There was a positive aura about Inter as they headed into the 27th round of league fixtures. The Nerazzurri were unbeaten in four consecutive matches and most importantly the home side was celebrating its 106th year of existence. What better way to celebrate Inter's "birthday" than with a victory at the Giuseppe Meazza?
The home side faced their mid-table Turin based opponent in what hoped to be their fifth consecutive unbeaten match. With defensive stalwarts like Samuel and Juan Jesus out for the game due to suspension the task would be that much more difficult.
Could Inter continue their run of form of late to top off the Nerazzurri birthday celebrations or would another Turin based team try to tarnish the festivities?
Official Lineups from the Inter site:
Inter XI (3-5-2): Handanovic, Rolando, Ranocchia, Campagnaro (Andreolli 76), Jonathan, Guarin (Kovacic 69), Cambiasso, Hernanes, Nagatomo, Palacio, Icardi (Taider 89).
Unused substitutes: 30 Carrizo, 12 Castellazzi, 4 Zanetti, 17 Kuzmanovic, 20 Botta, 22 Milito, 33 D'Ambrosio.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri.
[Note: Samuel and Juan Jesus were both unavailable due to suspension which led to a change in the defensive lineup and the insertion of Ranocchia and Campagnaro].
Torino XI (3-5-2): Padelli, G. Rodriguez, Basha (Meggiorini 85), Farnerud, Immobile, Cerci, Vives (Tachtsidis 65), Moretti, Kurtic (El Kaddouri 57), Vesovic, Darmian.
Unused substitutes: 23 L. Gomis, 32 Berni, 10 Barreto, 14 Gazzi, 31 Gyasi, 34 Barreca, 49 Aramu.
Coach: Giampiero Ventura.
Officials: Calvarese, Barbirati, Schenone, Ghiandai, Celi, Tommasi
(In case you missed it, please click here for the SB Nation Inter Offside Live Match Thread).
Inter lined up with a Mazzarri favorite 3-5-2 formation with Handanovic in goal and a three man backline of Rolando, Ranocchia, and Campagnaro. The five man midfield consisted of Jonathan, Guarin, Cambiasso, Hernanes and Nagatomo with a strike force of Palacio slightly behind young Argentine striker, Icardi.
Ranocchia made a rare appearance as Samuel and Juan Jesus were both unavailable and this may be the opportunity he needed to prove that he could still be a valuable component of the Inter defense.
The first moments of the match consisted of a lot of back and forth play with the home side finally beginning to gather steam with their midfield possession and offensive attack approximately midway through the first half.
The Nerazzurri offense had its first real threat on goal with a cracking header by Palacio that forced an incredible save by the Torino keeper, Padelli to keep a clean score sheet .
A great understanding between midfield maestro Cambiasso and goal phenomenon, Palacio ensued as the two Argentines connected for goal in the 30th minute of play. An incredible header by Palacio was converted to ensure that Interisti would carry on with the birthday celebrations at the Meazza.
The first half dominated by the Nerazzurri came to a close with the home side leading Torino by a score of 1-0 thanks to the heads up play by Palacio.
While Inter dominated control and possession of the ball in the first half, the visitors came out with aggression in the second half as they tried to equalize.
The Nerazzurri lacked a bit of intensity in the second half and as if the Inter boss sensed a change was needed in the 24th minute of the second half, Mazzarri substituted Guarin for Kovacic.
Campagnaro came off soon thereafter in the 30th minute to make way for Andreolli as the Argentine was still coming back from an injury. The last substitution for Inter came in the 44th minute of the second half as Icardi came off for midfielder Taider as the Nerazzurri looked to hold onto the 1-0 lead and victory.
Despite the lowered level of intensity in the second half, Inter were able to hang onto the win and gained three valuable points which saw the gap between 4th and 5th place in the league dwindle to only one point as the Nerazzurri make a push for European competition next season.
While Icardi is an incredibly talented young striker, the area which may be in the need of most improvement may be his movement. Although he has only started two matches and is most likely regaining match fitness after a season plagued with injuries and considering that passes at times may be wayward, he needs to develop his off the ball movement and do a better job at anticipating where the ball will be rather than wait for the pass and play behind the ball. Anticipatory movement both on and off the ball is where the young striker should focus on developing instead of waiting for passes behind the play. The type of familiarity needed in playing with the same players and anticipating where they will pass the ball comes with time and so will this added dimension to the young striker's talents.
With the win today, all Interisti could breathe a sigh of relief and happily celebrate Inter's birthday in peace. The victory today continued the unbeaten streak to five consecutive matches, (three wins and two draws), as well as bringing the Nerazzurri to within one point of 4th placed Fiorentina in league standings. European competition plays heavily on the minds of those clad in black and blue as Inter try to make an important run in the latter portion of the season.
We here at SB Nation Inter Offside would like to once again wish FC Internazionale Milano a Happy 106th Birthday! Tanti Auguri e Sempre Forza Inter!
Inter 1-0 Torino
First half: Palacio (30')
Second half: N/A