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Inter 2 - Neftci 2

Playing to a better result than against Rubin, the Inter Babies stand stronger at home against Neftci in every sense including the score 2-2


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Personally, I was happy to see so many youngsters get a chance to play so much. The other side of that coin is that almost all of the regulars got rest for the very important game this weekend. As with the game against Rubin, Strama put in a veteran defense to help the others – the difference being that this time I worked a lot better. I can only hope that the game off will help the team more than it did last time, too.

There isn’t a whole lot to discuss about this game other than who looked good and who didn’t. By and large this was one of the few chances before the winter transfer window for these young guys to impress the brass and to change impressions.


A. I would say that Livaja confirmed a couple of things for me:

One, he can probably be in the mix as a forward one this team as long as he isn’t THE forward. He’s better moving and dishing than he is ruthlessly putting a team to the sword – as evidenced by the corner kick in which he was left alone a meter in front of the net and passed the ball right to the guy watching the far post… while Livaja was standing just inside the near post. He didn’t hammer it in the net and he didn’t put the exclamation mark on what would have been a pretty impressive hat-trick. He tried to finesse a tap in and it went all kinds of wrong for him. I am not going to roast the kid for this, mostly because replay shows that it just might have gone in anyway, but also because he’ll learn in the future that he won’t get these kinds of opportunities again and if he’s going to be any good he’ll rectify the situation.

Two: That unless he gets his head fixed, he’s going to be a problem down the road. Last time he had this opportunity, against Rubin, he blew it by halftime by playing like a dweeb. He did a much better job as a forward but picked up a stupid caution for handling. It was really dumb.

B. Coutinho really disappointed here. For a guy who is trying really hard to make people believe that he should be getting more playing time with the first team, he really blew a chance to make people believe that he’s better than the Neftci’s of the world. And this isn’t a dig at Neftci, but I don’t think it’s a secret that Inter has higher aspirations. If Coutinho wants to be a part of that then he’s going to have to do better than what he did in that game.

You can tell me that the game didn’t matter and that he probably didn’t care too much how he played because of that, and I wouldn’t contradict you. But at some point he’s going to have to show something or run out of excuses for not showing anything. He ran hard last weekend, and I give him credit for that, but he’s going to have to create something or score something and if he doesn’t do it against Neftci, then who does he do it against?

C. Garritano’s day, for me, can best be summed up like this: I didn’t know he was on the field until I looked at the lineups after the game. The stats say that he took a wayward shot, so I’ll dutifully report it here. Garritano was on the squad against Rubin and I don’t recall him doing too much wrong – or right for that matter. I remember Garritano impressing me mildly during the summer friendlies and also reading about his goals for the Primavera. He’s 18 years old and obviously out of his depth at this stage, but I’ll consider him as a prospect since he was thought highly enough to be given a place here.

D. Romano played the "far" right "wing" of the hybrid 433/4231 and the ambiguousness of the formation was clearly exemplified in Romano’s performance. The quotes are there because he didn’t play "far", in fact he pinched in quite a bit, and he didn’t play the "wing" as much as he ended up playing fullback behind Jonathan who overlapped him every play up the field. Romano is an interesting player in that he seems to be looking for a position now that his Primavera time is over. He was a midfielder in the youth team, both wide and middle, and he seems to be trying to slot in at one of those positions now but he’s having some problems doing so. He doesn’t look athletic enough to me to be a wide player who gets forward. He also doesn’t seem to have either the ball handling skill – at this stage, remember he’s very young – to play in the middle as a Motta. He looks more to me – again, right now – like a defender/fullback or defensive midfielder in training. It wouldn’t shock me to see him pushed backwards in the formation as he gets older… it could just be that he’s young and I don’t see him very much. He looked just like Faraoni to me in that game. Just like him. It looked to me that he made a lot of late challenges like he either mistimed his tackles or was too slow to be effective.


Passa and Benassi are considered to be the big winners in this game of the young guys. They both seemed to be able to hold their own positionally against the best player of Neftci, who was the attacking midfielder that fell down a lot and looked like he was crying. They were both able to pass through the midfield and make themselves available to the defenders both as targets and defensive help. In short, they did their job diligently and as professionals. As a consequence I have to say that it did not look like two sub 20 year olds were in charge of the middle of the field for Inter.


