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Week 25- Who Needs Midfielders?

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Inter return to Serie A this weekend, heading down to an empty stadium in Cesena for a rematch with Catania. Not sure why Cesena was chosen, as I would have assumed it would have been somewhere in the south. Anyway, the Nerazzurri will be without the injured Esteban Cambiasso, Patrick Viera, and Alvaro Recoba (and his fresh new haircut). To make matters worse, Olivier Dacourt was booked against Cagliari and will miss this match. Because of the alarming shortage of midfielders, Mancini has called up Primavera players Daniel Maa Boumsong, and Atilla Filkor. Filkor appeared for Inter in both legs of the Coppa Italia tie with Messina. I’m a little curious as to why these two were called up instead of Ibrahim Maaroufi (as it had looked like he was the first in line), but given the fact the none of them are going to sniff the pitch anyway I’m not curious enough to try to find out.

La Gazzetta says Inter will use this lineup :
Julio Cesar; Maicon, Cordoba, Materazzi, Maxwell; Figo, Stankovic, Zanetti, Solari; Cruz, Ibrahimovic

About what you’d expect. At first glance, I was surprised to see Figo in there after he played heavy minutes on Wednesday, but I couldn’t come up with anything better (i.e. not involving Mariano Gonzalez). Nice to see Santi Solari get a run out as he's been good when called upon, but there's just no room for him.

Catania’s lineup of people you’ve probably never heard of:
Pantanelli; Lucenti, Sottil, Stovini, Vargas; Baiocco, Edusei, Caserta; Colucci, Spinesi, Mascara

Sure, whatever… Expect to see Giorgio Corona off the bench in the second half as they will (hopefully) be looking for goals.

Early in the season, Catania were one of the most fun teams to watch in Serie A. They were the "token team that got promoted and couldn’t afford to buy two or three of the retreads that always seem to end up on relegation zone sides" so they stuck with what got them to the top flight. Playing very wide open, they reminded me a lot of Chievo in 2001-02. Their style of play, though, is one of the reasons I believed they were the perfect matchup for Inter when they met in October. I had thought we would dispatch of them 4 or 5-0, but Catania held strong and Inter had to grind out a 2-1 win. A magnificent goal from Mascara was probably the best scored against Inter all year and Catania is one of three Serie A sides to actually hold a lead over the Nerazzurri. (Granted, Roma exposed them 7-0 a few weeks later).

Catania come into this match winless in their last five matches, with away draws at Messina and Atalanta and home losses to Fiorentina, Cagliari, and in that other game that we won’t mention. I really want to try to stay away from the off the pitch stuff as it has been covered thoroughly and the focus should be on football, but with no home games the rest of the way Catania can probably forget any dreams they had of Europe. They should survive, however, as they sit a healthy 14 points (and ten teams) clear of the relegation zone.

This would have been Inter’s first Serie A trip to Catania (they were 4-1 winners in Catania in the 1988 Coppa) since the 1983-84 season when they walked out of Sicily with a scoreless draw. Inter last won the fixture in 1970-71, 1-0. Catania’s last win came in 1965-66 (with Inter on their way to a tenth scudetto), by the same scoreline.

No matchups to watch this week, as the only one worth noting is the Nerazzurri with themselves after the midweek disappointment. I say they bounce back, are good but not great and go home with a 2-0 win.

CATANIA – INTER
Time: 15:00 local (9:00 a.m. EST)
North American TV: Fox Soccer Channel, Fox Sports World Canada