Preview: Inter v Atalanta

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T – 8 games and counting. The major restructuring that is destined to happen this summer if Moratti keeps stoking the fire that is his temper gets ever closer. Everyone’s head is up for the chop and unlike a reality game show; the sick fascination is who is going to stay under his notoriously critical eye for the next season. And how will they do under that pressure.

Who: Inter v Atalanta

Date: Sunday, April 07, 2013

Time: 20:45 CET Local. 2:45 EST US

Place: The G. Meazza, Milano

Atalanta

Probable Lineup: 442

Polito; Grosso*, Canini, Stendardo*, Raimondi*; Bonaventura, Biondini, Cigarini*, Giorgi, Denis*, Livaja

*Higher rated players for the season marked with asterisks.

Leading Scorer: Denis - 12

Assists: Denis - 4

Injured/Suspended: Morales, Budan, Marilungo, Bellini, Lucchini, Consigli

Form: LWWLD

Atalanta is currently residing in 16th place on the table, 7 points above 17th place Genoa and 8 points above the relegation zone. Like Sampdoria, Atalanta is stronger at home than away. At home, Atalanta is basically even with 22 out of 45 points. Away, it’s a different story. When Team Atalanta doesn’t get their home cooking, they managed just 14 out of 45 points. Just looking at the roster, I am noting how many hard workers there are on it. Atalanta might not be a good team, but they won’t be a push over just because these guys all look like high motor players. Plus, you can bet that their coach is preaching safety, even though there are 2 teams between them and the drop. Atalanta likes to consider this a derby, but I don’t know if that’s in their best interest. They are going to be in a tough stretch coming up with Inter away, Fiorentina at home and Genoa – a six pointer – away. Atalanta isn’t in trouble of going down, but they will need to keep their distance. They are a hard one to figure for me.

Inter

Probable Lineup: 4312

Handanovic; Pereira, Juan*, Ranocchia*, Zanetti; Cambiasso*, Kovacic*, Kuzmanovic; Guarin; Cassano*, Rocchi

*Higher rated players for the season marked with asterisks.

Leading Scorer: Palacio – 10, Milito – 9, Cassano - 7

Assists: Cassano – 9, Cambiasso – 5, Palacio – 4

Injured/Suspended: Milito, Mudinagayi, Castellazzi, Obi, Nagatomo, Chivu, Stankovic, Gargano, Palacio

Form: DWLLW

Inter is currently residing 5th on the table and these last 8 games are do or die. There is no question that the loss of Palacio will be a factor but it’s the coach’s job to get players to believe that they can win and that really needs to be done here. Despite what the media thinks of the aesthetics of this team’s play, at this time of the season this team needs to think pragmatically. A win saves their jobs for one more day. A win keeps them in Europe one more day. A win puts pressure on their rivals for that goal one more day.

Somehow that focus on the day to day is going to have to overcome any depression on the growing injury list. Palacio’s injury is one more obstacle on what has been an already tortuous season, but there is no amount of gnashing of teeth that will change this situation. Rocchi is the next guy up and he’s going to have to do for right now, no matter what anyone thinks about him. If he can’t do it, well, the pantry is nearly empty.

Prediction: Inter will not look as strong as supporters will desperately want them to be, they will be what they are - an above average team missing the 2 players who scored enough to hide many of the holes and maybe took them to the next higher level tablewise. Atalanta will defend strongly, probably only sending Livaja and Denis anywhere near the center circle while Inter has the ball. Players like Cigarini will send long passes to Livaja and Denis quick on the change of possession to counter. Strama will probably try to keep as much possession as possible to protect against the counter, but also to give Cassano lots of chances to make something happen. Look for Kovacic to be relied on heavily as Inter will try to get the ball out of their end to pressure Atalanta. I would bet that Atalanta try to attack on Inter’s left.

I want to include a post script to this preview. I mentioned the fines and punishments that Inter incurred during the Inter – Juve game. I was critical of the fans who acted the way that they did, but also the President who I thought needed to do more while acknowledging his delicate position. This was posted on Inter.it today:

MILAN – This morning, on the request of FC Internazionale, the chief constable of Milan, the president of the Cabinet and the head of DIGOS met with club official Stefano Filucchi to define a joint action plan for the prevention and suppression of racist and/or discriminatory behaviour.

The Inter director stressed that in line with its tradition FC Internazionale, having already launched a specific campaign regarding the matter, will further commit to raising awareness as a preventative measure and also offers its complete collaboration with the forces of law and order to identify the small number of individuals responsible for such unpleasant incidents.

For its part, the Questura (police headquarters), recognising the commitment shown and action taken by FC Internazionale, will further sensitise its own departments (G.O.S. and Squadra Tifoserie) which have long been involved in the fight against such phenomena.

FORZA INTER

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