What: Inter v Partizan Belgrade, Europa League Group H Smackdown
Where: Stadio Giuseppe Meazza, San Siro
When: Thursday, October 25, 7pm local time (10am pacific, 1pm eastern)
How to Watch: Live on Fox Soccer Plus or pay-per-view on Fox Soccer 2 Go. For non US channels, check here. Or, you can find a stream (try here)
Liveblog: Maybe. It depends on the SO. We carpool to work and if I can convince him to go in a little late, then we totally will. If not... :(
As I said, the last time Inter and Partizan met in the UEFA League, they were a speed-bump on Inter's way to Europa Cup glory. Looking back even farther, Inter also beat Partizan twice on their way to winning the Champions League in 1964.
Oh, and instead of highlights for our last home game against Belgrade, I have the whole damn game! Thank you youtube.
I know, it is in... well, I guess is is Yugoslavian maybe? but I thought it was pretty skippy so I posted it up anyway. This is a bit before my time with the club, but I though some of you might enjoy a walk down memory lane.
Partizan are top of the Serbian SuperLiga* with 24 points (8 wins, 1 loss). On top of that, they have the best attacking and defensive records (28 goals for, 6 allowed). Oh, and did I mention? They play in black and white stripes. Ugh.
*You can tell this league was formed in the early 2000s with a name that is two words scrunched together and a capitalization in the middle. OldSchool.
FUN FACT: Sladjan Šćepović, who played both legs of our 1990 UEFA Cup games for Partizan is the father of two of the club's current strikers, Stefan and Marko Šćepović.
Partizan has had no trouble in their home league, but has not really been setting the Europa League on fire. They lost 2-0 against Rubin Kazan last gameday and drew 0-0 against Neftchi. Their coach, Vladimir Vermezovic, acknowledges they dont have the best European record but has urged his team to play like they mean it tomorrow. He said:
"Our young team has come to Milan to play a great game and gain experience for the future. We know what awaits us but sometimes the power and authority of youth can surprise."
They played a defensive game against Rubin, putting everyone behind the ball and waiting to come forward on a break. Unfortunately for them, their defense couldn't hold and Rubin won 2-0. The stats, though, show Partizan at least tried to attack a bit as they had four corners and nine shots on goal.
And just because Partizan hasn't scored any goals yet in the group stage of the EL doesn't mean they are toothless. They are doing great in Serbia. Their big goalscorers are Šćepović (6) and Mitrović (3) up front, Marković (3) in the midfield, and Ivanov (3) in defense. Heck, even their starting keeper, Stojković, has a goal. So there is potential.
|Guarin, rested and ready. via www.inter.it|
Strama has called up 21 players for the game
Keepers: Handanovic, Belec, Cincilla;
Defenders: Zanetti, Silvestre, Ranocchia, Samuel, Juan Jesus, Jonathan, Bianchetti, Nagatomo;
Midfielders: Guarin, Mudingayi, Cambiasso, Gargano, Pereira;
Forwards: Coutinho, Palacio, Milito, Livaja, Cassano.
Sneijder is back from LA but not ready to get back on the pitch, while Obi had some sort of twinge so is being left off as a precaution. Everyone else should be good to go. Strama made it quite clear that if they were called up, they could see the pitch, saying:
"I've said it before and I've shown it in my team selection, there's no one in this squad who I wouldn't consider picking, no one who's not seeing much first-team action."
Which, given our hectic playing schedule, is a good thing. Well, almost. I would rather Jonathan not play for us... like ever... but besides that, depth is good. La Gazzetta dello Sport has taken Strama to mean that Silvestre will start instead of Rano tomorrow, as will Coutinho and Livaja. I guess we will have to see.
|ARRGGHHH! His CURLS! His beautiful curls! Someone has shorn Coutinho! via www.inter.it|
On another note, there is a bit of fear that the Partizan Ultras will make trouble tomorrow in the stadium and the surrounding city. They have the reputation of being the most violent supporters group in Europe and are supposedly twinned with AC Milan groups. So they may extra not like Inter. This is the first time many of these people have been allowed to travel to Italy since October 2010 and the Italy-Serbia match which was canceled due to fan violence. From what I have read, many of the very worst offenders were not allowed across the border but they account for just a handful of people. Hundreds are expected to come to the match and officials think there is a high probability that there will be some sort of trouble during the match. In case you missed it, Serbian fans racially abused English players in an U21 match last week so they are already in fine asshole form.
My twitter feed tells me that they have already stopped serving alcohol in the bars around the stadium (I assume that just means spirits, not beer and wine) and none will be allowed on the grounds during the game. In my experience, though, you can pretty much bring whatever you want into a game. Now, I suppose security may actually search these known hooligans but they have never looked twice at me. I am constantly amazed at the number of supposedly banned items that make in into the grounds. Flares, for instance, are not specifically forbidden but I will bet you cash money that they make an appearance. In the end, I just hope these fucktard "hooligan" idiots keep it in their pants for the game so we can actually play and no one gets hurt. If we win, especially something towards the crush side of the spectrum, it could really get ugly.
So, anyone going, stay safe... even on the streets around the stadium... and maybe this isn't the best one to take your kids to. And they wonder why no one goes to the stadium anymore in Italy. Yikes.
To wrap up, I would like to have a good, clean game, with no injuries (on or off the pitch) and a minimum of stoppages due to flare smoke. It would be great to win. We are top of the group now and it if we can stay there, all the better. With Italian teams doing less than spectacularly in the Champions League, a good showing by the peninsula in the EL is just what we need to boost Italy's co-efficient woes (yes, this competition counts as well). Partizan may be top of the heap in Serbia, but Europe seems to be a whole other beast for them. We are rested and, according to the press, meticulously prepared, so lets go out there and get us some Europa League Glory! 1990 Style!
To remind us of the curly loveliness that was Coutinho