The thoughts occupying most Interisti minds' leading into Round 13 was not so much the notable length of the international break but of the change in ownership as Massimo Moratti completed the necessary paperwork to officially sell majority shares of Inter to new President, CEO, and Owner, Erick Thohir. Along with the massive changes at the Inter helm, the players would need to battle the tired legs of international matches, injuries and suspensions for a chance to end this round of fixtures to advance to a Champions League spot in Serie A. Would the players start this new era on a winning note?
Official Line-ups from the Inter site:
Inter XI (3-5-1-1): Handanovic, Campagnaro (Belfodil 40' second half), Rolando, Juan Jesus, Jonathan, Taider (Kovacic 11' second half), Cambiasso, Alvarez, Nagatomo (Pereira 24'), Guarin, Palacio
[Note: Samuel is injured and Ranocchia was suspended due to yellow card accumulation. Rolando slotted in the center while recently recovered Campagnaro played on the right in defense].
Unused substitutes: Carrizo, Castelazzi, Zanetti, Andreolli, Mudingayi, Wallace, Puscas, Donkor, Olsen.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri
Bologna XI (3-5-1-1): Curci, Morleo, Khrin, Antonsson, Sorensen, Garics (Crespo 23' second half), Natali, Perez (Pazienza 30' second half), Diamanti, Kone, Cristaldo (Bianchi 1' second half)
Unused substitutes: Agliardi, Stojanovic, Della Rocca, Moscardelli, Acquafresca, Laxalt, Christodoulopoulos, Radokovic, Cech.
Coach: Stefano Pioli
Officials: Banti, De Pinto, Passeri, Marzaloni, Calvarese, Cervellera.
The Nerazzurri started the first half kicking off with the 3-5-1-1 formation favored by Inter boss Walter Mazzarri. Handanovic was in goal with a three man backline of Campagnaro, Rolando, and Juan Jesus in front of him. Jonathan, Taider, Cambiasso, Alvarez, and Nagatomo made up the midfield with Guarin playing slightly in back of striker, Palacio to complete the Inter offense.
The away side players immediately came out of the gates with a blistering pace, implementing the attacking tactics formulated by Mazzarri from the start of the match. An organized, offensive minded Inter side was pushing forward with pressure as they dominated ball possession.
Taider got the start in midfield as this was the first occasion to confront his former side. Emotions ran high for the young Algerian international as he was booked in the second minute for a hard tackle on Bologna player, Morleo.
Argentine international Alvarez was rested midweek and began the match attacking the left side demonstrating his skill with an incredible move in the 9th minute as he faked a move to easily pass Perez in the Bologna midfield.
Although Inter were the dominant side in the first few minutes of the match, the Nerazzurri were caught off guard defensively as Bologna counterattacked in the 12th minute leading to a Kone goal for the home side.
An incredible save in the 14th minute by Bologna goalkeeper Curci kept Palacio off the score sheet and maintained their 1-0 lead.
Play went back and forth between both sides midway through the first half even though Inter continued to press in attack waiting for the equalizer. As the first half continued on, the Inter players were losing shape and organization. In the 24th minute, the tired legs of Japanese international Nagatomo may have caught up with him as he was subbed with a muscular injury as he exited the game and was replaced with Pereira. (Please note that the injury is purportedly a minor muscular ailment and not considered "grave" according to reports).
Inter dominated possession and peppered the Bologna goal with numerous attempts but to no avail as the first half ended with the Nerazzurri down one goal to the home side. Mazzarri would need to galvanize his men and utilize the halftime break for his side to regroup in both energy level and organization.
Photo credit: Getty Images
Bologna made a halftime substitution with a straight offensive sub for Cristaldo as Bianchi entered the pitch and started the half attacking the Inter goal.
Whereas the home side drew confidence in their one goal advantage in the opening minutes of the second half, Inter picked up where they left off in the first half with dominant ball possession and a number of attempts towards goal.
A bit of divine intervention by Inter defender, Jonathan, was witnessed by all. Bologna defender, Sorenson deflected Jonathan's strike towards goal into the back of the home side's net in the 6th minute of the second half to draw the score line level at one a piece. Where Inter had been unlucky with numerous goal attempts thus far, the slow roller fortunately made it to the back of the net much to most of the Interisti's delight.
The early yellow card awarded to Taider would see him exit the field as Mazzarri smartly subbed him off for playmaker Kovacic in the 11th minute of the second half. After a few minutes, Kovacic finally got a few touches on the ball as he passed it to Jonathan who found Palacio in the box and won a corner kick. Cambiasso tried to control the incoming ball with his thighs for a goal attempt but it unfortunately went wide of goal.
Inter's increasing pressure in attack left the home side further and further back in their final third to defend goal. Although the Nerazzurri offense pressed, the final touch for Inter could not convert any of the multiple opportunities for goal.
While the Inter players continued to press onwards in an offensive fashion the Bologna players were going down with cramps in the last 15 minutes of the match potentially reflecting a fitter Nerazzurri side. The Bologna players suffering cramps stayed on the pitch as referee Banti made no motion for the players to move off the pitch and allow play to continue. No other substitutions could be made by Bologna as Pioli had already made his final three substitutions.
In a last ditch effort by Mazzarri to score the game winner, the final Inter substitute was made for the newly recovered Campagnaro as Belfodil entered the pitch as a second striker. It was a clear statement from the Inter boss that he intended to look for a late game winner with his young striker and to validate his intentions to develop Inter into an offensive minded team. With this attacking substitution, the defensive formation changed to a four man backline with the two wingbacks, Jonathan and Pereira staying back to help bolster the Inter defense.
Juan had a rocket of a volley towards goal in the 47th minute of the second half only for it to shake the goal posts and ricochet out. Banti called the match with only two minutes of added time despite multiple Bologna players going down with cramps in the waning minutes of the match. The game would end in a draw, Bologna 1-1 Inter, with both sides taking a point from the match.
Inter remains in fourth place in league standings as they only drew a point against Bologna. They trail Juventus, Roma (with a game in hand as they play on Monday, November 25, 2013), and Napoli. Even though the Nerazzurri had a chance to creep up into the third spot in Serie A, they maintain their fourth position only trailing Napoli by two points.
Bologna 1-1 Inter
First half: Kone (12')
Second half: Jonathan (6')