With this young/new/vet squad every game is a chance to learn something new and this game was no exception. I know that I learned something new. But more on that later.
Today is also the last day of the summer transfer season and we have already had some polls about it and we have already talked a lot about it. I think that this can be a good time to wrap up that mess and then move on to the birth of what this sport is actually about... you know, that whole athletic contest thingy.
But that's not all. today we also learned about our group for the Europa league. Like everyone else, I would rather be in the Champions League right now, but after seeing these kids play, I think that I am happy that they get a chance to cut their teeth on the CL's ugly little cousin, have a goal for the season in making the Champions League and then work our way up to participating meaningfully in the CL. Hey, it's a dream I have.
First things first, Inter coming back from behind with 10 men to draw Vaslui. Italian newspaper call this performance Iron Inter, English newspapers call this a squeaker. I am somewhere in between but closer to Iron Inter. The tie was won, unanimously, without having to go to away goals or anything that usually denotes a close encounter. But there were moments here and there that tested my nerves.
First off, before the fun really started, Walter Samuel hit the post on a header. If that was the last I heard of Walter for the rest of the game, I would have been happy.
There were several blown assignments on the pass that led up to the penalty and I am the kind of person to talk about each one. Mistake one, there was no midfield pressure from Cambiasso on the pass into the box. It was his job, along with Zanetti and Nagatomo to pressure the midfield - that's why Strama was using two fullbacks in the midfield to begin with - defensive pressure starts with the midfield.
Walter was the cause for the man running free into the area - he was late stepping up plus he lost a runner into his zone. I said a day or two before this game that I believe that Walter signed his last contract with Inter and I still believe it now. Inter is going younger and more mobile - two things that he is not. I would consider him the rotation defender right now.
Lastly Lizard Boy came off his line late, which anyone who knows me and this blog knows how much that bothers me. They also know how much I love Castellazzi despite the fact that coming off his line is his kryptonite. He can't come off his line to save a drowning baby seal but other than that I think Inter are lucky to have him as a number two. And by the way, that was totally a red card and a penalty, no question. I hate when attackers tap the ball off to the side removing it and themselves from being a goal scoring opp but the rules are very clear on this matter.
Everything that happens after this Iove about what this team did. Strama managed Cassano correctly. Strama left Juan, who had a marvelous game, in and took out Walter who's game yesterday resembled a flaming bag of poo. All the young guys not named Belec played wonderfully. Belec played like a baby keeper. I am not going to eat his lunch on an aggressive mistake. He made a decision to come out, and he came out convincingly. Next time he'll get the ball or he'll stay back, but now he a better basis to make a decision should that situation come up again.
Players whose performance I loved: Zanetti, Guarin, Coutinho, Palacio, Juan, Nagatomo, Ranocchia in that order.
Players whose performances I would keep an eye on after this game for possible replacement: Walter, Cambiasso in that order. I also wasn't thrilled with the half hour or so that Cassano gave, but I won't pass judgement on so little time. I was happy that he didn't throw a fit at being replaced.
Special mention goes to Strama who I am loving the more of this team I see every week. Down to 10 men? Still attack, even if it's on the counter. Losing the game 1-2 and still through to the next round even if it's by a hair, the team still attacked. Losing the battle in the air because we are using small technical guys? Put in Ranocchia in the last 10 minutes BEFORE Vaslui start launching the ball into the middle of the area... right were Froggy was placed minutes before. Smart, proactive and confident. In other words, you know that conservative, traditional Italian coaching I was complaining about last season... this is what I was talking about. Nice to have a smart confident leader. Better than the alternative, I say.
There is no transfer news. Boy that was easy.
Okay, okay, not really.Johonna put together a great graphic on who came in and who left here. I don't have much to add other than Cesar and Maicon leaving which we all knew was going to happen months ago.
Cesar, of course went to QPR and Maicon went to Man City. Both of these players were ones that I was absolutely in love with in this iteration of the team, but I am not going to romanticize their leaving. Both are leaving because they won't take a pay cut and additionally Cesar won't stay in a back up role. And that's fine... for them. Maicon could have stayed and been the starter this season at RB. No one was going to push him out. Cesar could become Toldo - who did just what I suggest Cesar could have done - stay on for less money and be a backup.
Does this mean I love them any less for their contributions to the team? No. But I am not going to be upset anymore about their leaving. I certainly am not going to start watching EPL games now, that's for sure. They wanted to do what was best for themselves, and that's great. I have no problem with that. But since they decided it was time to go, then I have no choice but to agree. But at least Cesar had the regard for the fans to address them and thank them.
Contrasting nicely, if coincidentally, with Lucio this week who having gone 3 years without giving an interview in Milano, decided to rename himself Chatty Cathy. All I have to say this that I hope he gets over his injury and sees more time on the field... much, much more time on the field.
If anyone is interested here's a recap of the Primavera acquisitions this summer (source is Inter.it):
Giovanni Zaro - Defender from Pro Patria
David Smaug - Goalkeeper from Zamotuly (Really? Smaug!? From where?)
Gennaro Acampora - Midfielder from La Spezia
Leonardo Longo - Defender on loan from Prato
Tommasone Vincenzo - Midfielder on loan from Sesto Compano
Patrick Olsen - Midfielder from Brondby
None of these guys are coming here with any fanfare excepting Olsen from Brondby. Olsen is a midfielder on the Danish U17 team and is rumored to be grooming and acclimating with the Primavera for half a year before making the leap into the senior team. I will believe it when I see it. Of course I said the same thing about Juan Jesus and there he was yesterday, so maybe I'll be surprised.
Okay, now that Inter are through to the group stage of the Europa League here's the competition and the schedule. Please plan appropriately:
Thurs Sept 20 Inter - Rubin Kazan
Thurs Oct 4 Neftci (Azerbaijan) - Inter
Thurs Oct 25 Inter - Partizan Belgrade
Thurs Nov 8 Partizan Belgrade - Inter
Thurs Nov 22 Rubiin Kazan - Inter
Thurs Dec 6 Inter - Neftci
And that's all she wrote for me folks. See you when I see you.