- After review of the video, which is on the main page, its clear that Valencia did in fact start the disgraceful brawl. Now, what led up to the initial argument is unclear at the moment but nothing excuses a substitute for running onto the pitch, throwing a punch, and then scurring away while laughing. I'm not ashamed of the behavior of our players one bit for their reaction to this punch/taunt. With emotions running as high as they were, I nearly came to blows with my waiter at about the same moment. UEFA will dish out punishments on March 22, but I can't see anything severe for the club. Possibly a player or two will be forced to miss the first game of next year's group stage.
- Burdisso suffered a broken nose in the incident and I'm assuming he'll be out for the derby. When he comes back, he hopefully has one of those Rip Hamilton/ Matteo Brighi faceshields. I feel bad for him that he'll miss the encounter with Milan, but part of me also shudders to think about where Mancini might possibly have used him next. I wrote in the posts section a few days back that I thought we'd see more of Burdisso at left back because Mancini would want to get him on the field somewhere. Not in my wildest dreams did I think that he would be used in the midfield in the biggest game of the year. I thought it turned out to be a pretty bad idea last week against Udinese (coincidentally the one league game in the last 19 we've failed to win), and was a strange decision for this fixture. Was Mancini that worried we would concede? And was he also that worried that if we did, we wouldn't be able to score two goals?
- I'll pile onto Roberto a little more by saying that during yesterday's game, I couldn't help but think about the lineup he fielded away to Bayern with first place in the group (and home field advantage in the second leg) still up for grabs. Resting guys, apparently for the Christmas break, Mancio punctuated the lineup with the ultimate sign that he's not taking the game seriously- Mariano Gonzalez in attack. Having the second leg at home can't be underestimated and it struck me as odd that Inter didn't play for it when presented with the opportunity.
- I have no big problems with the officiating during this tie. We had two huge calls go against us, though. The first, Dacourt's "foul" prior to Villa's free kick in the first leg, swung the tie in favor of Valencia. The second non-call, yesterday's handball, could have swung it back in our favor. They were both pretty clear on the replay, however in real time I wasn't too sure on either of them so I don't think they were egregious or anything. Sometimes you get those breaks and sometimes you don't.
- I've been going back and forth in my head over this next issue but I'll throw it out there for you to think about since I'm not sure I have the answer or even the right question. Alex alluded to it in his post but it can be taken further. Part of me believes that this team was exposed as one that simply was not good enough to win the Champions League. At some point on their road to the title, every European champion is faced with the task of breaking down an opponent that is clinging to a result. Inter lacked the imagination and creativity to do that yesterday.
There are three different answers here and I can't decide which one it is. There's the possibility that we were simply without Adriano, and that he would have made a difference. The way the game unfolded did not suit Crespo at all, as Valencia kept him pretty much under wraps in the area and he looks like a fish out of water when he strays too far. A second option is that this deficiency was tactical yesterday. For an hour or so, we struggled to create anything in the final third of the field while Figo, Solari, and Recoba sat on the bench and Burdisso and Dacourt played in the midfield. It is also possible that none of these players were the answer and that this team as currently constructed does not have the type of players that could have created good opportunities. It's very difficult to ask Ibra to come up top and really be the creative force as he inevitably leaves his Crespo, or whoever, all alone near the goal. This team still needs one more link. In Serie A, its been irrelevant because we eat up so much possession in midfield that we keep coming and coming and eventually overpower the opponent. After watching all eight of our CL games this season (I'll do a full competition recap soon), I'm less convinced that this team had a bad day at the office as opposed to being a victim of the stylistic difference between domestic and European football.