First of all, I love love LOVE Julio Cesar. As far as I am concerned, he is man of the match. He made four saves, three of them were absolutely FANTASTIC. Mourinho agrees that JC had a great game, saying:
"The goalkeeper of a great team is really special because sometimes he doesn't touch the ball for most of the match and makes one save in 90 minutes, but in that save the whole match is decided and you understand how valuable he is."
Not that today was all good - the first half was desperately uninspired. Still, we came out swinging in the second which is all we needed to bring home three points. For those of you who missed the game, there are highlights after the jump (set to thumping techno; watch in HQ at youtube):
So, you will note that Cuchu was... well... instrumental in Bologna's goal. In the video, he appears to be getting out of the way of the ball (which prompted some snide comments during the game). Well, it turns out that Esteban has a perfectly good explanation:
"I did Bologna a favour, gifting them their equaliser. The ball bounced and it was at the height of my stomach. I preferred to concede a goal rather than risk a sending-off. I was convinced that we could win."
So rather that risking a handball and a possible sending off, he got out of the way. Besides, if the ball had struck his hand and Cuchu was sent off, they would have gotten a penalty anyway. So there, it was not such a strange decision after all.
Besides, he scored a goal. His first Serie A goal of the season (he also got a goal in the Coppa Italia match against Genoa).
Balotelli got some good pitch time today. He scored a goal, he didn't get booked, and got to try out a dorky (but endearing) celebration with his good buddy Santon. I hope this spells the return of Balotelli to the general squad rotation.
Rivas wasn't terrible. This is only the second game he has started and he actually did an ok job. Strangely, the other game he started was our home tie against Bologna. Mou must think he has some special Bologna mojo or something. Anyway, he made at least one pivotal save today, was not sent off, and made no terrible blunders. That should rate a 6 I think.
In terms of general goodness, we had some nice passing plays and some good possession play in the midfield today. We defended well from set pieces - something Mou had been particularly working on last week. At the end of the game, Bologna had something like 6 corners in a row and we dealt with them all.
Ok, Now the Bad
First, Samuel injured his calf during warm up before the game. Mourinho said today that he is "unlikely to make it for the game on Tuesday."
That is a major bummer. Hopefully Chivu will be ready for Tuesday. If not.... well, I dont want to think about that.
Ibra was also taking some pretty hard knocks today, and, at one point, had to be taken off the pitch to receive treatment on his knee. Cambiasso had a close call early in the game, and Cordoba had a knock to the head. Right now, though, it looks like only Samuel is in doubt for the big game.
Muntari just does not do well as a trequartista. Mou admitted as much in the post match interview, but apparently having Muntari and Stankovic split the match was key his cunning plan for the match.
I also think that Adriano did not have the best match. Well, at least he didn't play today as well as he did against Milan. But, just like Muntari, he wasn't tragic, just a bit off. He particularly had some difficulty in completing passes.
And Santon, while he was definitely adequate, there was that one huge error at about the 40th minute. If not for the wonders of Julio Cesar, DiVaio would have had the opener. But hey, he got a shot on goal so it wasn't all bad.
Ok, so the big game is Tuesday. I am teaming up with Wayne, one of the writers on the Manchester United board, for the next blog. We are looking for a little criss-cross action. Besides, what do I know about the EPL? (nothing!). In the words of Javier Zanetti: "It will be very exciting"
Well, the Primavera squad lost to Sampdoria 2-1 in the Viareggio tournament. The final will be Sampdoria v Juventus.
Good job getting to the semi-finals, boys, and better luck next year.
Also, if you didn't see it, Goal.com has a nice translation of a Corriere dello Sport interview with ex Inter coach Luigi Simoni where he sings Zanetti's praises. Good stuff indeed!
Allora Ragazzi, oggi, più importante, abbiamo vinto. Domani ci sarà guardare il resto cerco di catturare noi.
I will leave you all with a little Gangsta Mario...
and an old friend. I especially like that the pitch is reflected in his glasses. That's art, that is!