Unlike the rest of the field, the defense was stocked with veteran players.

Jonathan continued to prove that he is of insufficient quality to continue wearing that shirt. Nagatomo made such a difference when he stepped on the field that by comparison, Jonathan looked like he was a youth player.

Pereira is getting a lot of flak today for his performance yesterday. I didn’t think that he was the worst guy out there, and given the weird play schedule he’s gotten since being here I really don’t expect him to be settled in until January, frankly. But all I will say is that it was his cross that found Livaja’s feet at far post for the first goal after it looked like Coutinho tried to make a play on it with his head and flubbed it. The first Neftci goal just looked like a good shot and the second goal took a lucky ricochet off of Belec’s hands right to Canales’ head. I haven’t seen the whole play from start to finish or from a wide enough angle so I can’t say if Pereira held Canales onsides, I do know that Pereira followed his man into the area which is something of a chronic problem for our players – so I won’t eat his lunch for that. I just didn’t think that he was so bad as he’s getting press for.

Samuel and Cambiasso were fine in the backline doing their thing as well as we expect from them. As with the game against Rubin, when one of the starting vet defenders gets subbed off, the other team scores almost immediately. In this case, it took about 7 minutes. Does this say something about the quality, or lack thereof, of defenders in the youth squad or does this say something about how hard it is playing defense at this level? Inter have several long term loans/co-owns out in other teams that are reportedly soon to be rejoining the team – although not, I think, for January. This is actually a position that I don’t see us able to fill through the ranks, although Mbaye intrigues me – mostly because there was such a scramble to get him to renew just recently.

Moving on

This last part of the season before the break will be pretty crucial. Napoli and Lazio are direct competitors for Inter’s ambitions and a win or stalemate against both would be helpful both in the table and also in forging a stress free environment. A loss for both would bring out the Crisis headlines… which by the way wouldn’t be for the first time this season, if you can believe it. That’s right folks, Inter are in the midst of reorganizing and rebuilding yet are higher in the table than anyone thought possible this season so far – certainly higher in the table than last season’s "championship caliber team" - yet have been in crisis already this season. Makes sense, doesn’t it?

I know that there is likely to be a big change likely with the Sneijder situation, but I am finding it hard for me to care enough to write a whole lot about it. Everyone who makes more than a certain amount has been asked to take a pay cut. Those who said yes to the cut have stayed. Those who don’t agree to the cut have been shipped out. The only difference I can see is that Sneijder’s "discussion" with management has happened after the season started.

If Sneijder doesn’t want to take a pay cut, then he’ll be shipped out and the club may very well not get full market value for him – although to be completely honest, I don’t know what his value is. Inter supposedly bought him for he cut rate price of €15-ish million from Real, and if my feet were held to the fire to suggest what Inter might receive for a Sneijder on the open market I would probably guess that the team will get more than that. Frankly, considering his health issues and his rather inflexible tactical needs I know I wouldn’t offer too much more than that. Would his price have been more this past summer? I didn’t think so because Inter, including Sneijder, weren’t very good for the last 2 seasons and now that the team’s standing as a Champions League contender is better, and that his contract still has 2 years left on it, that a decent price can still be gotten. Plus, I have to think that there will be more than one team interested.

But that’s not really the point. The point is that the team lacks revenue that can count against the FFP and the wage bill was too high when the team was getting CL money let alone now in these reduced circumstances. Some might say that there is a lack of class or discretion to the operation but I think that’s the point. If he doesn’t take the reduced contract then he has to go. There can’t be any doubt about it to the player that there is no room to negotiate, there needs to be a clear signal to potential suitors that the player is available, there has to be a message to the other players at the club what the position of the club is and there has to be a message to the supporters that, in this case, it’s Sneijder’s choice to leave – not he club’s. It’s a shame that it has to be done this way, and I personally don’t like this sort of laundry getting aired in public but that’s the way it goes sometimes. And that’s about all I have to say about it – the sooner it’s resolved, the better – but I don’t really have a care which way it goes.

Next up in the Europa League the talent level of the teams starts to rise pretty darn quick as the fall out from the Champions League invades. Frankly, this thing is far too long – as I am sure we all know by now. Inter’s Coppa game is up coming – it’s the larger Verona team, right? – to add to the congestion. Didn’t I hear something about an 18 team League at some point? Can it get here any faster?