The dichotomy that is Inter concluded its 9th league game this past Saturday with an indifferent win. The dichotomy of course is that Inter can dominate so easily on Saturday and Sunday, but have such troubles on Tuesday and Wednesdays. Is it mental? Is it the competition? Is it familiarity? Is there some lack of ability by the coach? Do we need better/different players? Do I care, really?
Well, each of us can answer those questions on our own. At the moment I will just answer the question, "What the hell happened on Saturday?"
Well, not a lot. The game itself was a snoozer until the last 15 minutes or so when Julio Cesar and the ref made things interesting. Julio left his line to contest a 50-50 ball and wiffed. Julio, the FSC announcer and I all thought that Julio also missed the player. The ref begged to differ. I don’t think that it was a bad call per se, the ref was in a no win political position. If he lets it go, the media – Berlusconi owned and all - and the supporters of Juve and Milan were going to rise up and protest. Actually, the Roma supporters would too, but who cares about them, really.
Anyhoo, there were still two other goals scored that were not handed to anyone from a ref. Yep, those would be the goals that Inter scored. This brings me to my Inter player of the game:
Highlights after the break
Stats Home team first
Shots (on Goal) 9(4) 13(6)
Fouls 16 22
Corner Kicks 6 3
Offsides 4 1
Time of Possession 62% 38%
Yellow Cards 2 3
Zanetti 139 continuous games played
Zanetti 476 appearances ties Facchetti for 2nd in team history
I think that last stat is pretty significant. We are one of the best, if not the best, attended football teams in Serie A. Consider that attendance is up from last season as well. Not only is gate revenue up, but so is sponsorship. Not too long ago Nike and Inter unveiled a 10 year deal starting in 2010 that will net Inter over 12 million Euros a season. No other club has such a sponsorship deal with Nike. Some of you may also have noticed the Herblife signs in the stadium this past weekend. That is also a new sponsor this season. Add all this to what could be a new stadium deal and Inter are looking very financially stable for the new UEFA rules governing clubs’ finances.
Julio Cesar: It had to happen, I guess. The best goalkeeper in the world for my money had an off day and conceded an iffy penalty. Until then, he had a clean sheet despite a good chance here and there. 6.0
Maicon: Maicon is developing a nasty habit of trying to dribble up to 3 guys at a time, losing the ball and then stopping or dogging it back on D. I thought that he had better games. 6.5
Lucio: Here’s my thing. He had an iffy deflection off of his foot. If he doesn’t make that deflection of the ball, then it’s a goal for Catania, so kudos on the interception. However, he’s going to make my hair turn white. 6.5
Cordoba: In an earlier post I have said that Inter are lucky to have the depth at CB to be able to put him back there. He had a nice game. 7.0
Chivu: I am losing confidence in Chivu in yet another barely average game performance. 6.5
Zanetti: There is a temptation to grade the last 3 years of continuous play here. But for the game, he was solid, selfless and commanding. He laid a hell of a tackle right before the half that I thought was a message that he didn’t like the sleep walking. 7.0
Vieira: Wasn’t this the guy that was complaining about playing time? He did okay, which at his age and physical ability probably says more about Catania then it does him. By the way, I think that he’s in the best shape he’s been in for years. I still don’t like him. PS. he blew a 24 karat gold chance at a goal... argh. 6.5
Muntari: If there were only 3 players running and making an effort on Saturday, then Muntari is definitely one of them. Here’s a guy who was booed a month ago, and he played his heart out, even when most looked like they wanted to go home. I really like his attitude and the way he scored only shows why that attitude was important. He was pressing forward, pressuring Catania and trying to feed Eto’o. Good Karma could only come of all that. 7.5
Sneijder: I gave this guy a hard time, but he has showed a lot of heart. I said in the comments that he should have been subbed off at halftime to rest. I understand why he was kept on, though, he was one of the few who didn’t show up to get paid and nothing else. 8.0
Balotelli: Mario played a decent game, but I didn’t think that he played great. He might be one of the few attacking players in Italian football who can keep possession in the attack and wait for help or get the foul. He reminds me a lot of a young – more skillful – Toni. 6.5
Eto’o: Another one of the few who worked hard all game. Even on his gimpy foot he looked like he wanted to score more than anything. I like the attitude. I would have liked him to score too. 7.0
Krhin: He was robbed on the foul called against him. That was a hell of an effort. The few times I have seen him play he reminds me of an energizer bunny type. A midfield dynamo, if you will. He always seems to make a cunning pass in there too. He intrigues the hell out of me. There are rumors surrounding his departure. I am still laughing at those. He won’t go anywhere if we don’t want him to. 7.0
Stankovic: We will see more of him since Sneijder is out. I hope he got all the rest he needed… He was average on Saturday though. 6.5
Materazzi: Marco was put in just to get some game time in. I don’t think that Mourinho thought that Marco was going to seal the victory. I am extremely nervous that Mourinho is trying to get Marco up to game shape to use in a Champions League game. Not a good thought. 6.5
This looked very much like a tired team that played midweek and wasn’t interested in going up against Catania. The first half was wonderful. It wasn’t a sharp exhibition, but it was dominating. The second half was another story. It was sloppy and really just a bore. It’s not a big deal. You can’t expect a team that played a tough, good team and left the field thinking that they deserved more and were eager to prove themselves to get psyched for Catania. I can’t even get myself up to write about it…
However, with Sneijder, et al. injured and a high flying, surprising Palermo coming to town, I think that we are in a boat on a certain creek without propulsion. Palermo looks, as always, unpredictable. The difference is that the highs this season are very high. I don’t know which Palermo is coming to town, but I am worried about which Inter is gong to show up. We might need to play the shell game and go for points in this one.