What: Inter v Reggina
Where: San Siro, Milan
When: Sunday, March 22, 3pm local time (7am pacific, 10am eastern)
How to Watch: Live on Fox Soccer Channel or streaming in the usual places: MyP2P, Justin.tv, Rojadirecta, Ustream, and ATDHE.net
Tomorrow Inter enters the final stretch of the scudetto race. According to Mourinho, we need 23 more points to clinch the deal (his math is slightly different from mine, but what do I know?). I, on the other hand, do not want a repeat of last-year's stomach churning last day and would prefer to sew this thing up a couple days in advance. Without a doubt, we must win tomorrow - our scudetto dreams are dependent on taking full points against bottom-10 teams. Well, that and Juventus dont look like they are going to start losing any time soon. Reggina will not make it easy on us. They are at the bottom of the table staring relegation in the face. These next 10 games hold the key to their salvation and they will be clawing for all they are worth to stay up. If Inter go into this game with any expectations or sense of entitlement, we will most certainly get shown the error of our ways - and it will be painful.
Last year this fixture was on the eve of Inter's 100th birthday. Inter won the game 2-0 after a soft penalty converted by Ibra and a Nico-tastic header:
Orlandi has brought 18 players to Milan:
Portieri: Puggioni, Marino.
Difensori: Costa, Krajcik, Lanzaro, Santos, Valdez.
Centrocampisti: Adejo, Barillà, Barreto, Carmona, Cascione, Sestu.
Attaccanti: Brienza, Ceravolo, Cozza, Di Gennaro, Stuani.
While there is a Reggina blog here on the board, it does not appear to be all that active. I suppose I will have to scrape something together here.
The big news out the the Reggina camp for this game is that their star striker (and all around hunky dude) Bernardo Corradi is injured for the game. Corradi has 10 goals for the season and is Reggina's highest goalscorer. Instead, Brienza will probably play up front. As you all may recall, it was Brienza who scored the goal for Reggina's only away win (against Udinese). They are also without defender Cirillo due to suspension.
I know, I know, Corradi isn't even playing tomorrow, but c'mon, can you blame me? The man is jaw-droppingly gorgeous. I just could not restrain myself.
La Gazzetta thinks they will play a 3-5-1-1
Santos - Valdez - Lanzaro
Costa - Barillà - Carmona - Barreto - Sestu
Reggina want salvation and are coming to the San Siro with absolutely nothing to loose. If they can pull a point (or three) from Inter, it may mean they will achieve salvation and avoid the drop. They will gunning for us. Davide di Gennaro is especially pumped for the game, saying:
"We will get a result as we will play with courage like we did against AC Milan. It is a personal derby for me as I come from the AC Milan academy. If we play like we did against the Rossoneri at the San Siro we have a good chance of getting something from the game. It is true that bottom meets top on Sunday but I firmly believe we can get a result this weekend just like I am convinced we can survive. This season the number of points needed for survival has dropped notably and I can guarantee that we will fight to the end with all our strength.''
Mourinho is also calling for concentration during tomorrow's match:
"They deserve great respect. They are in difficulty and from now until the end of the championship they will be looking for points to stay up. They will come to San Siro tomorrow strongly motivated to do well, but I am extremely confident in my team and the reply we can give."
He has called up 20 players:
Goalkeepers: Toldo, Julio Cesar, Orlandoni.
Defenders: Maxwell, Maicon, Rivas, Santon.
Midfielders: Zanetti, Stankovic, Jimenez, Vieira, Cambiasso, Muntari, Mancini, Bolzoni.
Strikers: Ibrahimovic, Cruz, Crespo, Obinna, Balotelli.
Chivu, Cordoba, Burdisso, Materazzi, Figo and now Adriano are all injured. Samuel is suspended. Apparently there was a bit of a scare with Stankovic, but he has been cleared to play tomorrow. Given this injury list, the upcoming international break does not look so bad.
Training today got a little raucous. I wonder who shouted "Pig pile on Maicon!
To be fair, I could have sworn that was Adri under there but Inter says it is Douglas.
While it is clear who will play in defense (what choice to we have), the rest of the formation is a bit of a mystery.
I dont think we will see our typical 4-4-2, and in fact, Mourinho hinted that he may play a 4-3-3. Mou said:
"My only secret is the way I will decide to play. As for the rest, there are few doubts. Cambiasso will play alongside Rivas in defense with Maicon and Santon, and the contribution we lose in midfield through his absence there is compensated for in defense."
Then, when asked if he would play two players in the midfield in place of Cambiasso, Mourinho said:
"In midfield there will be three or four players, but it seems to me obvious to play with three men in that region."
As to who those three men will be, I just dont know. When Mourinho starts tinkering, you just never know what will come out. Is Vieira well enough to play? Will Jimi finally get to prove he can be more than a ghost that haunts the training pitch? And what of Bolzoni? Mou had nice things to say about him during the press conference today, but was coy over whether Francesco would make his Serie A debut.
Lets say Stankovic plays:
Maicon - Cambiasso - Rivas - Santon
Zanetti - Stankovic? - Muntari
Mancini? - Ibrahimovic - Balotelli?
Or something like that.
There is not a lot of history between Inter and Reggina. The two teams have only met 23 times and only 17 of those games were in the league. In those 17 games, we have only lost one, and that was at Reggina and nine years go.
Inter and Reggina have met eight times in Milan. Of those, Inter have won eight and drawn three. We hav scored 18 goals while only allowing two. Historically, this is not a winning fixture for Reggina. This should not lull Inter into a false sense of security, though. Reggina have managed to beat Atalanta and Udinese, and recently, have held both Roma and Milan to draws. They could do some damage.
This game will be a big test of Inter's supposed depth. We will play with a cobbled defense to say the least, and a less-than-optimal midfield. Plus, as I write this, Juve are ahead and Roma do not look like they will equalize any time soon. We need a result. If we let the lead slip away at this point, we have only ourselves to blame. We can win this game, without a doubt, just so long as we dont go into the game thinking the points are already in the bag.
That said, lets go kick some Reggina butt!
Ibra, please dont break Julio Cesar!
UPDATE: STRANGE TRANSFER RUMORS
As some of you may remember, I posted this article I found in the Ghanaian press about 19-year-old Ghanaian Hearts of Lion midfielder, Gladson Awako joining Inter. As there has been nothing in any other press or on either the main Inter web page or Inter's Academy page, I discounted it. Well, now there is a little blurb in the Italian goal.com (which is not nearly the rag that the English version is). In this version, Awako has not actually been signed by Inter, but is there on sort of a look-see. Still, all the quotes are the same so it is likely just a repackaging of the same original article.
So maybe this is actually real. I would suspect that if Inter are truly interested, it would be either for the academy (he is only 19) or he would find himself loaned out to a Serie B team somewhere next season. I highly doubt that he would start training with the first team straight away as the first article claims.
Curiouser and curiouser