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Chelsea vs Inter Review


As in the past I will spend some time to parse the interview that Mazzarri gave post match to see if we can glean any information on what is going on in the melon of the head poobah. His words come from the interview on

Walter Mazzarri expressed his satisfaction with his team's performance as he spoke exclusively to Inter Channel after the Nerazzurri slipped to defeat against Chelsea in their opening Guinness International Champions Cup fixture.

"I'm trying to get the team playing a certain way and unlike against Hamburg we managed to take the game to our opponents tonight. We didn't get the rub of the green and we also needed to be more determined in closing down the spaces when they hit us on the counter. But considering the quality of the opposition we were up against I'm happy anyway as the result has no bearing on anything at this stage of the season. I never like losing on principle but it's still acceptable at the moment."

The coach continued his analysis in the post-match press conference.

"I'm very happy with the way my team played. We started strongly but weren't able to open the scoring with that piece of skill from Guarin. Then we got punished on the first counter-attack. The lads held their shape well and despite the result I'm satisfied with the performance. We held our own in the second half too while it was 11 v 11, and then even with all the substitutions we managed to avoid conceding a third.

And I agree with everything the man says here. Playing against Hamburg, against a team that was basically done with its market and its preparation, Inter survived. Against Chelsea - an undoubtedly more talented team and one that Chelsea TV claimed is also further in its preparation for the season - Inter played very well in the first half. There were 2 credible chances from Guarin and Palacio. I thought that by and large Inter were able to hold their own in possession.

Closing down, or lack thereof, against Chelsea’s first counter was fatal and the difference in the game. Their midfield was able to screen out most of our attacks. Our midfield did not reciprocate. I am hoping that this is some kind of code. Closing down the counter in this case is Cambiasso who’s best effort at stopping the counter meant that he waved the back of his leg at Moses as he was beaten like an egg in my skillet.

"What changed when we were reduced to 10 men? We switched to a 4-4-1 formation so that we could cover the whole pitch and in doing so we managed to plug the gaps. I think it went very well, although of course it's difficult to score when you're a man down. We'd also planned to take off five or six players to give others some playing time. So I saw positives even when we were playing with a man less. I was impressed by Olsen, for example."

The formation shift and the red card probably meant that fewer young guys got a chance to play as he might have planned before the game started – I’m going to guess the situation hadn’t come up in training too much as yet. Or he might have decided that Inter were going to go for fitness and leave some players on the field on to work conditioning, it’s not really clear here how much substitution was affected by the circumstance. Either way, it’s not like they couldn’t use the work out.

While he’s showing some pride in his guys keeping the score static after going down, it really didn’t look like Chelsea were interested in going full out after the red card. I have read that a lot of Mourinho’s changes put players who hadn’t played a lot this preseason, if that’s true than I have to think that was also a factor.

Having said all that, Inter put on guys like 19 year old Olsen and 17 year old Capello and I agree with Mazzarri that Olsen looked good – I said as much last night. Olsen has looked good whenever he has come on this preseason. He looked very good when he came on for Cambiasso and played the director. He looked good last night when he came on for Guarin and he played as a CM. Do I think he’s a new starter for us and that Mazzarri should rely on him? No. But I think that there is a role on the team for him IF HE IS GOING TO BE USED as either mid game sub or early Coppa Italia tie participant.

In Serie A a good player is one who can do several things well and Olsen can do at least 2 at the ripe old age of 19, he can run well and he can distribute well. He needs some work at pressuring the ball, but I also like his positioning very much. Am I gushing? Maybe it’s because a guy like him next to a guy like Duncan and Kovacic makes my mind buzz right before I start to worry that one might be sold off prematurely.

Position Thoughts

Goalkeeper – I thought that neither goal was Handanovic’s fault and that he was okay the rest of the time. Carrizo looked at least competent and much springier than Castellazzi ever did, even if Carrizo looks a little short to me.

Defense – I don’t blame any of the goals on the defense either. I thought Ranocchia and Campagnaro were very good. Hugo was very mobile for a 30something and Ranocchia was giving Chelsea attackers fits winning every header… plus I like that when Chelsea tried to run a slant into the near post he stayed with his man. He didn’t get his foot on the pass in, but his presence alone made the attacker have to adjust and the resulting bad kick resulted in a goal kick. It’s a small thing, but last season that play would have killed us and the defense would have stood around and looked stupidly at each other. Juan had a tough game I thought, but then again he should have a tough game against these guys. I don’t think he’s seen anything like them before.

Hugo’s red card was unfortunate but it wasn’t that big a deal, like I was hearing on Chelsea TV. Terry was already on the ground and Hugo came in late and stomped on his ankle. Not ten minutes before one of Chelsea’s players did the same thing from behind to Cambiasso’s foot and those same commentators were decrying the injustice of the booking. Terry did his part by screaming bloody murder right before he hopped up as soon as he saw the card trying to get a piece of the brawl that was forming over his previously lifeless corpse, so well done to his acting coach.

Midfield – As usual it’s a tale of two midfields here. Alvarez can’t play the game defensively and he holds onto the ball far too long against a team like Chelsea who are bigger, faster and better at pushing him off the ball than he is at dribbling. Guarin has the same disease but he’s a better physical specimen so he gets away with it at times. I wish he would look for the simple give and go tactic. He would be so devastatingly good at it. But he also had the most thrilling attempt at goal in the game as his volley beat the Chelsea keeper and just drifted centimeters wide of far post. As the ball went past you could tell the crowd just stopped moving for a second just to double check that it did in fact NOT go in.

Cambiasso was witheringly terrible. I mean he was abjectly horrible. I don’t recall a single positive thing he did… but that might be because I spent a lot of the first half with my head down looking at the keyboard, punishing the keys with hate as my fingers expressed just how poor I thought he was. I cannot believe that a team with the aspirations that Inter have continue to use a player who has shown nothing but poor form for 2 full seasons – and showed glimpses of poor form to be the season before those 2. I swear to god I will wear out the letters on this keyboard in writing article after article of how bad he is playing this season.

Tis a far better thing I do, complaining about his old can’t play carcass, than I have ever done before, a far better rest I go to after I release that agita from my system…

By the way, Kuzmanovic is trying to prove to someone that he can play in this league. I still don’t think he’s that good or fast or anything, but he is trying his heart out this preseason to prove something. I kinda respect the hell out him for that. Oh yeah, Olsen was very good. But you knew I was going to say that.

The wide guys were very meh. Nagatomo had some nice moments here and there. He proved that he was in shape fighting against 2 at times – remember that’s how Mourinho likes to discourage wide play. The crossing and the corners were very, very, very, very bad. The moving the ball up the field was okay up to the point that Chelsea doubled the wings and forced the ball back into the middle… which if everyone remembers is how Moutinho likes to involve his midfielders into the defensive portion of our talent contest.

Forwards – Something is missing here. I am beginning to think that Palacio plus the kiddies plus whenever Miltio decides to leave the pits isn’t going to be enough. There was far too much of Palacio having to come back to get the ball and not enough putting the ball through on the ground for a forward to take it and shoot. I will say this, when Icardi – who was rightly judged offside – took that shot over the Chelsea keeper… it was a pretty shot.

Belfodil looks good moving around up top, Ramadan – which I think ends next week or some time soon, right? – notwithstanding. Icardi looks like he needs a lot of service, but Belfodil looks like he has some ideas in his skull. He’s an interesting player, to say the least.

Okay, it’s time to put this game to bed and the team back to training. Valencia is next on August 4th in New York, NY.