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Catania 0 – Inter 3; Good, Bad and Ugly

Maurizio Lagana

Sunday’s game exorcised some ghosts for this team. Catania was exactly the type of team that caused Inter trouble last season – strong midfield, good enough defense and a tricky forward.


Not all was pretty in the game. The first 10 minutes or so were… interesting as things started out with Catania looking for the quick start. The team was on it’s back foot early and there was maybe the best Catania chance of the game as Handanovic was called on to make a save between his legs. The near-hit woke the team up and the next 20 minutes was all Inter with the Palacio goal as a highlight.

Tachtsidis stopped the Inter rally and started a Catania one at about the 30 minute mark. Up to the Spolli tackle – which deserves to be in the UGLY section, as does the ref for only giving a yellow – Catania were making a game but only able to shoot from distance in conclusion.

By and large Inter can be proud of this game for lots and lots of reasons, but the game was very much in doubt up to halftime. Inter looked like they knew the steps but that it wasn’t instinctual yet. They didn’t look entirely confident… like they were waiting for the other shoe to drop. Mazzarri looked like he was going to have a blood vessel in his brain explode and wanted to express his very violent feelings about that to the team as they departed for the dressing room at halftime. At the time I though that the team looked like they were out of gas after going all out in the first half.


I am going to single out two players that I really like for this section – Guarin and Kovacic. I really like these two guys and I think that they could be really great in this or any system with the right coach. But these two players are perhaps also the most individualistic on the team. Last season they were basically given carte blanche to do whatever they wanted as long as some goals were scored and some points taken.

I think it’s also safe to say that last sentence was true for those guys for most of their careers thus far. This season it’s going to be a completely different story and they are going to have to learn to adjust. If they can learn to sacrifice a bit for the team I think that they can do absolutely amazing things for this team this season.

But Sunday, these two guys weren’t great. Kovacic hasn’t been fit and he didn’t really look like he knew what he was doing yet – in short he’s got an excuse. Guarin was okay… but that isn’t really good enough for him. I expect more because I think he’s got all the tools. Last season he probably saved Inter’s bacon a half dozen times all by his onesy not to mention all the assists and disruptions he caused to the other team’s defense. If Guarin smartens up he’ll be able to do that for a full season this year.


When I wrote the preview I said that I would be looking to see if Mazzarri was going to enforce the shape of Inter’s team. He did in spades. The first half was decent, but it wasn’t disastrous as it might have been a year ago. Midfield helped out in defense. Interior midfield helped exterior midfield. Defense helped out the attack with runs up the gut. One winger crossed to another winger for glory instead of keeping the ball to himself and trying to score. Everyone sacrificed for everyone else. The team was so compact that it was causing Catania fits trying to maneuver through Inter players.

On the other side of the ball, the wide play Mazzarri has been adamant about all summer stretched the Catania defense laterally so that gaps appeared allowing two relatively short guys – Palacio and Nagatomo – room inside the Catania penalty area that should have been locked up tight.

The second thing I was looking for in this game was Inter becoming brave enough to attack without the spectre of a counter attack. In the first half I would say that Inter was very tentative about going forward… doing anything. But the second half was a completely different story. Inter were very brave and confident in all aspects. It seems like the halftime dressing down was good for the soul. For the second week in a row Mazzarri knew exactly what to say to the troops to get maximum results. No doubt the situation will change for the next game, in every respect a tougher challenge. But that doesn’t bother me. Being solid and successful with the mid-table will be such a huge improvement that I won’t quibble too much when it comes to the Juve’s of this world… yet.

Special mention has to go to Jonathan and Nagatomo, two gentlemen who got nothing but grief this summer as everyone, myself included in respects to Jonathan, were so wiling to ship these guys off and replace them. Anyhoo, they have done a great job these 2 games and they deserve applause.