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Twas The Night Before...

Hopefully the hiatus is over here at the Inter blog, as between computer problems and other things going on in my life I was both unable to post and unaware of what was going on anyway. Needless to say that Inter, on Tuesday, face what is by far the biggest game of the season and the most important match the club as seen in many years.

First, though, a few notes about Saturday’s win at Livorno. I have a golden rule when it comes to supporting Inter: Never criticize an away win. Never. Ever. So while I didn’t think that the team looked as good as some in the press seem to think, I am always impressed when a group falls behind on the road and is able to fight back. I think one journalist who posed a question to Moratti deemed the performance "gritty" and I agree. Granted, I was doing some work while I watched the match so its possible that we were better than that and I just wasn’t paying close enough attention.

- Better than anything, though, right now is Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Ibra has, in my eyes, officially entered that realm where I always expect something spectacular. He even converted a direct free kick, showing me up. I am also thoroughly convinced that he has personally crafted every lucky bounce he gets. The guy is just that good. One of the interesting subplots of the match at Valencia is that its fundamental to any Golden Ball challenge by the Swede. While South American-born players probably have the inside track due to the exposure the Copa America will provide, if we continue through Europe , Ibra needs to be mentioned.

-La Gazzetta printed this lineup in today’s edition:

(4-3-2-1)
Julio Cesar; Maicon, Cordoba, Materazzi, Maxwell; Zanetti, Dacourt, Stankovic; Figo, Ibrahimovic; Crespo

- Mancini stated in the press conference that Dacourt and Stankovic, after some injury worries at the weekend, are ready to go. Adriano? Not so much.

- With both of them a little slowed, however, this match will most likely come down to whether our two playmakers can make the most of what chances they can get. This game, if we are able to pull it out, will most likely provide one of Figo’s last primetime moments or one of Ibrahimovic’s first. While Ibra is no stranger to high profile football, I think that, at the club level, this is a different ball game for him. For the first time, he can establish that he’s the face of one of the top teams in Europe rather than "that guy everyone hates because he pushed Del Piero to the bench."

Inter has not really had a symbol since Ronaldo left. While Javier Zanetti obviously IS the club at this point, beloved by both his fans and his teammates alike, you never get the feeling that the entire club feeds off him. It seems like that is beginning to happen with Ibra. His confidence (arrogance) seems to be beginning to run through the roster. During the buildup to this game, I’m becoming more and more convinced that when these players, and management, say they are going to win they actually believe it. This club is developing Ibra’s swagger.

- The funny thing about sports, though, is that the game always writes the story. A win tomorrow and the Nerazzurri are applauded for their confidence, fail to qualify and their ripped for their complacency…

-I’ll be back with more about Inter’s recent trips to the Mestalla and buildup to this match…