The January transfer window usually leaves most fans in a state of anxiety as to which players are coming or going. This past week for most Interisti was no different and actually served to escalate the anxious nerves of the supporters. The proposed Fredy Guarin and Mirko Vucinic swap deal with rival club Juventus collapsed in its final hours with the Curva Nord protesting outside of Inter's headquarters. Nerazzurri supporters were vehemently opposed to the deal and questioned whether the deal would benefit Inter. The fans were against sending Guarin to their long-time rivals, Juventus and ultimately, President Thohir vetoed the move stating that,
"After speaking to my closest aides and exchanging views with Massimo Moratti and his son Angelomario this morning, I decided not to continue negotiations with Juventus. I felt it was not possible to reach an agreement on a deal in which the opinions of the two parties differed and which did not offer a clear financial or technical benefit to the club."
(Please click here to read the full statement of President Thohir's decision to veto the Guarin-Vucinic swap deal with Juventus).
The deal was not finalized and while one would think that this would be the end of the saga, the following day Juventus' General Manager Marotta held a press conference that some interpreted questioned Inter's integrity. In an understated but classy manner with no mention of recent events that Juventus has had to deal with such as Calciopoli or their stint in Serie B, Inter released President Thohir's statement, "Inter has always stood for integrity and honesty, and we have made it our mission to uphold and continue that tradition."
(Please click here to read the full statement of President Thohir's statement on the Inter tradition of integrity).
While the transfer drama was still preoccupying many Interisti`s minds going into this week's Inter fixture, a win against last placed Catania would be the perfect salve to soothe even the most anxious of Inter fans.
Official Lineups from the Inter site:
Inter XI (3-4-2-1): Handanovic, Campagnaro, Rolando, Juan Jesus (Botta 81), Jonathan, Kuzmanovic (Kovacic 46), Cambiasso (Taider 61), Nagatomo, Alvarez, Palacio, Milito.
Unused substitutes: Castellazzi, Carrizo, Zanetti, Andreolli, Icardi, Ranocchia, Samuel.
Coach: Walter Mazzarri
Catania XI (3-5-2): Frison, Peruzzi (Almiron 74), Rolin, Legrottaglie, Bergessio, Lodi, Leto (Castro 70), Izco, Bellusci (Gyomber 67), Rinaudo, Biraghi.
Unused substitutes: Andujar, Ficara, Plasil, Lopez, Guarente, Boateng, Keko, Capuano.
Coach: Rolando Maran.
Officials: De Marco, Posado, Marrazzo, Russo, Fabbri, Cariolato
The Inter starting formation of 3-4-2-1 included Handanovic in goal; a three man backline from right to left of Campagnaro, Rolando, and Juan Jesus; a four man midfield of Jonathan, Kuzmanovic, Cambiasso, and Nagatomo; and an attack of Alvarez and Palacio in support of lone striker Milito up top.
Inter came out of the gates in an attacking fashion eager to put behind them the transfer drama from the previous week. The first few minutes of the match was dominated by the Nerazzurri and the Argentine duo up top of Milito and Palacio but it was not until the 26th minute that the Inter strikers forced a save from Catania keeper, Frison.
Another chance for goal for the men in black and blue came in the 36th minute but unfortunately Milito could not convert a beautiful Palacio ball in.
Whilst Inter had a multitude of opportunities and dealt with the infrequent Catania counter attack, the first half drew to a close with neither side getting on the board. The score line was 0-0 at halftime.
As the game wore on, thoughts of the prior week's transfer drama began to fade and President Thohir was shown several times throughout the broadcast with Honorary President Moratti seated to his left. Their presence at the match was a symbolic gesture that seemed to provide some reassurance therefore placating some supporters. President Thohir stated that he was, "...here to support the team..." as well as to discuss January transfers. (Please click here to read his full statement from the Inter site).
Below is a tweet from the @inter account:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>President <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Thohir&src=hash">#Thohir</a> in the dressing room with captain Zanetti before <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23InterCatania&src=hash">#InterCatania</a>! <a href="http://t.co/Ko5TtgP8Jz">http://t.co/Ko5TtgP8Jz</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/search?q=%23FCIM&src=hash">#FCIM</a> <a href="http://t.co/AxufyScsqy">pic.twitter.com/AxufyScsqy</a></p>— inter.it (@inter) <a href="https://twitter.com/inter/statuses/427425501158707200">January 26, 2014</a></blockquote>
<script async src="//platform.twitter.com/widgets.js" charset="utf-8"></script>
Mazzarri used a halftime substitution that saw Kuzmanovic exit the game and Kovacic enter to help Alvarez create more opportunities from midfield.
The second half began and Inter picked up where they left off with an excellent opportunity in the 51st minute but unfortunately Palacio's attempt was rejected by the cross bar. The final touch for goal was elusive to the Nerazzurri men once again.
While Inter dominated possession, Catania had a few opportunities on the counter. In the 55th minute Interisti's breaths were caught in their throats as the visitors hit it towards the Inter goal but fortunately Rinaudo's shot went high.
Another opportunity in the 60th minute came for the Nerazzurri as Milito took it down the left side and Alvarez found Palacio but unfortunately there was still no goal scored as it resulted in a corner kick.
Taider came on for an injured Cambiasso in the 61st minute.
Inter continued to push forward in attack but none of the chances were converted for goal.
In the 75th minute there was great build up from the defense throughout the midfield as Kovacic tried to find Palacio but Catania defender, Legrottaglie fouled him outside the penalty box. The former Juventus defender received a yellow for his intentional foul which thwarted the Inter attack.
Mazzarri made his final substitution with Botta entering the game in the 81st minute employing a more attacking formation while Juan Jesus exited.
Unfortunately, while Inter had two last offensive opportunities by way of headers by Rolando in the 84th and Palacio in the 87th minutes respectively, a goal was not meant to be and the final whistle ended the match with the score of 0-0. Inter drew at home with Catania for one point.
Despite the result, there may be cause for hope. The return of Milito to the starting lineup has provided more options up top, allowing Palacio to open up with more looks at goal for the Argentine duo. While Inter could not capitalize on the three shots on target and 59% possession the upside is that there seemed to be countless opportunities.
Could the final touch that is missing be attributed to the re-integration of Milito into the mix? Is there an adjustment period where his teammates need to become more familiar again with his movement on the pitch? Will Kovacic see more playing time now that Guarin is almost certain to be on his way out? What will he be the key that brings Inter back to winning ways?
A lot of questions and concerns will need to be addressed in the final days of the transfer market and with the Derby d'Italia next week as Inter face Juventus away.
Inter 0-0 Catania
Goal scorers: N/A