. Fiorentina will likely look to play the wings and hit strong on the counter - two things Inter have been struggling to defend against this season. So, not only to we have the San Zero Hoodoo to fight against, but a very good team as well.
I'll say it again: Yikes.
Goalkeepers: Handanovic, Castellazzi, Belec;
Defenders: Zanetti, Silvestre, Ranocchia, Samuel, Juan Jesus, Jonathan, Bianchetti, Nagatomo;
Midfielders: Alvarez, Guarin, Mudingayi, Cambiasso, Obi, Gargano, Pereira, Duncan;
Forwards: Coutinho, Milito, Livaja, Cassano.
Palacio is still out. Strama said today that he will start training with the team on Monday but wont be risked for the EL game on Thursday. Chivu was in the squad mid-week, but had some sort of knee issue before the game so is out now. Deki and Mariga, dont even think about them for at least another month... or maybe two. A while, anyway.
I think the big question everyone is asking themselves is can we win without Sneijder. Strama says that he isn't worried, that that a team cant rely on a single individual, but I wonder. Right now, he is the closest thing we have to a white feather (or magic amulet to those who dont watch Disney films featuring flying elephants) and I wonder how the squad will react to having him injured. Of course, considering our abysmal home record, it isn't like we could lose any more than we already have been.
Can Obi make the difference? via www.inter.it
So, no Wes, no Chivu, no Rat-tail boy. Where does that leave us? Well, what do you bet with one more defensive player on the field than last game? But I cant complain. I said during the Chievo game that if Strama could make what seemed like an impossible formation work, I would grant him the benefit of the doubt. That is, I wouldn't question him again. Now, I dont think I will be able to keep that promise for ever, but I should at least honor my commitment for this game.
This honor was not bestowed last game. Of course, only one or two of you actually tried, but still, no one has gotten inside Strama's head. Not even the Italian press. He has all these injured players to deal with, a mid-week trip to Azerbaijan to plan for, and, of course, the derby on Sunday. Will he juggle players in light of the heavy schedule? Or does he go Mou style and everyone plays? Show the world that you are the Grand Imperial Poobah of All Things Inter by correctly guessing Strama's starting 11 for tomorrow's match. It comes with a certificate (personalized and suitable for framing) and bragging rights for a week at least.
Oooo! Keepers... In the rain... I like, I LIKE! via www.inter.it
BUT HOW WILL IT END
I just cant say. I dont like to make predictions - I am just too superstitious. Other sites are predicting a 1-all draw. And that would be a step up for Inter at home. Really, anything but a humiliating loss is a step up in the Serie A. Between the two of us, Inter has the most demanding schedule coming up and that may be weighing on player's minds. On the other side, Fiore had a tougher midweek match. They may be a bit mentally wiped-out. Well, at least we can hope that they are.
So, let's all try to stay positive. I know it is strange playing with so many defensive players yet so few at the back, but we should give it a chance. After all, it just may work.
I just want to take a moment to say "Good Job" to Inter's Primavera squad. They are undefeated in their group in both the league and the NextGen Series. It is nice to know that some part of the Inter world is working.
A little sample: